CONNECTING PROFESSIONALS TO COMMUNITIES

Volunteer/Retired Providers (VRP) Program

 

In the first six months of 2014, volunteer or retired providers cared for more than 98,000 patients in Washington state. The average volunteer donated 83 hours between January – June 2014 and cared for 141 patients.

If we assume that all the patients served by VRP volunteers would have otherwise gone to a hospital emergency room (approximately $1,216 per ER visit), VRP services provided in Washington from January – June 2014 can be valued at between $36 – $120 million, in what may have been uncompensated emergency room visits.

WWAHEC helps place volunteer or retired professionals throughout Washington state, including physicians and physician assistants, dentists, nurses, pharmacists and other health professionals.

 

Important Information for Volunteer Providers

You will need Adobe Acrobat to download any documents in this section. 

Malpractice Insurance

The Washington Volunteer/Retired Providers Malpractice Insurance Program is funded by the Washington State Department of Health and managed through the Western Washington Area Health Education Center.

The program is designed to encourage health care volunteers in Washington state by paying the malpractice insurance premiums for those providing non-invasive care to underserved patients. Volunteers who only use their Washington professional license for volunteer work are additionally eligible for free license renewal (see License Renewal below). All professional license and malpractice insurance costs, other than late fees and testing fees, are covered by the Washington State Department of Health. The definition of “retired” has been expanded to include providers with site-specific malpractice insurance coverage.

 

Eligible professionals include:

    • Dentists
    • Doctors
    • Dental Hygienists
    • Nurse Practitioners
    • Physician Assistants
    • Pharmacists
    • Registered Nurses
    • Licensed Acupuncturist
    • Licensed Mental Health Providers
    • Licensed Vision Care Professionals
    • Chiropractors
    • Other health care professionals deemed in short supply by the Department of Health

There is no minimum number of service hours required of volunteers. Providers must be licensed in Washington state. Currently, non-invasive primary and specialty care is covered under the malpractice insurance. For medical providers, non-invasive care is defined to include the administration of injections, suturing of minor lacerations, and the incision of boils and superficial abscesses. Non-invasive dental care includes diagnosis, oral hygiene, restoration and extraction. Obstetric care, orthodontia, and surgical treatments are not covered by our malpractice insurance.

A list of all currently approved Volunteer/Retired Provider sites is available here.

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The application for malpractice insurance is available here.

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License Renewal

Licensed health care professionals who are not currently using their Washington state license for paid work (such as retired professionals or individuals taking a leave of absence from their practice) are eligible for free license renewal, paid by the Washington State Department of Health. This benefit is intended to help eliminate barriers to volunteerism and increase access to health care for Washington state’s underserved patients.

If you are a licensed health care professional and you meet the following criteria:

  • you wish to volunteer at a Volunteer/Retired Providers Program approved site,
  • you are not currently receiving compensation for the use of your license,
  • your professional license is due for renewal within the next three months,

then please download and complete the following form.

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Send all license renewal documents to the address included on the form itself.

Volunteer Dentists Continuing Education

The Pacific Northwest Dental Conference (PNDC) will provide a complimentary conference badge to retired Washington State Dental Association (WSDA) member dentists who are participants in the Volunteer/Retired Providers Program.

WSDA dentists who are retired from practice, but wish to provide care as volunteers can do so in a variety of settings throughout the state. The PNDC will help retired dentist volunteers to eliminate out-of pocket expenses for continuing education. By attending the Pacific Northwest Dental Conference, dentists can obtain up to 12 of the 21 continuing education hours required annually by the state. Dentist volunteers can earn another seven CDE hours by donating care in an approved program. Other hours can be obtained through self-study or CDE presentations at local component dental society meetings.

For information about the complimentary conference badge, please contact the Katie Olsen at the Washington State Dental Association at Katie@wsda.org or (206) 448-1914.

Legislation Supporting Volunteer Providers

More information about the conditions placed on the VRP Program is available from the Washington State Legislature website, RCW 43.70.470 (Retired primary care provider liability malpractice insurance - conditions). VISIT SITE

The Federal Tort Claims Act and the Good Samaritan Law also provide avenues of support for volunteer/clinic malpractice protection. This PDF below contains a chart comparing all three programs.

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Clinic Sites Needing Volunteer/Retired Providers

AHEC is absolutely wonderful and allows our clinic to function with a variety of volunteers. That piece is HUGE as we charge a discounted fee for our patients and this is the only way we can afford to do so.”

Clinics interested in using VRP-insured volunteers must provide health care services for low-income patients regardless of ability to pay and must be approved by Western Washington Area Health Education Center.

The approval process is simple. Applications may be completed over the phone and faxed to the clinic for final review and signature.

The site approval process generally takes 30 minutes.

A site application is available here.

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A list of all currently approved VRP sites is available here.

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Great program. I plan to increase my involvement.”

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Volunteer Retired Provider Program (VRP)?

The Volunteer/Retired Providers Program is funded by the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) and managed through the Western Washington Area Health Education Center (WWAHEC).

The program is designed to encourage health care volunteers in Washington State by paying the malpractice insurance premiums for those providing non-invasive care to underserved patients. Volunteers who only use their Washington State professional license for volunteer work are additionally eligible for license renewal. All professional license and malpractice insurance costs, other than late fees and testing fees, are covered by the Washington State Department of Health. The definition of “retired” has been expanded to include providers with site-specific malpractice insurance coverage.

How do I sign-up?

You will need to fill out a three-page Physicians Insurance application. You can receive a form by:

  • emailing us at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address),
  • downloading the form from this link,
  • FAX (206-441-7137),
  • or regular mail.

Once you return the application to the WWAHEC Office, it usually takes two weeks to process.

Please note, this is site specific insurance and the clinic you volunteer for must be part of the program. You can find the list of VRP sites here. If you wish to volunteer at a site that is currently not part of the VRP Program, have them contact the WWAHEC Office to apply to join the program.  It is a simple process, see the “How can we become a VRP Site?” Section of the VRP FAQ below.

 

How much do I have to volunteer?

There is no minimum number of service hours required of volunteers.

What are common issues that can slow down my Malpractice Insurance application?
  • Your Social Security number is required – we understand the sensitive nature of including your Social Security number. We have several options to alleviate your concerns. Please contact the WWAHEC office directly at (206) 441-7137 or email us at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) and we will be happy to help you.
  • Date your volunteer service is to begin – must be a complete date with month, date & year (mm/dd/yyyy).
  • The clinic you will be volunteering at – this must be an approved VRP clinic site – you can find the list of VRP sites here.
  • A Washington State DOH License is required to participate in this program. We cannot provide coverage for out of state or national license holders.
  • Signature is required on the application.
Are there any other requirements to participate?

As a recipient of this benefit, you will be asked to participate in a brief annual survey, which is used by the Department of Health and policy makers to demonstrate program need and to better understand the healthcare safety net system.  The survey is also a great chance to update your contact information.

What is considered non-invasive?

For medical providers, non-invasive care is defined to include the administration of injections, suturing of minor lacerations, and the incision of boils and superficial abscesses. Obstetric care is not in any way covered under noninvasive medical care.

Non-invasive dental care includes diagnosis, oral hygiene, restoration and extraction. Orthodontia, and surgical treatments are not covered by our malpractice insurance. Orthodontia is not in any way covered under noninvasive dental care.

Will the VRP Program pay for continuing education?

Unfortunately, the VRP Program is not funded to pay for continuing education. Providers are responsible for their continuing education required for the licensure.

For dentist and dental hygienist only - The Pacific Northwest Dental Conference (PNDC) will provide a complimentary conference badge to retired Washington State Dental Association (WSDA) members who are participants in the Volunteer/Retired Providers Program. WSDA members who are retired from practice, but wish to provide care as volunteers can do so in a variety of settings throughout the state. The PNDC will help retired volunteers to eliminate out-of-pocket expenses for continuing education. By attending the Pacific Northwest Dental Conference, members can obtain up to 23.5 continuing education hours during the three day meeting. Washington State requires dentists to complete 21 continuing education hours and dental hygienists to complete 15 hours of continuing education annually.  Dentist volunteers can earn seven CDE hours by donating care in an approved program. Other hours can be obtained through self-study or CDE presentations at local component dental society meetings. Please contact the WWAHEC Office at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or (206) 441-7137 to request a letter noting that you are a volunteer in good standing.

Can I get my license renewed?

If you are a licensed health care professional and you meet the following criteria:

  • you wish to volunteer at a Volunteer/Retired Providers Program approved site,
  • you are not currently receiving compensation for the use of your license,
  • your professional license is due for renewal within the next three months.

 

How do I get my license renewed?

You will need to fill out the VRP License Renewal Form. You can receive a form by:

  • emailing us at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address),
  • downloading from this link
  • FAX (206-441-7137),
  • or regular mail.

Forms can be accepted 3 months prior to renewal date, but must be received by DOH by your license renewal date. The VRP Program cannot reimburse for license renewal already paid.

Forms MUST have a signature by your VRP Site Clinic Manager or Volunteer Coordinators. An email from a VRP Site Clinic Manager or Volunteer Coordinators may be sent to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) in place of a signature on the license renewal form.

The VRP Program will not pay any late or reissuance fees. All providers are personally responsible for late renewal penalty fees or expired license reissuance fees.

The VRP License Renewal Form must be sent to:

Volunteer Retired Providers Program Department of Health,
Office of Community Health Systems
Mary Roberts
P.O. Box 47853
Olympia, Washington 98504-7853

How can we become a VRP Site?

Clinics interested in using VRP-insured volunteers must provide health care services for low-income patients regardless of ability to pay and must be approved by Western Washington Area Health Education Center.

The approval process is simple. You will need to fill out a two-page VRP Site Application. You can receive a form by:

  • emailing us at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address),
  • downloading the application from this link
  • FAX (206-441-7137), or
  • regular mail.

Once you return the application to the WWAHEC Office, it usually takes two weeks to process.

In order to be approved for participation in the VRP program, clinics must;

  • Provide healthcare services to low income patients and
  • Assure continuity of care and
  • Have arrangements for after-hours coverage (such as ER access) and
  • Have a referral system to ensure patient access to care beyond services of volunteer providers and
  • Not compensate volunteers whose malpractice insurance is paid through the VRP program.

Participant clinics may be based out of non-profit or for-profit settings, as long as the services provided by volunteers insured through the VRP program meet all the criteria listed above.

What are the most common issues that can slow down my VRP Site Application?
  • Make sure to include all supporting documentation such as a copy of your IRS 501c3 letter.
  • Please fill out the form completely.  If you have any questions, please feel free to call the WWAHEC Office at (206) 441-7137.
  • Signature is required on the application.
What is the insurance coverage?

Each Medical Incident - $1,000,000
Aggregate - $5,000,000

Are there any other requirements as a site to participate?

As a recipient of this benefit, you will be asked to participate in a brief annual survey, which is used by the Department of Health and policy makers to demonstrate program need and to better understand the healthcare safety net system.  The survey is also a great chance to update your site contact information.

Who is the insurance carrier?

Insurance is provided under an umbrella policy, through which coverage is extended to all volunteer types by a single insurer, Physicians Insurance (PI). The contact address for PI is 1301 2nd Ave, Suite 2700, Seattle, WA 98111. Phone: (206) 343-7300. Fax: (206) 343-7100.

The annual policy premium is calculated based on the number of individual patient encounters provided by the specific professional volunteer types during the previous policy period.

Is there tail coverage?

Yes. This is part of the umbrella policy through Physicians Insurance, which is automatically extended, and will be picked up by the Policyholder. The tail coverage is:
Each Medical Incident - $1,000,000
Aggregate - $5,000,000

If you have any questions, please contact the WWAHEC Office at (206) 441-7137 or email us at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).