Release Date: Dec 16, 2021

SHELTON, WA – Whether it was volunteering in middle school to provide childcare for a teen parent support group or most recently working at a free acute care clinic in Olympia, Iris Hilburger has demonstrated a strong desire to help people throughout her life and is passionate about supporting others in their endeavors to get involved in their community. Hilburger joined the Mason Health team in November 2021 as the new Volunteer Coordinator. With her passion for helping people and improving the health of communities, Hilburger is an excellent fit for the District.

Hilburger grew up in Hillsboro, Ore., and graduated in 2008 from Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Ore., with a major in Environmental Studies and a concentration in Conservation Biology.

In college, Hilburger got her first taste of community medicine when she and a couple of friends were awarded grant funding to support a rural health clinic in Nicaragua. In Nicaragua, cervical cancer is the leading cause of cancer death among women. In the rural community served by this clinic, most women worked at banana plantations where their wage did not cover the cost of bus fare to the nearest city to receive cancer treatment. With the grant they funded pap smears, purchased medical equipment that removed abnormal cervical cell growth and hired community health workers to provide a series of workshops on reproductive health.

After university, Hilburger completed an AmeriCorps fellowship at the Josiah Hill III Clinic in Portland, a clinic focused on environmental justice. Hilburger created in-home health assessments for immigrant and refugee families — ensuring that their homes were free of toxins, such as lead and mold — and worked with families to create affordable non-toxic cleaning kits.

“I care about health care and equity,” Hilburger said. “I think a lot about how people’s environment impacts them. My interest in health care is centered on population and environmental health.”

Hilburger went on to work as an instructor for an outdoor school for sixth-grade students, and later became a backpacking and sea kayaking instructor. She moved to Olympia in 2014 and worked as the Farmers Market Coordinator and then Sales Director for OlyKraut.

For the past three years, she worked as the volunteer and program coordinator for The Olympia Free Clinic (TOFC). At TOFC, she recruited and trained medical and non-medical volunteers, developed student internship programs with local colleges, implemented a Gender Health Clinic, and acted as clinic supervisor when needed, ensuring that patients received appropriate care.

Hilburger is now taking prerequisite classes at South Puget Sound Community College, with the goal of becoming a registered nurse.

“At The Olympia Free Clinic, I gained a good sense of what it was like to work at a nonprofit,” she said. “I came to Mason Health because I want to understand the hospital side of things. My hope is to build on the foundation and strength of the volunteer program and support our volunteers during this challenging time of the COVID pandemic.”

Mason Health is rebuilding its volunteer workforce and is offering volunteer opportunities on a case-by-case basis, subject to COVID-19 regulations. To inquire about the volunteer program at Mason Health, email Iris Hilburger at

Mason Health, Public Hospital District No. 1 of Mason County, is certified by Det Norske Veritas (DNV) and is a licensed and accredited acute care hospital with a level four emergency trauma designation. There are more than 100 physicians on staff in 19 specialties. For more information or to find a health care provider, visit


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