The Lewis-Clark Valley Healthcare Foundation announces it is in the process of finalizing a grant to Innovia Foundation of Spokane to launch a regional Health and Wellness Needs Assessment to take place over the next year.

The assessment would include Wallowa County.

The grant represents the first announced funding by the foundation. The study would seek to determine the systemic health and wellness needs of the nine county area in Washington, Idaho and Oregon. The area has a combined population of approximately 190,000 people.

“Determining the health and wellness needs of the tri-state area will help our foundation establish its philanthropic goals over the next several years,” said Mark M. Havens, chairman of the Board of Community Advisors for the foundation.

The foundation was established in 2017 by Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden during the sale and conversion of St. Joseph Regional Medical Center in Lewiston into a for-profit hospital. It is administered as a philanthropic trust.

Wallowa is the only county in Oregon that is part of the foundation.

During 2016-17 when the sale of St. Joseph Regional Medical Center in Lewiston from Ascension Health, a nonprofit, to RCCH Health Care Partners, a for-profit enterprise, the hospital provided the Idaho Attorney General’s office with a list of hospitals in its service area.

“It included five north central Idaho counties, three counties in southeast Washington and Wallowa County,” Havens said. “Thus, when the Idaho Attorney General set up the subsequent successor foundation (nonprofit) to receive a portion of the sales price, he made the foundation’s service and benefit area to be exactly the same as the list the hospital provided to him.”

The foundation received $25 million out of a total of $109 million from the sale.

That makes the organization the only three-state “hospital conversion foundation” in the nation.

The Innovia Foundation, headquartered in Spokane, was known as the Inland Northwest Community Foundation up until June when a name change and rebranding effort was initiated by its regional board.

“The Innovia Foundation has more than 40 years of history serving the needs of people of the 10 northern Idaho counties and the 10 counties of eastern Washington,” said Innovia executive director Shelly O’Quinn, a former Spokane County commissioner. “Since one of Innovia’s target sectors is health, and the regions of the two foundations substantially overlap, it just makes sense to embark on this research project together.”

Havens and O’Quinn invite input from other interested parties on this project. These would include hospitals, health agencies, medical professionals, governmental officials and nonprofits.

“A study of this size and scale has never before been performed in this region,” Havens said. “A coordinated approach allows stakeholders to discover unique issues in certain counties and evaluate needs that might be consistent across the region.”

This strategy is also intended to provide reliable information to community groups to help attract additional public and private funds.

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