News Releases

Spokane: Senator Murray Includes More Than $1.3 Million for Spokane Area Health Care and Education Projects

Jun 26 2008

Bill includes funding to help train more nurses, health care workers to combat Spokane area healthcare workforce shortage

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) announced that she has included $1.385 million for health care and education projects in an important Senate spending bill. The funding will go to the Community Colleges of Spokane, the Washington State University Nursing School and the Spokane County Medical Society Foundation. Murray included the funding in the Senate Labor, Health, Human Services and Education (LHHS) Appropriations bill. The LHHS Appropriations bill was approved by the full Appropriations Committee today and will move on to the full Senate for consideration. Murray is a senior member of the Appropriations Committee.

Nursing School, Washington State University - $1 million

This funding will be used to complete research laboratories and purchase research, instruction, and communication equipment at the WSU Spokane Riverpoint Campus. Last year, Senator Murray was able to secure $1,288,097 for this project. According to a recent article in the Spokesman Review, there are more than 110 job openings for registered nurses in the Spokane area. This funding will help to properly train students to help fill those positions and others currently vacant throughout Washington state.

"This funding will provide tools to train the nurses that are so badly needed in Spokane and throughout our state," said Senator Murray. "It will allow nurses to learn in a hands-on manner and will better prepare them for the quick decisions they'll have to make on the job. As more nurses retire and more baby boomers begin to access care, this investment is more important than ever."

"I am so pleased to hear of this investment in nursing and our healthcare workforce," said Dean Patricia Butterfield.  "Students face extremely complex situations in hospitals and community clinics.  In the past the nursing profession relied primarily on lectures to help students learn.  Now we know that students learn more effectively when they participate in clinical simulation exercises. We like to say that simulation exercises help students to think on their feet, instead of their seat."

Community Colleges of Spokane - $285,000

Washington State University's  Nursing facility (Magnuson Building) will transfer to Community Colleges of Spokane (CCS) in winter 2009, allowing CCS to expand capacity to train more Physical Therapist Assistants and Occupational Therapist Assistants. However, the Magnuson Building will need to first be remodeled. This funding will assist in the remodeling process. There are no Occupational Therapist Assistant training programs currently in Eastern Washington.  Local employers have been surveyed and indicate an immediate and future need for workers with these skills.  These are high wage/high demand occupations with average wages exceeding $20/hour.

"There is a real need in the Spokane area for physical and occupational therapists and this funding will help to train workers locally," said Senator Murray. "This will mean more family wage jobs in Spokane and more health care access for area residents."

“The Magnuson Building represents a unique partnership of state, federal, and local organizations coming together to support the region’s economy, expanding capacity to train workers in allied health which is so important to our region,” Community College of Spokane Chancellor Gary Livingston.

Spokane County Medical Society Foundation - $100,000

Project Access is a physician-led community partnership of coordinated charity care that creates access to physicians and hospitals, and provides prescription assistance.  The volunteer network includes 850 physicians, Spokane hospitals, and allied healthcare providers. Project Access is the only network providing the full range of healthcare to low income individuals in Spokane County.

"This funding will support Project Access - a program that serves the health care needs of Spokane's most vulnerable residents," said Senator Murray. "I commend the many physician volunteers who make this program possible and I am proud to support their selfless efforts to provide care to those who can't afford it."

"As a physician, I refer patients to Project Access, and also donate my services to Project Access patients," said Spokane area Dr. Brian Seppi. "As a member of our community, I am proud of my fellow physicians and other healthcare providers for stepping forward to help make Spokane a better place to live."