Rasmuson Foundation Expands Virginia Mason Specialty Care in Alaska

The Rasmuson family has called Alaska home for 120 years. Their fondness for the state, its beauty, and its power inspired them to establish a family foundation dedicated to supporting community building, sustainable resource development and a deep love of the land. For 67 years, the Rasmuson Foundation has been giving to promote a better life for all Alaskans.

And today, the foundation’s leaders, many of whom are members of the Rasmuson family, are more focused than ever on giving with intent.

This year, the Rasmuson Foundation has chosen to fund the expansion of a virtual specialty care program between Virginia Mason Medical Center and the Bartlett Regional Hospital in Juneau.

“Increasing access to health care is a priority for the Foundation,” says Alexandra McKay, vice president of programs at the Rasmuson Foundation. “We want to support the efforts of our health care providers to meet the needs of patients in Alaska.”

Over the past few years, Virginia Mason Medical Center experts have collaborated with Bartlett’s cardiology, oncology and vascular teams to provide video clinic visits, treatment planning, and pre-and post-operative care.

“Collaborations like these strengthen our health care system and minimize the significant burden on patients, who would otherwise need to wait for specialty care or pay to travel to Seattle,” Alex says.

Virtual visits allow Virginia Mason Medical Center specialists and doctors in Alaska to work together to create individual care plans. Patients say they feel connected with specialists even from afar and are happy to receive faster care closer to home.

“For the people of Juneau, being able to see a specialist at their home hospital, where they’re most comfortable, is life-changing,” Alex says. “For too long, people have had to wait for resources like this to be available. It will be wonderful to see the outcomes from this expansion.”

The project will first increase the number of Virginia Mason Medical Center providers offering virtual care to Bartlett patients from cardiology, oncology and vascular medicine. Later, the hospitals will integrate several additional specialties, including rheumatology, pulmonology and gastroenterology.

The Rasmuson Foundation’s gift will fund new tools and technology like mobile audio-video systems to travel to clinic rooms. The mobile-video systems are compatible with stethoscopes, otoscopes and ultrasound systems, allowing doctors in Seattle to access tests and imaging easily. It will also support training for doctors at both hospitals.

“Everyone should receive the medical care they need when they need it,” Alex says. “This is a great example of two health care systems working together to provide what is best for their patients.”

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