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Local Patients Inspire Guild Support

Team Noah Feature Story lgSeattle Children's patients motivate guilds throughout Washington. At the Covey Run, Noah's family shared their gratitude for uncompensated care.

The drive from Wenatchee to Seattle Children’s takes Noah Johnson’s family two and a half hours — and they’ve been making the trip since before Noah was born.

“Our lives were changed forever at my 21-week ultrasound,” recalls Noah’s mother, Andie Johnson. That’s when Noah was diagnosed with a lymphatic malformation (large cysts on his cheek and neck) and his parents began meeting with Dr. Jonathan Perkins and others from Children’s ear, nose and throat team to plan for his care.

Noah’s first year was a blur of occupational therapy, hospitalizations and long drives to Children’s, and at the end of it his family was overwhelmed with medical bills.

A family asks for help

Port Ludlow Feature Story thPort Ludlow Guild members fundraise for uncompensated care in Jefferson County. Uncompensated care helps families throughout a four-state region.  

“We had good insurance and a middle-class income, but we still couldn’t pay our entire portion of Noah’s care,” says Johnson. She and her husband, Kyle, were surprised — and relieved — to learn that uncompensated care is designed with families like theirs in mind. “We practically fell to our knees in gratitude. At Children’s, there’s never any hesitation to give Noah the care he needs because we can’t afford it.”

The span of uncompensated care

Last year, Children’s had approximately 315,000 patient visits. In the four-state region of Washington, Alaska, Montana and Idaho, Children’s provided uncompensated care in more than 122,000 patient procedures. Families can take their children to the Seattle campus or visit one of Children’s eight regional clinics and 18 outreach clinics. No matter where a patient is seen, Children’s provides medically necessary healthcare to children in our region regardless of a family’s ability to pay.

100 years of guild support

Access to healthcare regardless of a family’s ability to pay has inspired support from guilds for more than 100 years.

“The Port Ludlow Guild’s mission is to help meet the cost of uncompensated care provided to children in Jefferson County,” says guild president Dion Watson. “Each summer before our walkathon, I publish how many Jefferson County kids were treated at Children’s. It makes a big difference when donors know that Children’s helps local families.”

JoAnn Hoff became a guild member when her son was a Children’s patient in 1988. Now the president of the Dr. L.G. Spaulding Guild and the county representative for all Tri-Cities guilds, she is still motivated by the needs of kids in her area. “Tri-Cities children deserve the same high-quality care as any child in Washington. I find it inspiring to know that our efforts have helped so many families in their time of need.”

“Our regional presence is growing, and our guilds help make it possible for us to be able to assure that all children in our region will be covered by uncompensated care,” says Dr. Sandy Melzer, who develops Children’s relationships with regional medical facilities. “We still don’t know exactly how healthcare reform will affect Children’s. But our ability to fund uncompensated care will continue to be crucial to providing care for children in our region.”

Of the $10.5 million raised by guilds last year, $6.9 million supported uncompensated care. The remainder supported research and clinical programs.

“Volunteerism is alive and well here,” says Watson. “We’re proud to fundraise for uncompensated care, because we know the medical needs of children in our region can be great.”

The Johnson family is also looking to give back. “We want to support Children’s,” says Johnson. “Now that we’re back on our feet, it’s our turn to help families just like ours.”

Regional totals of patient procedures supported by uncompensated care in fiscal year 2010

County in Washington Total Number of Procedures
King 62,843
Snohomish 23,348 
Yakima 6,312
Pierce 4,828
Thurston 3,195
Skagit 3,071
Whatcom  2,525
Benton and Franklin 2,220  
Adams, Grant and Chelan 1,850
Kitsap 1,545
Island 1,060
Okanogan 404
Other 6,441
State Total Number of Procedures
Washington 119,642
Alaska 1,549 
Montana 717
Idaho 299

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