Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington

From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Deacon Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302

SHMC honors Project Access founder with Sister Peter Claver Award

the Inland Register

(From the Oct. 25, 2007 edition of the Inland Register)

On Oct. 9, Sacred Heart Medical Center and Children’s Hospital presented the 2007 Sister Peter Claver Award to Dr. Sam Selinger, a retired cardiac surgeon who has shown unwavering commitment to Spokane’s working poor by creating “Project Access.”

The award is given annually, to recognize community members who exemplify the spirit and commitment of Providence Sister Peter Claver, Sacred Heart’s administrator for more than 30 years.

“Project Access offers medical treatment to people who would otherwise go without, and it’s exactly the type of mission Sister Peter Claver herself would have been quick to support,” said Skip Davis, CEO of Providence Health Care, when presenting the Award.

Dr. Selinger is personally responsible for enlisting the commitments of hundreds of care providers to participate in this vital program.

“Sister Peter Claver was a wonderful person and it’s really something to receive an award in her name and to be in the company of such fine people who received it in the past,” said Dr. Selinger. “The congratulations really go to all of the participants of Project Access for making it work.”

Those participants include 850 physicians, two hospital systems, labs and treatment facilities who agree to provide care when patients meet the criteria. Grants from Sacred Heart Medical Center and Group Health Cooperative pay for the organization’s first full-time employee, and Dr. Selinger has also brought eight cities and Spokane County on board to pay for prescriptions for Project Access patients.

The process took years of concentrated work, travel to meet with state legislators and of course, visits with the colleagues with whom he’d worked for more than two decades. It was a massive mission to undertake, but he approached it with vigor and determination, and he’s quick to pass on the accolades to others.

Project Access began in Ashville, South Carolina, and is expanding throughout the nation. The Spokane program was the first in Washington State and has served as model for three other Northwest communities.

“As a surgeon, I helped one person at a time,” said Dr. Sellinger. “Now, I am able to do so much more. And that is what makes my work so truly rewarding.

“Project Access is about simply taking care of your neighbor — but enlisting others to help you do that.”

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