Empire Health Foundation Grant Expands Health Care and Social Services in Whitman County

Feb 20, 2015

A $77,340 grant awarded by Empire Health Foundation to Pullman Regional Hospital Foundation will fund the expansion of the Social Work Extender Program in Whitman County. With support from the grant, Pullman Regional Hospital will implement preventative care home visits to aging or disabled adults living independently with chronic conditions.

“This regionally-based healthcare model addresses the barriers of a growing aging population, limited public transportation, and can extend the length of time people can live a healthy and independent life,” said Katie Evermann Druffel, Pullman Regional Hospital Social Work Director.

“Empire Health Foundation is proud to be part of this community-based collaboration aimed at supporting the independence of rural seniors,” said Brian Myers, Senior Program Associate for Empire Health Foundation. “The social work extenders will be assisting seniors to gain access to needed supports to remain in their homes and communities and live with purpose and value throughout their later years,” he said.

Through a partnership with Washington State University (WSU), grant funding will be used to support the work of two Human Development students in the summer, spring, and fall semesters through 2016. As Social Work Extenders, the students will primarily work in Whitman County independent living and low income housing facilities providing coaching for self-care of chronic conditions and setting health goals and action plans, thus reducing the use of urgent care, emergency department care and acute care services.

The initial partnership with Pullman Regional Hospital’s Social Work department and WSU started in the fall of 2013. “The need for students to gain meaningful local experience and our need to broaden our reach in serving this community is a natural fit,” said Evermann Druffel.

“The hospital made this investment because we recognized a need,” said Scott Adams, Pullman Regional Hospital CEO. “We’re grateful for this partnership with Empire Health Foundation so we can grow this program beyond the walls of the hospital through home visits.”

Over the next 18 months, Evermann Druffel said she and her team of Social Work Extenders plan to begin working with senior residents of Pioneer Square and Kenwood Square and other low income subsidized housing units in Whitman County and then expand to low income housing complexes in Tekoa, Colfax, and Palouse.

Currently, Rebecca Hatley, a recent Human Development graduate and the program’s first grant-funded, part-time staff member, is preparing the program for implementation and working with independent living facilities to identify potential clients and begin building relationships with medical professionals and support staff at the hospital and primary care offices.


Contact: Alison Weigley, Assistant Director of Development, External Relations and Marketing
Pullman Regional Hospital Foundation

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