Project Access Northwest Partnership Removes Barriers for Uninsured

Jean McKinnon has been active all her life. She played tennis and walked everywhere. However, severe hip pain over the last five years began to impact her work as a waitress. Because she didn’t have health insurance, she kept working and ignored the pain as best she could. That all changed when Jean’s primary care physician referred her to Project Access Northwest (PANW), which referred her to Virginia Mason.

Jean McKinnon and Jonathan Clabeaux, MD

Thanks to the Project Access Northwest partnership with Virginia Mason, Jean McKinnon returned to work after successful hip surgery and shares a laugh with her     orthopedic surgeon, Jonathan Clabeaux, MD.

“Jean had very advanced, severe arthritis of the hip. When arthritis is that advanced, there is nothing short of a hip replacement that will treat it,” says Jonathan Clabeaux, MD, Virginia Mason orthopedic surgeon.

Through a partnership with PANW, low income, uninsured patients who receive primary care in the community clinic system can now be referred to Virginia Mason for specialty care services.

PANW screens and arranges testing, laboratory and imaging services before the patient arrives at Virginia Mason — a model of care that removes the typical barriers preventing patients from keeping their appointments. In fact, more than 95 percent of PANW patients keep their appointments, compared to fewer than 70 percent in typical uninsured populations.

“Our partnership with Virginia Mason helps ensure that vulnerable, low-income patients without health insurance get the specialty care services they need,” says Sallie Nellie, executive director, Project Access Northwest. “These patients often fall through the cracks in our health care system, and Virginia Mason’s ongoing leadership and commitment is very important to us. The patients we refer are delighted with the care they receive.”

Four weeks after surgery, Jean was back to work.

“I felt like I was 12 years old,” says Jean. “Surgery gave me my life back — not being in pain is amazing. I’m a naturally happy person, but now I’m even happier.”

Virginia Mason helps support PANW’s operating costs and covers the cost of services PANW patients receive. Virginia Mason treats patients referred by PANW from community clinics in King and Snohomish counties.


We are proud to share stories from the 2013 Virginia Mason Annual Report. Read about our patients, the treatment they received at Virginia Mason and how it has improved their lives.

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