David B. Thorud Leadership Award
Lisa Chew

Lisa Chew

Associate Professor, Medicine, School of Medicine;
Associate Medical Director in Ambulatory Care, Harborview Medical Center

Nominated by Frances Marshall, Associate Administrator, Ambulatory and Allied Care Services

Awarded 2021

We are pleased to nominate Lisa Chew, MD, for the David B. Thorud Leadership Award. Dr. Chew is an outstanding Associate Medical Director for Ambulatory Care at Harborview Medical Center. In this position, she sets ambulatory policy and leads clinic medical directors to ensure that care is delivered according to quality and equity standards, and in advancement of Harborview’s mission. Her influence and innovation extend well beyond Harborview and UW Medicine.

Dr. Chew aligns all her leadership activities with the mission of Harborview Medical Center, from her clinical work to her administrative management and population advocacy. Each week, Dr. Chew sees “the most vulnerable residents” (Harborview Mission Statement) in the Adult Medicine Clinic where nearly a third of all patients are covered by Medicaid.

Dr. Chew further develops and implements programs to address the needs of at-risk populations including the launch of primary care services for the patients on methadone programs at the Evergreen Treatment Services. These patients face significant barriers and are not likely to come up the hill to seek primary care but will access this essential care if it is delivered where their medication is administered.

Dr. Chew is a known leader and advocate in the area of equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI). She co-chairs our EDI Council and was one of the first to highlight discrepancies in care which lead to health equity differences. For example, she analyzed the data which showed that Hispanic rated their care lower in the area of being informed of their test results. She challenged providers to bridge the health equity gap by reaching out with interpretation support to their Spanish speaking patients to give them test results.

Dr. Chew had already established herself as a visionary leader in many strategic areas at Harborview and across UWM Medicine when the COVID-19 crises hit. She was instrumental in the launch of testing for Harborview patients. But her sense of community and collaboration extend far beyond the walls of Harborview with regard to the COVID pandemic. She was one of the key leaders instrumental in partnering with King County Public Health, community clinics, and others to take a mobile medical van to community organizations to test in those areas hardest high by the illness. She understood that testing plays a major role in controlling the spread of COVID-19. She partnered with local city governments, schools, and churches to site COVID-19 test facilities, often visible at the sites to further garner support. She took swift action to meet and exceed the extreme need for fighting the pandemic with access to quality testing at no cost to the patient. Harborview has tested over 25,000 patients since March due in large part to Dr. Chew’s advocacy and vision.

Dr. Chew was one of the local voices who raised the alarm bell that communities of color were being hit the hardest by COVID-19. Her response was to expand testing in the target areas by working with community groups to place testing sites in areas experiencing the highest rates of positivity. Dr. Chew presented data from April 2020 that showed that two thirds of the patients hospitalized with COVID-19 were limited English proficient (LEP). LEP populations had a positivity rate of 20.8% versus a positivity rate in English speaking populations of 7.7%. Dr. Chew identified the barriers and facilitators in developing test site plans to ensure that the most vulnerable populations had access to COVID-19 testing. The test sites are still going strong over 6 months later. In the words of one community partner about the testing, the City of Auburn, “In times when cutbacks and increased efficiency are part of our daily lives, and community outreach is frequently a first reduction, we would like to commend you and thank you for continuing this remarkable and generous service to your outlying communities” (Nancy Backus, Mayor, and Pat Bailey, Community Health, City of Auburn).

Dr. Chew’s contribution to Harborview’s response to the COVID-19 crisis continued with the launch of the Respiratory Plus Clinic at Harborview. This clinic sees patients who have COVID-19 symptoms or a positive test and who need to be seen in a safe environment. Again, collaborating with her dyad partner and the Infection Prevention and Control Department, Dr. Chew developed workflows and secured provider staffing to open this vital resource in the care of the high-risk populations. This clinic also partners with researchers seeking safe and effective COVID-19 care by providing a space for research subjects to be seen.

From visionary leader to practicing physician, Dr. Chew is driven by her equity lens. She aligns all her leadership activities with the care of the most vulnerable populations. She has testified to the Washington State Senate and presented online in national forums on how to address health disparities during COVID-19. The strength of her leadership comes from her ability to make a compelling argument that close examination of data and community partnership development build strong and effective health care programs. The outcome of her effort is seen in the success of the community-based programs she has fostered.

Thank you for your consideration of Dr. Chew’s nomination.

Frances Marshall, MHA Kathy Mertens, RN, MPH, DNP
Associate Administrator Assistant Administrator, Associate Chief Nursing Officer
Ambulatory and Allied Care Services Ambulatory and Allied Care Services

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