Release Date: Jan 04, 2022

SHELTON, WA – Across Washington state, rural health care clinics call Pamela Schlauderaff when they need an answer, an intermediary or an advocate.

For the past 20 years, Pamela Schlauderaff, Mason Health’s Director of Quality, Patient Safety and Regulatory Compliance, has worked closely with the Washington State Office of Rural Health to improve the quality and safety of rural health care clinics throughout the state.

Schlauderaff enjoys working as a mentor for rural health clinics and sharing what she has learned to help rural health clinics improve the care provided to their communities.

Her advocacy, passion and service lead the National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health (NOSORH) to recognize her as the Community Star for the state of Washington, in connection with the Power of Rural movement and National Rural Health Day in November.

Each year, NOSORH honors as Community Stars people from throughout the country who are making outstanding contributions to improve rural health in America. Schlauderaff was nominated by the Office of Rural Health within the Washington State Department of Health.

“To me, to even be nominated by the staff at the Department of Health, that’s the biggest compliment,” she said. “It is a huge honor and shows the value of collaboration.”

Schlauderaff is a fifth-generation Sheltonian. Inspired by her grandmother, she began her career in nursing four decades ago as a nurse during the HIV/AIDS epidemic. She went on to train people to work as nurses at a United Nations refugee camp.

In 1985, Schlauderaff started Olympic Physicians in Shelton with her husband, Dr. Mark Schlauderaff, MD. They owned and operated three clinic locations before Olympic Physicians became part of the Mason Health family in 2013.

During their leadership, Olympic Physicians focused on community well-being, participating in six Department of Health collaborative training events focused on transforming the way health care is delivered.

Rather than waiting for the patient to arrive at the door sick, the focus shifted to early detection and prevention: making sure cancers were prevented or diagnosed early, that chronic diseases, such as, diabetes and heart disease, were managed proactively, that mental health services were integrated with primary care, and that patients could access primary care rather than going to the emergency room.

This focus on improving the primary care experience led to Olympic Physicians being recognized as a Patient-Centered Medical Home by the National Committee for Quality Assurance.

First with Olympic Physicians and then continuing with her role at Mason Health, Pamela Schlauderaff began working with the Office of Rural Health and became entrenched and active in rural health issues.

Rural health clinics face different and unique challenges compared to their urban counterparts. More patients use Medicare and Medicaid coverage, which necessitates a different payment methodology.

The other main issue facing rural health clinics is workforce shortages — it is hard to compete with urban centers for employees and there are fewer training opportunities for staff.

Schlauderaff served as president of the Rural Health Clinic Association of Washington and led negotiations with the Governor’s office to bring the issues affecting rural health care to the forefront.

“I’ve been an advocate and a resource for other clinics,” she said. “For many rural clinics in a pickle, I was the intermediate voice that could ask questions without raising red flags. I have worked with the state on rural health clinic billing and I am called on for technical assistance on interpreting rules.”

In the past, Schlauderaff has worked with other clinics on their rural health clinic surveys and completed site visits, focusing on teaching best practice. She has developed strong mutual relationships with other clinics.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Schlauderaff has written policies and developed a training plan to manage employee safety, minimizing the risk to Mason Health's workforce and other patients.

In 2021, Schlauderaff obtained a Certified Professional Patient Safety (CPPS) credential from the Institute for Healthcare Improvement. She is committed to advocating for safe, quality patient care.

“The real way you make a difference in a community is by keeping your people well,” she said. “That is Mason Health’s focus. Mason Health has a bright future, and our goals and focus very much are moving toward focusing on the community good and engaging proactively with the community.”

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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