Thursday, October 2, 2014

Turner Uses Innovative Engineering to Cut Construction Time

Seattle-based Turner Construction is erecting its latest building in South Lake Union at a rate that is 50 percent faster than a typical project.

What's responsible for the major increase in productivity?  Turner is using two cranes instead of one to assemble the building's steel frame.

Chris Heger, site manager at the Block 45 project on the northeast corner of 9th Avenue N. and Harrison Street, met with members of the Seattle media this morning to explain the innovative two crane approach.

According to Heger, the project site is broken out into two zones defined by the radius of each crane; each crane's zone is further divided into subzones.  Daily work plans are designed for each crane, ensuring the two cranes do not interfere with one another's work.  Additional considerations are taken to ensure neither crane ever has to go "around the world" (the long way around its center point), further increasing efficiency.
The utilization of two cranes in conjunction with Lean Engineering principles has Block 45 going up at a rate of 1 floor every two days.  After beginning construction in January, the project is on schedule to be completed in August 2015.

We were able to join Heger and members of the Seattle media on site this morning for a tour to see the two cranes in action - check out some of the coverage from this morning's event below!

KOMO Radio

Puget Sound Business Journal  

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

IGD Fellow Talks Africa, Women and Ebola on New Day Northwest

The Initiative for Global Development (IGD) announced Monday it has named Nigerian businesswoman Adeshola Komolafe an African Emerging Leader Fellow.
Komolafe is Founder and Nigerian Country Director of Save our Future, an organization that works to empower youth by providing resources and programming aimed at cultivating global leadership.  In addition to her work with Save our Future, Komolafe also serves as CEO of Media Insight, an integrated marketing and communications firm in Nigeria.
During her trip to Seattle this week, Komolafe appeared on New Day Northwest to discuss the role and status of women in Africa.  Check out the interview below:

As CEO of Media Insight, Komolafe has worked on a wide variety of campaigns including the #BringBackOurGirls advocacy effort, encouraging the government to prioritize facilitating the return of the more than 200 schoolgirls kidnapped by radical group Boko Haram.  "Nigeria is still very patriarchal and women are discriminated against," Komolafe said at an IGD event Monday.  The Fellow recognizes, however, that her position at the head of a media business provides her with a direct and wide-reaching voice to advocate for change in her community.  "Nigeria is getting better," she said.  "We know we are a success story."

The Jennifer Potter Emerging Leaders Fellowship is awarded annually to one promising, young, African business leader who demonstrates a commitment to lifting lives through business growth and investment.  The Fellowship was established in 2013 in recognition of IGD's former President and CEO, commemorating her commitment to expanding economic opportunity.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Overlake Patient's Story Inspires Huge Increase in Number of Milk Donors

On August 5th, The Keller Group and Overlake Medical Center coordinated media interviews with Robin Ballard, mother to 32-week old Leif, and Madeleine Williams, a nurse who donated breast milk to Overlake's new Mother's Milk Depot. 

Leif was born premature at 28 weeks, and has been in the NICU at Overlake since his delivery nearly five weeks ago. Because Leif was born premature, Robin's breast milk had not yet come in, so he received donated breast milk in order to get the crucial nutrition he needed to survive. 

All four Seattle-based television news stations were there to capture Robin, Leif and Madeleine's unique connection to one another and share the trio's story. As a result of the coverage for the Mother's Milk Depot on King 5, KIRO 7, KOMO 4 and Q13 Fox News, the Denver Milk Bank received 26 new inquiries from potential donors last week.  That's a 225 percent increase over the total number of donors to Overlake's Depot in the past eight months! 

The Keller Group and Overlake Medical Center could not be happier with this outpouring of support from members of the Pacific Northwest community - we're incredibly thankful local media showed such interest in sharing Robin and Leif's story and are pleased to announce doing so has inspired many women to explore donating their own breast milk. 

Donated breast milk provides life-saving nutrition to premature babies and there is currently a critical shortage of donated human milk. With 60,000 low birth weight infants born every year who need donated breast milk for nourishment to survive, this huge increase in donors is truly life-saving.

Thank you again to Robin and Madeleine for sharing your stories!  

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Overlake Medical Center Opens Mother's Milk Depot

The Women's Clinic at Overlake Medical Center has opened a Mother's Milk Depot, where moms can donate their breast milk to infants in need. Overlake is one of only a few hospitals in Western Washington to offer a local donation location to mothers in the greater Seattle area.

"We're very excited to bring this new, vital service to our community," said Lynne Sanders, manager of Overlake Medical Center's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. "Our top priority is providing evidence-based treatment and best practice to those in our care, including the hospital's youngest patients in our NICU." 

Today, The Keller Group got the privilege to see the impact of the breast milk donated to the Mother's Milk Depot firsthand when our staff visited 32 week old Leif in Overlake Medical Center's NICU.

Leif was born premature at 28 weeks, and has been in the NICU at Overlake for almost 5 weeks. When he was born, Leif's mother's breast milk had not come in yet, so he received donated breast milk in order to get the crucial nutrition that he needed to survive. 

Twenty-seven-year-old Madeleine Williams, a donor and mother to her own 7-month-old son, is hoping more mothers will donate surplus breast milk. She recently donated more than 300 ounces of surplus breast milk to Overlake's new milk depot. Williams works in Overlake Medical Center's Emergency Department as a nurse. 

"We've been so blessed with a healthy child," Williams said; but she also knows there are families who are not able to produce milk for their premature infants. "There are babies out there who are dying because they don't have this nourishing milk that they need for their bodies. I feel so lucky to be able to give such a unique gift," she continued. 

With the opening of its Mother's Milk Depot, Overlake hopes to make it more convenient for moms to donate and serve its infants. Last year, Overlake's NICU used more than 1,000 ounces of donated human milk to treat critically ill premature infants. 

"Donating breast milk is a true labor of love that can provide life-saving nutrition and immune support to fragile, premature babies," said Mother's Milk Depot manager Sandra Salmon, RN, who specializes in mom and baby care as a part of the Overlake Medical Clinics Women's Clinic. "With the opening of our milk depot, we're looking for mothers who would like to join our efforts to provide the best support possible to these infants." 

Frequently Asked Questions about Mother's Milk Depots: 

1. What is a milk depot? - A milk depot is a controlled collection point where healthy, lactating women can donate their surplus breast milk for premature babies. The milk collection, shipping, processing and distribution are overseen by the Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBANA), an organization consisting of many banks and collection depots throughout the United States and Canada. The Overlake Mother's Milk Depot partners with the Mother's Milk Bank of Colorado, which provides the necessary screening and blood testing at no cost to donating moms. 

2. Why should moms donate their breast milk? - Donated breast milk provides life-saving nutrition to premature babies. In the United States, there is a critical shortage of donated human milk. According to HMBANA, there 60,000 low birth weight infants born every year who need donated breast milk for life-saving nourishment. 

3. Why is human breast milk important to pre-term infants? - According to the American Academy of Pediatrics:
"The benefits of feeding human milk to preterm infants are realized not only in the NICU, but also in the fewer hospital readmissions for illness in the three years after hospital discharge. The potent benefits of human milk are such that all preterm infants should receive human milk. Milk from the infant's own mother, fresh or previously frozen, should be the primary diet, and it should be fortified appropriately for the infant born weighing less than 1.5 kg [3.3 lbs]. If the mother's milk is unavailable despite significant lactation support, pasteurized donor milk should be used." 

4. How does the process work? - Moms who have been screened and accepted as prospective donors can come to Overlake Women's Clinic to drop off their frozen breast milk and blood work to be tested at their outpatient lab. The milk is temporarily stored in a deep freeze state before being shipped, along with blood samples, to Mother's Milk Bank in Colorado for processing. By providing this service, Overlake spares busy, nursing moms the task of packaging and shipping their donated milk. 

5. Who can donate? - Healthy lactating moms with infants under 1 year of age can be screened to be a donor. 

For more information on donating breast milk at Overlake's Mother's Milk Depot please call: (425) 635-6150 and/or visit

Local media was on site to capture the story of Leif and Overlake's new Mother's Milk Depot, check it out by clicking on the links below:

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Cardiac Survivor Celebrates Paramedics Who Came to Her Aid

Last February, Bellevue resident Heather Kelley was on her way to the Seahawks' Super Bowl celebration at CenturyLink Field when her heart stopped. Yesterday, after nearly six months, Kelley was reunited with her paramedic rescuers for the first time during Seahawks training camp at Virginia Mason Athletic Center (VMAC).

Kelley and her two daughters were among the estimated 700,000 Seahawks fans who flooded downtown Seattle to celebrate the return of the newly minted Super Bowl champions on Feb. 5, 2014, but the trio never got the chance to celebrate with the team and their fellow 12s.  Just outside CenturyLink field, Heather collapsed from a sudden cardiac arrest. Her two daughters immediately took action - 14-year-old Taylor called 911 and 15-year-old Ryan began performing CPR. When Paramedics arrived, they had to shock Heather's heart three times before getting a heartbeat. She was transported to Swedish Hospital where she later had a defibrillator implanted to help start her heart, should it suddenly stop again in the future. 

My near-death experience has deepened my sense of gratitude,” Kelley said. “I will never see a Medic One vehicle again without remembering that they saved my life and allowed me to continue being a mom to my beautiful daughters.”

Yesterday, Kelley, her husband and her two daughters reunited with first responders including Christina Dixon (pictured with Heather Kelley, left) and David Van Velthuyzen, the two paramedics who restarted Kelley’s heart. The family also got the chance to spend time with the team they were hoping to celebrate last February, attending training camp and meeting Seahawks defensive end Greg Scruggs.

“We’re proud of Heather’s daughters and the first responders who helped bring her back,” said Jan Sprake, executive director of the Medic One Foundation. “Our region has achieved a cardiac arrest survival rate of 62 percent thanks to our strong paramedic teams and the training at their disposal, but surviving a cardiac arrest all starts with the community and their steps to first activate Medic One and initiate CPR until our teams can arrive.”

Thanks to research and training funded by the Medic One Foundation, King County boasts the nation’s highest survival rate for witnessed sudden cardiac arrest.  Heather's oldest daughter, Ryan, learned in school that CPR cannot hurt someone, it can only help them.  In an interview yesterday, Ryan explained this knowledge gave her the confidence to perform CPR that fateful day in February - a choice that played an instrumental role in saving her mother's life.  Research that supports the development of educational programs like the one at Ryan Kelley's school is funded in large part by the Medic One Foundation, a local non-profit organization that ensures the quality of our region’s pre-hospital emergency care. 

The Medic One Foundation also funds paramedic training programs for first responders in the Pacific Northwest region.  The UW Paramedic Training program is among the best in the country, requiring 2,500 hours of instruction from University of Washington physicians - more than twice the number of hours required by most programs. Each student also averages 700 patient contacts during training, a number more than three times the national average.

To donate to the Medic One Foundation and support a lifesaving organization, click here.

Local media was on site to capture the Kelley family's emotional reunion with the paramedics who saved Heather's life - check out more coverage of this amazing story through the links below!


Women Take Control of Breast Health at Overlake Mammo Party

Overlake Medical Center hosted a group of women at a mammography party on Thursday, July 10th. Overlake offers mammography parties to encourage women to receive annual mammograms. While most women consider annual mammogram screenings to be an unpleasant chore, mammography parties make the patient experience one women can look forward to.

Each mammography party includes a spa-like environment for a group of women (family and friends invited by the hostess) to join together so they may relax and enjoy wine and cheese or tea and cookies while at the same time receiving their annual screening mammogram.

Early detection is critical to long term breast health and is vital to the successful treatment of breast cancer. Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death among women. Statistics indicate that one in eight women will develop breast cancer in her lifetime. If detected early, the five-year survival rate for breast cancer is 97 percent. Women over age 40 should have a mammogram every year, and women between the ages of 20 and 39 should have a mammogram every three years.

Overlake is pleased to offer the best technology for its patients, 3D Digital Mammography-a breakthrough technology poised to revolutionize how breast cancer is detected today. Overlake chose this breast imaging system based on its excellent image quality and patient safety. The ergonomic design ensures a more comfortable experience for patients. The diagnostic tool also supports more confident diagnoses by radiologists, saving valuable time, reducing the need for follow-up imaging and allowing patients to get answers faster.

In order to be a hostess or an attendee of a mammography party you must be at least 40 years of age and have no current symptoms (no lumps, bumps, pain, etc).

To schedule a party call (425) 688-5985 and one of Overlake's mammography coordinators will be happy to schedule your party. The hostess will be able to schedule the time and location most convenient for the party members. The coordinator will need the name and telephone number of each of the guests so she may call and obtain pertinent health and insurance information.

For more information, please visit

Thursday, July 17, 2014

New WGU Washington Scholarship Helps Local Students Earn Master's Degrees in Business

WGU Washington is offering a $2,000 scholarship to professionals looking to continue their education and professional development in business. The Master's Degree in Business Scholarship is designed for new WGU Washington students working toward a business-related master's degree. 

"In business, a master's degree can provide a foundation for career advancement," said Brian Stading, president of Centurylink's northwest region. "WGU Washington has proven to provide graduates with the knowledge and skills to succeed, and that's exactly what top employers are looking for in today's environment."

"WGU Washington's flexible model is ideal for busy, working adults interested in advancing in their careers," said WGU Washington Chancellor Jean Floten. "Our affordable, flat-rate tuition is already a good value, but these scholarships will go a long way to helping recipients earn a high-quality, university degree." 

The Master's Degree in Business Scholarship is competitive, a student needs to go through a series of steps and meet certain requirements in order to qualify. Applicants must submit an application for admission and be accepted to the university, submit their previous transcripts and complete an interview with a scholarship counselor. Eligible applicants must be newly enrolled in, or in the admissions process for, one of the following programs:
  • Master of Business Administration
  • MBA Information Technology Management
  • MBA Healthcare Management
  • M.S. Management and Leadership
  • M.S. Accounting
The five master's degrees in business were created for working adults looking to further their education in a way that fits with their lives. The state-endorsed, online university uses technology that allows students to study, complete assignments and take exams on their own time and at their own pace. 

The scholarship provides $500 per six-month term for as many as four terms, up to a $2,000 total value. Scholarships will be awarded based on, among other considerations, the student’s academic record, readiness for online study and current competency. The application deadline is Oct. 31, 2014.  

Click here for more information about the Master's in Business Scholarship.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Sclater Architects share insights on Bellevue Collection Expansion

On Thursday, June 26, Alan Sclater and Craig Kasman of Sclater Architects gave a tour of the entire Bellevue Collection. Downtown Bellevue currently has eight major projects under construction, including the Lincoln Square expansion that broke ground on June 11. Many cannot imagine Bellevue being anything but the urban hub that it is today. However, in the 1940s, what is now the city’s downtown core was used as farmland. Sclater Architects work on the Bellevue Collection has been a major catalyst in the areas transformation from rural land to metropolitan hub. 

During the walk, Sclater said that he never anticipated how big the Bellevue Collection would become. The Lincoln Square expansion is an exciting project for Sclater. One of the towers will include a 244-room hotel and 250 high-end apartments, while the second tower will house 700,000 square feet of office space and 177,000 square feet of retail. The expansion will encompass a total of 1.5 million square feet. 

Citing the fact Kemper Development Company (which oversees much of the development in downtown Bellevue) likes tenants who are “unique and special,” Sclater said the new retail tower will host more luxury stores.

 According to an article in 425 magazine, those who are curious to see what the expansion will look like upon its completion can visit The Studio, a high-tech sales office where state-of-the-art monitors and precise 3-D models illustrate what the Collection and downtown Bellevue will look like when it is finished. 

"We never thought it would get this big," Sclater said during the tour. "When we first started, we just wanted to build out to the street, just wanted to build an urban environment."

For more in depth looks at Sclater Architects’ expansion of Bellevue, check out these articles:

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Overlake Medical Center Targets Earlier Detection of Lung Cancer with Affordable Screening Alternative

Overlake Medical Center launched a new lung cancer screening program aimed to help identify lung cancer in its earlier stages. The hospital is hoping to increase the odds of surviving lung cancer with earlier detection. 

"Unfortunately, many patients we see are already in the later stages of lung cancer, when the chances of successful treatment are significantly reduced," said Todd Freudenberger, MD, an Overlake specialist in pulmonary medicine and one of the hospital's leading lung cancer experts. "With earlier detection, we know we can make a significant difference in the lives of our patients and tilt the odds back in their favor." 

"The discouraging reality about lung cancer is early stages of the cancer are not easily detected without such screenings," said Dr. Freudenberger. "Patients become aware of the disease when symptoms become apparent. Too often, this signals a later, less treatable, stage of disease. We know we can catch this earlier with the right screening technology."

The new lung cancer screening program uses an affordable, low-dose CT scan that uses only 10 to 30 percent as much radiation compared to a standard-dose CT scan. 

An Advisory panel to Medicare convened in May to discuss the low-dose CT screening for lung cancer and assess whether Medicare should cover the screening in high risk individuals. The panel voted against recommending national Medicare coverage for the annual screening for lung cancer.

“Having Medicare and other insurers cover screening would clearly save lives,” said Dr. Freudenberger. Overlake's goal is to keep low-dose CT screening as affordable as possible until these payers decide to offer coverage. Overlake Medical Center's low-dose lung cancer screening costs $199.

According to the American Cancer Society, lung cancer is the second most common type of cancer diagnosed in men and women. Lung cancer causes more deaths in the United States than breast, colon, pancreas, and prostate cancer combined. 

Should a screening reveal a patient does have lung cancer, Overlake Medical Center's Cancer Center provides the latest and most technologically advanced methods of treatment including surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and targeted drug therapy. 

Overlake's unique lung cancer program is distinguished by state-of-the-art diagnostic capabilities, leading-edge treatments and a skilled, interdisciplinary staff.

For more information about Overlake Medical Center's lung cancer program click here.

You can also read a more in depth story in the Puget Sound Business Journal!

Overlake Breast Cancer Program Achieves National Accreditation

Overlake Medical Center's breast cancer program has been granted a three-year/full accreditation designation by the National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers (NAPBC). The program is administered by the American College of Surgeons.

In order to get accreditation by the NAPBC, Overlake underwent rigorous evaluation processes and review of their performance. Receiving care at a NAPBC- accredited center ensures that a patient will have access to:

  • Comprehensive care, including a full range of state-of-the-art-services
  • A multidisciplinary team approach to coordinate the best treatment options
  • Information about ongoing clinical trials and new treatment options
  • Quality breast care close to home.
"We are very pleased to have earned the accreditation from the NAPBC once again," said Overlake breast surgeon Kristi M. Harrington, MD, PhD. "It demonstrates our ongoing commitment to providing the highest caliber of care to our breast patients."

The staff at Overlake's Breast Center is committed to providing compassionate, individualized care to its patients, believing this approach maximizes success and minimizes fears about living with and treating breast conditions. This philosophy has made Overlake the only breast center in the Seattle metro-area and one of just two in King County to be accredited by the NAPBC. 

Read more on this story in the Fort Mill Times!

WGU Washington's Teacher Preparation Program Earns Top Honors

WGU Washington's teacher preparation program has earned top honors from the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ). NCTQ has ranked Western Governors University's secondary teacher preparation program as the top program in the nation out of 2,400 programs listed in its Teacher Prep Review 2014. Additionally, the online university's elementary teacher preparation program ranked 16th in the nation.

The report cited WGU's commitment to its students and focus on quality when outlining what sets the program apart. According to the report, Western Governors University "had nearly perfect scores across the board." The online training program is accessible to aspiring teachers across the nation. The report also stated, "Western Governors University places staff in every state who carefully oversee the delivery of a strong student teaching experience."

"As a long time leader in education, I recognize the tremendous significance of this honor for WGU Washington," said Dr. Gary Livingston, the former chancellor of the Community Colleges of Spokane and superintendent of the Spokane Public Schools. "The top ranking validates the university's online, competency-based approach to teacher preparation. WGU Washington focuses on demonstrating mastery of the skills and knowledge effective teachers’ need, with a strong emphasis on a meaningful student teaching experience, ensuring all graduates are classroom-ready on day one."

WGU was one of only 10 institutions named to the top lists for both elementary and secondary teacher education. It is also the first exclusively online university to earn accreditation from the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education for its teacher preparation programs.

For more information about WGU's teacher education programs click here!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Overlake's Strong Performance Earns S&P Ratings Upgrade

Overlake Medical Center has earned a financial ratings increase for the sixth time. They have gone from "A-" to "A" with a stable outlook from Standard and Poor's Rating Service.

CFO Gary McLaughlin presented in front of both Moody's and S&P with new CEO J. Michael Marsh last month in San Francisco. McLaughlin said, "We at Overlake are extremely pleased with our solid financial performance. Hospitals and healthcare providers across the country face continued financial pressure to keep pace with needed infrastructure investment, regulatory pressures, and declining reimbursement for services. Receiving this increase is a powerful statement about Overlake's financial health and management."

Overlake's upgrade to "A" is due in large part to the medical center's successful completion of an electronic medical record conversion during the past year. S&P also noted in the report that Overlake has a "good management team that has consistently delivered on results and has shown detailed consideration to future planning."

To read the full story on Overlake's rating upgrade click here!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

WGU Washington awards degrees to a record number of graduates

Saturday, May 17th WGU Washington awarded a record number of degrees during its commencement ceremony at McCaw Hall in Seattle. Students, family members, mentors, and community supporters packed McCaw Hall to celebrate the online university's largest class of graduates yet and recognize the university's increasing role in strengthening the state's workforce with career-ready graduates.

WGU Washington offers career-focused degrees for a flat-rate of $6,000 per year for most programs. Of the school's 6,000 full-time students, more than 2,500 are enrolled in science, technology, engineering, or math related programs (STEM). The university is only three years old and awarded over 1,000 bachelor's and master's degrees this year-a nearly 100 percent increase over the size of last year's graduating class. Nearly half of the graduating class is receiving a STEM-related credential.

"We are incredibly proud of the academic accomplishments of the WGU Washington class of 2014," said WGU Washington Chancellor Jean Floten. "The record number of graduates reaffirms the our online, competency-based model is an effective and practical way for working adults to achieve their higher education goals in the state of Washington."

To see the personal stories of students who graduated with this year's class click on the links below!

Tacoma News Tribune

Redmond Reporter

Digital Journal 

Bonnie Lake Courier-Herald

Kent Reporter 

Maple Valley Reporter

Sequim Gazette

Walla Walla Union Bulletin 

Bainbridge Island Review

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

New device at Overlake Hospital helps cure atrial fibrillation

Overlake Hospital Medical Center's electrophysiology program is using new pressure feedback technology to increase success rates in a procedure to cure atrial fibrillation.

Atrial fibrillation is the most common type of heart arrhythmia and currently affects 2.5 million American adults. In a heart suffering from atrial fibrillation, irregular electrical signals are produced in the heart, creating a fast or irregular heartbeat.

In the 1990s Doctor Michael Haissaguerre and his team identified electrical signals from the pulmonary veins as the cause of atrial fibrillation. Haissaguerre then originated the technique of isolating signals from the pulmonary veins as a cure.

This procedure is now commonly conducted surgically by a catheter device inserted up an artery in the leg which allows the surgeon to map the interior of the heart. After this is completed, the surgeon uses radio frequency to create lesions around the pulmonary vein, creating a barrier to unwanted electrical signals. This surgery provides a less invasive alternative to an open-heart procedure.

To perform this procedure accurately, surgeons need to apply the perfect amount of pressure with the tip of the catheter on the walls of the heart. If too little pressure is applied lesions will not form effectively and if too much pressure is applied the tissue could be perforated. Previously surgeons had to perform this procedure somewhat blind in terms of the pressure applied, causing a 10 to 20 percent error rate where surgeons applied too little pressure.

Today, Overlake is the first hospital to use the ThermoCool SmartTouch, a catheter that provides computer feedback on the amount of pressure being applied during atrial fibrillation procedures. According to the Bellevue Reporter, before the introduction of the TermoCool SmartTouch, surgeons with Overlake had been able to achieve an 80 to 90 percent success rate of non-recurrence in patients. The new catheter improves accuracy in the amount of pressure applied and has the ability to create 3D maps of the interior of the heart.

Earlier this month, Overlake Hospital demoed the new technology for reporters. Check out Daniel Nash's piece from Monday's Bellevue Reporter here!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Reflections from WGU Washington Grads

WGU Washington's commencement ceremony is fast approaching and, in the lead up to the big day, the state-endorsed online university has taken a moment to ask its graduates to reflect on what it took to earn their degrees.

From parenthood to full-time employment, it seems just about every WGU grad has something else on their plate in addition to earning his or her degree.  "By going to WGU, I could get a degree the way I wanted, the way I needed, and at the pace that was right for me," said soon-to-be graduate Erica.

To read more student stories, check out WGU Washington's Blog and stay tuned for updates about next month's commencement ceremony, scheduled for May 17th at McCaw Hall!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Overlake Bandage Ball Gala Raises nearly $1 million

Overlake Medical Center’s 2014 Bandage Ball gala and auction held on March 29 at the Bellevue Hyatt’s Grand Ballroom raised nearly $1 million to help fund a new, $15 million comprehensive, state-of-the-art cancer center.

“This year’s Bandage Ball was hugely successful and exceeded our expectations,” said Molly Stearns, Overlake’s vice president of fund development and executive director of the foundation & auxiliaries. “We are eternally grateful for the continuing support of this generous community and are committed to ensuring our patients receive the best possible care here at Overlake.”

Nearly 1,000 people attended the event to raise funds for the new cancer center that will reconfigure cancer outpatient services for more seamless coordinated care, and expand integrative and supportive services for patients and their families.

The new center is part of Overlake’s ongoing efforts to enhance patient-centered care and increase the hospital’s capacity to meet the growing needs of the Eastside community.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Holden Family Plays Benefit Concert to Save Washington Hall

This Saturday, the Holden Family and special guests The Teaching will perform a benefit concert for the campaign to restore and revitalize Washington Hall.

Jerry Large explains in his column in today's Seattle Times, "Washington Hall is in the midst of a rebirth, and that's good for Seattle's connection to its history.  The building, at 14th Avenue and East Fir Street in Seattle's Central Area, is more than a structure with a little nostalgia attached, yet it could have been torn down years ago."

In 2009, Historic Seattle bought Washington Hall and, today, the organization is making a final fundraising push to raise $2.6 million by June.  The money will be used to complete renovation of the Hall, creating spaces for resident groups like Hidmo, 206 Zulu, Voices Rising and other community organizations that call Washington Hall home.

The campaign to save Washington Hall has already raised enough money to replace the roof, complete necessary seismic stabilization work and install an elevator inside the building.

Restoring and revitalizing the Hall represents a crucial component of preserving the city's musical and cultural history.  In a piece that aired this Wednesday, KPLU's Florangela Davila interviewed Dave Holden, who will be performing at Saturday's benefit concert, about his family's history and connection to Washington Hall.

"Holden and his family grew up right across the street from the two-story brick building in the Central District," reports Davila.  "The club ... was one of the places where black musicians could play consistently."

"When Dad would put on a tuxedo and head off to a gig, the kids used to follow him to work," Holden told Davila.  "We snuck in the side door and we'd go to the back of the stage and look at out dad playing the piano."

No need to sneak in the side door to see the Holden Family play this Saturday - tickets for the concert are available at

Event Details:
Washington Hall Benefit Concert: The Holden Family and Special Guests The Teaching

Saturday, March 29th, 7:30 p.m.

Washington Hall, 153 14th Ave., Seattle, 98122

$20 general admission, $15 Historic Seattle members, $10 students and seniors

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Sclater Architects Announces Key Promotions

Sclater Architects announced yesterday the promotions of Senior Associate Scott Kunnanz to associate principal and Architect Robert Estep to associate.  Both staff members are currently working on the Lincoln Square and Bellevue Square expansion projects in Bellevue, Wash.

"This is an exciting time for our firm, with a number of major projects underway including the Lincoln Square expansion," said Alan Sclater, principal at Sclater Architects.  "Our greatest asset is the talent we have here and I congratulate Scott and Rob on their success."

Scott Kunnanz
Scott Kunnanz has more than 20 years of architecture experience and has worked for Sclater Architects since 1997.  While at Sclater, Kunnanz has worked on a number of major projects including the award winning 2020 5th Avenue Data Center in Seattle and the original Lincoln Square complex in Bellevue, Wash.

Kunnanz is the director of building information modeling for the firm and has been instrumental in the adoption of BIM technology as well as the development and implementation of BIM standards.  He is currently a project manager for the garage portion of the Lincoln Square expansion project, a new mixed-use development that will feature more than 700,000 square feet of office space, three levels of retail and entertainment space, a 244-room luxury hotel and 250 residential units.  The development will also include 2,120 parking spaces in a six-level underground garage.

Rob Estep
Rob Estep has more than 30 years experience in retail, mixed-use and residential architecture and has been with Sclater Architects since 2007.  While at Sclater, Estep has worked on a variety of retail and mixed-use projects including Bellevue Square and the Bellevue Square renovation.  He is currently serving a critical role on the design team for the Bellevue Square expansion project, a new mixed-use development with 175,000 square feet of retail space and 280,000 square feet of hotel and residential space in two towers.  The development will also have five levels of below-grade parking and pedestrian connectivity to adjacent properties.

Congratulations again to both Scott and Rob!

Monday, March 17, 2014

WGU Washington Chancellor Jean Floten on Seattle Times' Education Lab Blog

WGU Washington Chancellor Jean Floten traveled to Austin, TX earlier this month to participate in a panel discussion on the merits of low-cost degrees at the annual SXSWedu conference.

While some critics argue Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Florida Gov. Rick Scott's call for the creation of a $10,000 bachelor's degree represents the "Walmartization" of higher education, Floten offered an alternative perspective in an interview with Seattle Times Higher Education Reporter Katherine Long.  "To me, it's not so much the $10,000 degree as it is that higher education needs to find better ways to deliver its content," Floten said, according to a post on the Seattle Times' Education Lab Blog this morning.  "What can we do to be cheaper, faster, better?"

Check out the full Education Lab Blog post here.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Overlake Medical Center Names New CEO

After conducting a national search, Overlake Medical Center's Board of Trustees announced today the appointment of J. Michael Marsh as the medical center's new President and CEO.

"We are pleased to have a progressive, visionary health care leader to guide Overlake into the future delivery of health and wellness services to the Eastside community," said John Hayhurst, Chairman of the Overlake Board of Trustees.

Marsh comes to Overlake from Providence Health & Services, an integrated health care system that includes 32 hospitals in five states.  He has served in a number of senior executive positions during his 28-year career, including Chief Strategy Officer/Chief Operating Officer for the Washington/Montana region that included accountability for 10 hospitals, home health, hospice, skilled nursing facilities, outpatient centers and physician clinics.  Most recently he served as Chief Administrative Officer for the Western Washington region that included eight hospitals, more than 1,000 employed physicians and 18,000 employees.

"I'm excited to join Overlake and work alongside their group of amazing leaders, physicians and staff," Marsh said.  "Overlake's emphasis on quality, customer service, and its position as an Eastside community asset were compelling reasons for me to join this team.  They treat their patients with care, dignity and understanding.  They live that commitment every day."

Marsh was chosen after Craig Hendrickson announced his retirement last summer.  Hendrickson has served as the Eastside non-profit health system's CEO since 2001.

"Our hospital has been fortunate to have incredible leadership from the very start," said Cecily Hall, immediate past chair of the Overlake Medical Center Board of Trustees and leader of the board's executive search committee.  "We want to thank Craig Hendrickson for his leadership, service and commitment for the past 13 years and welcome Mike to our Overlake family."

Marsh starts on April 7, 2014.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Best-Selling Author Jane Green's Book Signings to Benefit Supportive Cancer Care Awareness

The Sheri and Les Biller Family Foundation is hosting two events with New York Times best-selling author Jane Green early next month.

Green is visiting Seattle to promote her new book, "Tempting Fate," and will be raising funds for the Sheri & Les Biller Patient and Family Resource Center in the process.  The author has two events scheduled during her first trip to the Emerald City - a brunch on Sunday, April 6 at the Chihuly Boathouse and a luncheon Monday, April 7 at the Fairmont Olympic hotel.  Both women-only events will feature discussion of the book's themes including fidelity, relationships and more. 100 percent of the proceeds from tickets sales will benefit the Sheri & Les Biller Patients and Family Resource Center at City of Hope, a facility which is considered the gold standard of comprehensive, patient-focused care.

Established by local philanthropists Les and Sheri Biller through their family foundation, the Resource Center embodies City of Hope's mantra "There is no profit in curing the body if in the process we destroy the soul."  Providing access to pain and palliative care physicians, psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, spiritual care chaplains and more, the Biller Resource Center strives to equip patients, their families and caregivers with the necessary resources and support to manage the challenges related to serious illness.

Biller and Green first met in 2010 when Biller was serving as the Chairman of City of Hope's board.  Green had just released a book in which one of the main characters was dying of cancer; the story centered on how family members dealt with the diagnosis.  The story resonated with Biller, who created the Resource Center at City of Hope based on her personal experiences with two friends who died from breast cancer.

"We are thrilled to welcome Jane to Seattle and partner with her to raise funds and awareness for the Biller Resource Center," said Sheri Biller in a statement issued today.  "The Center's focus on supportive care - serving not only the families, but also the friends and caregivers of patients who are critically ill - is something about which both Jane and I are deeply passionate."

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Physicians Replace Heart Valve with New Minimally-Invasive Procedure

Yesterday, physicians at Overlake Medical Center replaced a valve in the heart of an 87-year-old man using a game-changing, minimally invasive procedure. 

Transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) is a procedure that uses a catheter to replace a patient’s aortic valve with an artificial valve that greatly improves the ability of the patient’s heart to regulate the flow of blood.  The procedure is a less-invasive alternative for patients with severe stenosis of the aortic valve who, as such, are not suitable candidates for traditional surgery.   Aortic stenosis is the narrowing of the aortic valve – usually caused by calcium build up or scarring – that restricts blood flow through the heart, sometimes resulting in heart failure.

Doctors from Group Health and Overlake Medical Center’s Heart Team demonstrated the procedure for members of the media yesterday – check out the Bellevue Reporter's story and coverage on Q13  below!

Overlake is the only hospital on the Eastside, and one of only four hospitals in the state, to provide the TAVR procedure.  Because there aren't any other treatment options for patients with severe or critical aortic valve stenosis, this procedure offers new hope to patients and their family members.

“Before TAVR, patients diagnosed with severe symptomatic aortic stenosis who were not surgical candidates carried a mortality rate as high as 50 percent at two years,” said Scott J. Haugen, MD, Interventional Cardiologist at Group Health Bellevue Medical Center and co-medical director of the TAVR program at Overlake Medical Center.  “In a clinical trial, TAVR reduced mortality in the same patient population by greater than 20 percent.  For the first time, we have the opportunity for Overlake and Group Health to not only help improve those patients’ length of life, but also their quality of life.”

Patients interested in learning more about the TAVR procedure should contact the Overlake Valve Clinic at 1.855.895.VALV (8258) or visit  More information about Group Health cardiology is available at and

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Overlake Hosts 54th Annual Bandage Ball

Mark your calendars!  Overlake Medical Center Foundation & Auxiliaries will host its annual Bandage Ball gala and auction on Saturday, March 29 at the Hyatt Regency Bellevue.  Proceeds from this year's event will go toward the establishment of a new cancer center.

The Bandage Ball marks the official kick off of the Overlake Foundation & Auxiliaries' $10 million campaign to raise critical funding for the $15 million facility.  In a statement issued last week, Overlake's Vice President of Fund Development and Executive Director of the Foundation and Auxiliaries Molly Stearns said, "The Bandage Ball represents an opportunity to expand and heighten the level of care Overlake provides its patients.  We're committed to providing the Eastside with the highest caliber of care available, and the funds raised at this year's event will allow us to continue to do just that."

One of the Eastside's premier social events, the Bandage Ball is expected to gather more than 800 community leaders in support of Overlake and its new cancer center.  First held in 1960 to celebrate the opening of Overlake Hospital, the Bandage Ball has raised more than $10 million in the last 16 years.  Last year's even alone raise $1.1 million for the David and Shelley Hovind Heart and Vascular Center.

Patty Edwards (at podium) and David and Shelley Hovind at last year's Bandage Ball.  Edwards announced she planned to donate an additional $250,000 to the David and Shelley Hovind Heart and Vascular Center.
This year's event will feature auctioneer Mark Schenfeld from Stokes Auction Group, and be emceed by local media personality and Puget Sound Business Journal columnist Patti Payne.  The event includes dinner, dancing and an auction featuring items such as trips to Tuscany, Maui, and a private chef's dinner at the Columbia Tower Club.  Tickets are $300 per person, $3,000 for a table of 10.

Interested in attending or volunteering for the event? Contact Jennifer Fischer at 425.688.5526 or

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

WGU Washington Adds New Master's Program

Adding to its already expansive list of degree offerings, WGU Washington announced yesterday it has launched a new master’s degree program in its College of Business.  The online university is now offering students the opportunity to earn a Master’s in Management and Leadership.

“We’re pleased to be adding this new program,” WGU Washington Chancellor Jean Floten said in a statement yesterday.  “WGU Washington is committed to equipping its students to excel in the workplace, and the addition of the Master’s in Management and Leadership represents yet another way we can help not only our students, but their future employers as well.”

The M.S. in Management and Leadership is designed for business professionals who wish to expand their career opportunities or improve their job performance by honing their ability to be effective leaders and managers, whether they aspire to enter management or are already in a management role.  Courses will cover team leadership, data-driven decision making and change management and innovation.

WGU Washington is also offering scholarships to students applying to the new program.  Valued up to $2,000 each, the scholarships are $500 awards that are renewable for up to four terms.  

Interested in learning more about WGU Washington’s new Master’s in Management and Leadership?  Visit

Friday, January 17, 2014

WGU Graduates Earn High Ratings from Employers

100 percent of WGU graduates are prepared for their jobs, according to a recent survey conducted by Harris Interactive.

The survey, which asked employers of WGU grads about alumni’s job preparedness and performance, revealed high levels of satisfaction with WGU alumni:
  • ·         96 percent of employers surveyed said WGU graduates exceeded their expectations
  • ·         97 percent rated WGU graduates’ job performance as good as or better than the job performance of graduates from their colleges and universities
  • ·         100 percent said the WGU graduates they hired were prepared for their jobs; 88 percent said they were very well or extremely prepared

“WGU Washington allows working adults to  earn the skills and knowledge to keep our state’s businesses competitive in the global marketplace,” said Don Brunell, former president of the Association of Washington Business and member of the Washington State Advisory Board for WGU Washington.  “The university’s model ensures its graduates are well prepared to be valuable, contributing employees.”

The unique nature of the model referenced by Brunell has allowed WGU Washington to provide an affordable alternative to traditional models of higher education.  After the passage of legislation in Olympia last spring that made WGU Washington students eligible to apply for State Need Grant funds, Washington’s only state-endorsed online university has taken off.  Hitting a record 5,000 students enrolled last fall, Washington is home to more WGU students than any other state in the country.

Want to learn more about WGU Washington’s innovative approach to higher education? Visit