Founder of the Renton RotaCare Clinic and a volunteer orthopedic clinic at Valley Medical Center, and key mover behind The New Hope Health Center in Tukwila
Robert Thompson, 59, had long taken an interest in how difficult it can be for the uninsured or underinsured to get care, ever since an inner-city residency rotation in obstetrics showed him how poor access put female patients at risk of complications during pregnancy. During subsequent years in practice, he often saw how unemployment and chronic medical conditions went hand in hand. In an effort to help alleviate these conditions, and working as a representative of Valley Medical Center, where he is executive manager, Thompson founded the Renton RotaCare Clinic, with help from the Renton Rotary, Renton Technical College and the Salvation Army. Since its opening in 2003, more than 3,000 uninsured patients have received treatment at the clinic, where about two dozen family practice physicians (including Dr. Bob) and internal medicine clinicians volunteer their time on Saturday mornings throughout the year. Rotary covers much of the cost of patients’ prescription medications, and Valley Medical Center (VMC) provides free lab and imaging services.
The effort further inspired Thompson to create a volunteer specialty clinic on the VMC campus, offering orthopedic services to uninsured patients through a partnership with Valley Orthopedic Associates. Patterned on the Mother Joseph Clinic at Swedish Medical Center, the clinic helps patients, many of whom are still in their prime working years, deal with joint injuries or severe arthritis.
He also helped set up a small, faith-based clinic in Tukwila. The New Hope Health Center provides a medical home for uninsured patients, where they can receive screening and treatment for chronic conditions, as well as diabetes education and mental health counseling.
Even with changes from health care reform, Thompson still expects universal access to care to be an issue. Reflecting on that reality, he says, “It’d be nice to be out of business, wouldn’t it?” —GIANNI TRUZZI
Top Doctors 2013: Community Service Award Winners
| July 2013
Robert Thompson, M.D.
The Puget Sound region is home to some of the most dedicated and knowledgeable health care practitioners in the world. But all of these resources can only make a difference in the life of an individual when he or she has access to them. This year as part of Top Doctors, we’re singling out for praise just a few of the many local health care practitioners and researchers—and their associated clinics and hospital outreach programs—who are making a difference in underserved, disenfranchised communities. These are doctors who are launching programs, volunteering their time and expertise, and building networks to improve health outlooks for people who, because of cultural and socio-economic barriers, might not otherwise get the care they need. Like many doctors in our region, these men and women go beyond the call to make our region healthier and happier. Seattle magazine, along with our Top Doctors Advisory Panel, is pleased to recognize these six outstanding leaders in the field.