American Heart Association fundraising luncheon

Virgina Mason Franciscan
Andrea Engfer

The Westin was wrapped in red as Go Red for Women supporters from across the Puget Sound joined the American Heart Association for the annual fundraising luncheon. Over 150 guests attended the event which raised over $290,000 that day, bringing the campaign total to $1.1 million. The 2022 event chair was Claire Verity, President of Regence BlueShield.

Orting resident Andrea Engfer, a 2022 Go Red for Women Real Woman, shared her inspiring stroke recovery journey. Engfer suffered a stroke just five days after giving birth to her daughter, Emma. The event also shined a spotlight on the Association’s ongoing work to address nutrition security including its tie to mental well-being.

The funds raised from the annual luncheon support the American Heart Association and the Go Red for Women movement which is dedicated to furthering our understanding of heart disease and stroke in women.

Evergreen Eye: Protect Your Eyes this Summer

Summer is here. It brings long days filled with sunshine, but that sunlight is packed with UV rays. Unfortunately, overexposure to UV rays can cause unsightly skin issues like wrinkles, leathery skin, and liver spots. But something more severe that many of us don’t think about from sun exposure are eye problems.

Ultraviolet rays absorbed during chronic exposure to the sun can cause the cornea of the eye to become inflamed or burned leading to cataracts and other eye issues.

According to Dr. J. Timothy Heffernan, an oculoplastic surgeon at Evergreen Eye Center, “When it comes to summer, most of us know what we should do to take care of our skin. Those same actions protect the most delicate skin on our body, the eyelids.”

Heffernan encourages everyone to implement three protective actions of wearing sunscreen, sunglasses that are highly rated for sun protection, and hats that shade the eyes. Sunscreens with mineral-based protection work the best and luckily many facial cream products that we use on a regular basis contain screens that are more than 99% effective at blocking UV rays.

With the addition of Heffernan last year, Evergreen Eye Center now offers complete care to treat damage caused by the sun. Wrinkles, bags, and fine lines around the eyes are handled using cosmetic treatments like Botox and fillers, while lasers that ablate the skin to its underlying layer are used for a deeper reaction. Heffernan treats more serious issues like cancer in and around the eye through surgery.

Working out of multiple offices, Heffernan travels so he is closer to where patients live, making it easier on them to seek out his help. “I work on everything about the eye, except the actual eyeball — the socket, the lid, tear ducts and the area around the eye.”

Dr. Heffernan is a member of the American Society of Ophthalmic Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, board-certified ophthalmologists who have completed advanced training in eyelid, orbit, tear duct systems and related structures.

Evergreen Eye Center has locations in Tacoma, Auburn, Federal Way, Burien, and Seattle.

For Additional Information
Evergreen Eye Center


Virginia Mason Franciscan Health Collaborates with Contessa to Care into Patients’ Homes

St. Joseph Medical Center – Tacoma, Washington

Virginia Mason Franciscan Health in Tacoma has announced a new collaboration with Contessa, an Amedisys company (NASDAQ: AMED), to operate Home Recovery Care. Home Recovery Care brings all the essential elements of hospital care into the comfort and convenience of patients’ homes, offering a safe and effective alternative to the traditional inpatient stay. The service will expand access to high-acuity care, increase crucial inpatient capacity and reduce the overall cost of care.

“Virginia Mason Franciscan Health is committed to finding innovative ways to expand access to care in the communities we serve while lowering the cost of care,” said Ketul J. Patel, CEO of Virginia Mason Franciscan Health. “Our collaboration with Contessa allows us to deliver quality care, traditionally provided in a hospital setting, to our patients in their homes — increasing patient satisfaction and improving outcomes, while creating more inpatient capacity for those with the most critical needs.”

Patients who choose Home Recovery Care are transported home and begin receiving hospital-level care that same day. They are sent home with remote patient monitoring devices and have in-home nursing visits and telehealth consults from Virginia Mason Franciscan Health physicians. The program is ideal for patients with a variety of acute conditions including pneumonia, cellulitis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, congestive heart failure, COVID-19 and urinary tract infections.

“Home Recovery Care empowers providers to deliver truly personalized, high-acuity care at home. We are thrilled to bring this care model to Virginia Mason Franciscan Health,” said Travis Messina, CEO of Contessa.

Contessa’s Home Recovery Care model has grown exponentially due to the COVID-19 pandemic and is proven to drive better patient outcomes and increase patient satisfaction. On average, the model historically reduces readmission rates by 44%, decreases the mean length of a hospital stay by 35% and has a patient satisfaction score of more than 90%. This collaboration is a key addition to Virginia Mason Franciscan Health’s efforts to manage capacity during the pandemic.

Home Recovery Care is slated to launch at Virginia Mason Franciscan Health’s St. Joseph Medical Center in Tacoma later this year and will be available to Medicare fee-for-service patients initially. There are plans to expand to other Virginia Mason Franciscan Health locations and include patients with other health plans in the future.

Evergreen Eye Center Offers the Latest MIGS Procedures

Medical treatments and procedures are continually evolving as technology and knowledge advances. The ability to correct glaucoma and cataracts in the same procedure is an example of the evolution in eyecare treatments. For more than a decade, MIGS (Minimally Invasive Glaucoma Surgeries) have expanded exciting options for treatment. Before MIGS, patients had to decide between medicine and laser or a big surgery to create drainage for glaucoma.

Glaucoma is an eye condition that damages the optic nerve and is the leading cause of blindness in people over 60 years old. Typically, a buildup of fluid creates abnormally high pressure in the eye, but the symptoms are silent. Without regular screening, it often goes undetected so when a patient notices a loss of sight, it may be too late and irreversible.

By contrast, cataracts are a clouding of the lens of the eye that develops slowly over time and is more apparent. For some patients, the newest MIGS procedures can correct cataracts and glaucoma issues through the same incision. “Many patients with cataracts are great candidates to also treat their glaucoma issues in the same procedure, adding very little extra time to the surgery but with the same recovery time, “ said Dr. Roger Anderson of Tacoma’s Evergreen Eye Center.

Following his retirement from the Army in 2020, where he reached the level of Colonel, Dr. Anderson was attracted to working with Evergreen Eye Center because of their commitment to patient care. According to Anderson, who specializes in cataract, trabeculectomy and MIGS, “Evergreen has a great combination of support and an investment in the latest and best technology allowing for the best outcomes.”

Evergreen Eye Center is the Puget Sound’s trusted leading-edge, patient-centered eye care for cataracts, LASIK, dry eye and MIGS. Look for locations in Tacoma, Auburn, Federal Way, Burien, and Seattle.

For Additional Information
Evergreen Eye Center


Virginia Mason Franciscan Health and Intuitive Health to Open Hybrid ER

Virginia Mason Franciscan Health and Intuitive Health to Open Hybrid ER and Urgent Care Centers in Pacific Northwest

 Virginia Mason Franciscan Health announced today it is partnering with Dallas-based Intuitive Health to bring multiple hybrid emergency room (ER) and urgent care centers to the Puget Sound region over the next four years. Construction on the first location, which will be the first dual ER and urgent care center in Washington state, will begin later this year.

“Our new hybrid ER and urgent care facilities will not only simplify the experience for our patients, ensuring they receive the right level of care, but will help to reduce the overall cost of care, including out-of-pocket expenses,” said Ketul J. Patel, CEO, Virginia Mason Franciscan Health. “Bringing high-quality emergent and urgent care closer to our patients will also help alleviate some of the strain on our hospitals as we continue to experience increasing emergency department visits.”

By offering ER and urgent care under one roof, patients will no longer have to decide what level of care they need prior to arriving at the facility. A patient with an urgent or emergent need can simply present to the facility and a board-certified emergency physician will examine and triage them to the appropriate level of care based on their need. Patients are only billed for the level of services they actually receive, ultimately saving the patient money, time and peace of mind.

“Our dual ER and urgent care model puts the patient at the center of the care experience. These new facilities will expand Virginia Mason Franciscan Health’s footprint in the community and increase patient access,” said Thom Herrmann, CEO of Intuitive Health. “We combine full-service emergency room expertise and the convenience of urgent care in a single, accessible, retail-sized facility with outstanding concierge-level customer service. By combining emergency and urgent care in the same location, we take away the need for patients to make complicated medical decisions. Just come to us and receive the right care, at the right price, close to home.”

Virginia Mason Franciscan Health’s hybrid ER/urgent care centers will be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, equipped with onsite lab equipment and a radiology suite with X-ray and multi-slice CT scanners.

Studies show that patients in need of care will seek it nearly half of the time at the ER because they are open 24/7, and fill in the gaps when medical appointments are hard to find elsewhere. This is especially true for vulnerable populations. Fully staffed with highly-trained and board-certified emergency physicians, the hybrid ER and urgent care centers will treat both emergent and non-emergent conditions.

 Learn more by visiting

Pediatrics Northwest: Sugar Isn’t Always Sweet!

We’ve all heard that healthy eating is important. But did you know that the eating habits your child develops now can have a lasting impact for years to come? Research shows that how your child eats and drinks in their early years can set the stage for a lifetime of healthy eating and living. With all the different terms and tactics used in food packaging, though, sometimes it can be hard to figure out which foods are actually healthy.

Added Sugar vs. Natural Sugar

As you look for healthy foods and recipes for your family, it’s important to consider added sugars. Natural sugars are found in many foods (e.g., fruits, dairy), but added sugars are supplemented to foods during the manufacturing process. Too much added sugar over a lifetime can increase a person’s risk for a number of ailments.

How Much Sugar is Too Much?

Most of us enjoy having a special treat from time to time, but at what point does added sugar start posing an increased risk for developing health problems? Here are the current recommendations:

  • Infants and toddlers under age 2 should get 0 grams of added sugar per day.
  • Toddlers and children over age 2 should get less than 25 grams of added sugar per day (equal to about 6 teaspoons).

Simple Ways to Cut Back

Here are a few ways to help limit added sugars in your child’s diet:

1. Eat fresh and whole foods

Sugar is often added to processed and prepackaged foods. Eating fresh fruits and vegetables, and other foods that are unprocessed or minimally processed will help cut out added sugars.

2. Eliminate juice and soda

Beverages like sports drinks, sweetened teas, fruit juices, or diet sodas are not advised. The best beverages for your child are water and unflavored milks. In fact, the American Heart Association recommends children should not get more than 1 cup per week of any sweetened beverage.

3. Compare food labels

Start looking at and comparing food labels. Much of the added sugar in our diets comes from sneaky places like ketchup, condiments, dried fruit, packaged foods, and sometimes even seemingly healthy foods like yogurt and peanut butter. Start comparing food labels so that the options in your home have low or no added sugars.

4. Limit sugary treats

Make treats an exception. We all enjoy sharing treats with our loved ones, but make these sometimes foods instead of everyday foods.

5. Keep at it!

In the beginning it might seem hard to make these changes to your diet. But once you discover some healthier options, you’ll quickly find that this becomes part of your new family routine.

Happy eating!

Pediatrics Northwest


Why Intentions over Resolutions

 I’m sure you know by now, most new years resolutions fail by the 3rd week of January so “Resolutions” as they traditionally have been talked about, don’t work. In fact, only 8 percent of people actually keep their New Year’s resolutions, according to one commonly cited statistic. Resolutions can often leave us feeling inadequate and unfulfilled.  My point is not to discourage you around making improvements in your life, I want to encourage you to really know why those improvements are important to you before making them.

Yoga philosophy is based on the idea that you have everything you need to live your best, happiest life already inside you. Our work is to peel away anything that is getting in the way. Author Danielle Laporte, in her book The Desire Map, speaks to this similar topic. Are we making our goals based on what we think we should want, or are we making our goals based on how we really want to feel. She asserts that if we set goals around how we really want to feel, those intentions will become reality and not feel like “work” because those intentions are innate to us.

What is an intention?

We set intentions before every yoga practice so that our intention will follow us off the mat and into our world. Here are some thoughts about setting an intention:

1. Spend time in quiet reflection. Reflect on topics like, What do you want to do and why? What types of activities make you feel truly satisfied in life and how often do you do them? 

2. Declare your intention. Put your intention out to the universe so it can be returned to you! When you do that, try not to come from a place of “lacking”. Let your intention come from your true nature. For example, if you goal is to have more wealth, then instead of saying, “I’m going to stop spending so much money” maybe your intention would be “I feel a sense of abundance and security”

3. Once you have set your intention and declared it, figure out the “what”. The “what” is actually the small goals that support your intention. What do you need to actually do to make your intention reality? 

4. This is a big one! Put the “what” on your calendar! We live in a busy fast paced life. There are a lot of distractions that can compete for our attention. The activities that will support your intention should be scheduled. Give yourself time on your calendar to check in with your progress and make any adjustments that feel right to you!

5. Research shows that people who have actionable, measurable goals are more likely to succeed than those who don’t. How do you want to measure your success? And does the measurement of that success make you feel good?6. Most importantly, Be Patient! We often let go of our focus on our intention because it doesn’t happen fast enough. You are worth the work and wait. Don’t give up. There are obstacles everywhere and sometimes its the difficulty and discomfort with the process that is our true teacher. A wonderful quote by author Randy Pausch in The Last Lecture says, “The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out; the brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something.” by Alicia Barrett

Puget Sound Ortho Welcomes Dr. Vercio

Passionate about “educating patients and putting their hands back together again,” Dr. Rob Vercio is honored to have the opportunity to provide care for the people in the community that he grew up in. 

Shortly after completing his fellowship at the Medical College of Wisconsin in August of 2021, Dr. Vercio moved back to the Pacific Northwest and began seeing patients at Puget Sound Orthopaedics. He brought his wife, his toddler and his baby along with him.

Dr. Vercio is an orthopedic surgeon who uses non-operative and operative techniques to treat patients who suffer from ailments within the hand and upper extremity. He provides solutions for any musculoskeletal related problem from the collar bone down to the fingertips.

At the clinic, Dr. Vercio’s first priority is to listen and learn from his patients. In order to understand the unique goals and needs of every patient, he believes that it is essential to ask them the right questions and to pay close attention to their answers. “It is crucial for me to listen to my patients so that I can fully understand their concerns and clearly explain a diagnosis,” states Dr. Vercio. He notes that making a genuine effort to learn who his patients are as individuals, what their goals are and what they do outside of the clinic helps him build personal relationships. “I want to have a strong connection with every person I care for,” he says.

Dr. Vercio is prepared for the variety of challenges that come along with treating the hand and upper extremity. He provides care for common conditions like carpal tunnel syndrome and is confident executing complex procedures like repairing a torn rotator cuff. He is committed to learning the latest surgical techniques so that his patients have a more comfortable surgical experience and recover as fast as possible after an operation.

When not performing surgery or caring for patients, Dr. Vercio is most likely having fun with his family. He also enjoys spending time on the water, photography, downhill skiing and exploring the outdoors.

Dr. Vercio is devoted to treating his patients like family and providing them with efficient, compassionate and expert care. If you would like to learn more about Dr. Vercio and Puget Sound Orthopaedics, visit or call us at (253) 582-7257.

The Olympia Farmers Market: Holiday Market

The change of season at The Olympia Farmers Market means beautiful fall and winter produce and wonderful handcrafted items from some of your favorite local artisans. Shop local first and grab a handmade centerpiece, holiday inspired table runner, hand blown glasses and wood serving tray to present the perfect farm-to-table meal. The Market will have plenty of baked goods, cheeses, jams, sauces, seafood, fresh and cured meats and more to create memorable holiday meals!
Holiday Market Hours at The Olympia Farmers Market runs every Saturday and Sunday, 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 pm, November through December 19th. You’ll find fresh produce, artisan foods, inspired art and jewelry, practical and whimsical gifts – something for everyone on your holiday list! The Market will be closed December 25 and 26 and will reopen Saturday, January 8, 2022, at 10:00 a.m. January, February, and March the Market will be open every Saturday from 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

ABOUT THE OLYMPIA FARMERS MARKET: In operation since 1975, The Olympia Farmers Market is home to over 100 vendors from the South Puget Sound area. Now open year-round, over 150 days a year, we see approximately 500,000 visitors a year. We have a dedicated staff and a volunteer Board of Directors who are committed to our mission “to promote and encourage the development of local, small-scale agriculture and ensure a dynamic market balance for small, local growers and others to make available their products to residents of this community.” We are proud to be an active component of the Olympia community for 45 years.

Centrally located on the waterfront of downtown Olympia, in close proximity to the Hands on Children’s Museum and WET Science Center, area residents and visitors can enjoy local farm fresh produce, artisan foods, wine, plant starts, cut flowers, fresh and cured meats, dairy, fresh baked goods, seafood, jams and preserves, confections, handcrafted gifts, local arts and more, with restaurants and plenty of covered seating, all set to live music.

Olympia Farmers Market

Oly Ortho Has A New Home for Spinal Care

Olympia Orthopaedic (Oly Ortho) Associates Spine Center recently made a big move. And now, the whole family fits under one roof. In the beginning of September of 2021, Oly Ortho moved into a new, specially designed building, to finally have their physicians, nurses, medical assistants and administrative staff working in the same location.

The new home for Oly Ortho, located on 9th Ave. of southwest Olympia, comes with many advantages. Benefits include room for functionality, opportunity for easier collaboration, better patient care and convenience, such as being within a short walking distance of other colleagues, their westside clinic and partners Rapid Orthopaedic Care Urgent Clinic and Olympia Surgical Center. Not to mention, the design of the new Spine Center comes with even the smallest of perks— newest partner Drip Espresso has their own coffee corner with Batdorf & Bronson coffee, fresh salads, sandwiches and baked goods in the lobby of the building for staff and patients to enjoy. 

For patients traveling far, the convenience of a single location is key. Instead of having to chop up treatment with multiple, tedious appointments, much can be taken care of in one stop. Concerning collaboration, one of the prime benefits for patients is the combined services between two Neurosurgeons, Orthopaedic spine surgeons, Interventional Pain Management Physician, Physiatrist (physical medicine & rehabilitation specialist) and more. This means services like assessments of people’s spinal issues like chronic back or neck pain, herniated discs, pinched nerves and spinal fractures, procedures like Kyphoplasty, physical and chiropractic therapy and follow-ups after surgical care will be addressed by top specialists. 

With this transition, the opportunities of spinal care that Oly Ortho can provide are just beginning. Jessica Forsman, VP of Business Development and overseer of the architecture and design of the new building, says they look forward to spring or summer of 2022 for a belated grand opening where, depending on the course of the pandemic, they can invite the public to tour and experience the new Olympia Orthopaedic Associates Spine Center. 

To learn more about the physicians and services of Oly Ortho, visit their website:

Natalie Benson