Department ofHuman Resources

Group Health's New Puyallup Medical Center

GH's new Puyallup Medical Center represents the future of patient care. It will be the first outward demonstration of the design principles created through GH's Integrated Care and Facility Design initiative. Using Lean processes, more than 200 staff, providers, and patients contributed to identifying the requirements for the ideal patient medical center visit.

All current services (primary care, lab, pharmacy, and physical therapy) will move to the new location. Additionally, there will be new services, including obstetrics, occupational health, eyecare, and mobile mammography.

As part of the Integrated Care and Facility Design (ICFD) initiative, the new Puyallup clinic has lofty goals to reduce patient waiting, deliver more care in one room, reduce errors, and increase collaboration and communication among care team members. Combined with moving into a new, larger space equipped with new technologies, the goals of the ICFD initiative prompt changes in nearly every aspect of how staff and providers will go about their daily work. Clinic and administrative staff are busy testing and preparing for the hundreds of changes to work flows and processes that will go on inside the new clinic.

The current Puyallup Medical Center opened in 2000 and is bursting at the seams in terms of capacity. The clinic has 14,500 members, while the new clinic will have capacity for some 30,000 members. The current clinic is also the smallest in the Group Health system for the number of enrollees it serves. The new, sprawling 53,000 square-foot, two-story facility, two miles from the current clinic on Puyallup's South Hill, is due to open December 10th. With exterior walls and the roof now in place, the construction of Group Health's new Puyallup Medical Center is well underway. Read more here.

Click above for a preview of the new Puyallup clinic.

Health Care Reform Update

By: Donna Albers, Albers and Company

In a landmark decision, the Supreme Court upheld most of the provisions of the Affordable Care Act when it handed down its much-anticipated ruling in late June. As important as the decision is, it's just one step in a process that started before the Affordable Care Act passed and will continue for a long time to come.

Now that the Court has answered questions about the constitutionality of the law, providers like Group Health can turn their full attention to two critical issues: how to reform a healthcare system that is unsustainable because it costs too much and provides too little value to the people it is supposed to serve; and how to expand access to high-quality coverage and care.  Many details will emerge in the months ahead as state and federal policymakers begin to implement the provisions of the law that were upheld. Changes are still possible.

Key provisions impacting PLU and its employees for 2012 through 2014:

  • W-2 reporting for 2012 plan year of the aggregate value of applicable employer-sponsored coverage.  The new reporting requirement does not affect tax treatment of employer-sponsored health coverage and is intended for informational purposes only. 
  • The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) contains a provision to make certain preventive services available without copays, coinsurance or deductibles.  This provision will take effect for PLU at our next renewal, June 1, 2013.  For more about current preventive services, click here.
  • This next renewal Group Health will begin providing PLU employees with clear, consistent and comparable information about our health plan benefits and coverage that will include examples and a glossary of terms.
  • PPACA requires employers to inform all current employees and new hires of their coverage options through a written notice that includes the existence, description and contact information for the new Exchange(s), including the possibility of premium tax credit if the employer plan is less than 60% actuarial value.
  • To help fund PPACA, it imposes a new Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) fee, formerly the "Comparative Effectiveness Research" fee, on all individual and group policies. The first year the fee is $1 per covered life per year, the second year the fee adjusts to $2 per covered life and then it's indexed to national health expenditures thereafter until it ends in 2019. For purposes of the calculation, the term "covered lives" includes all enrolled employees + dependents.
  • An essential health benefits package will be mandated that provides a comprehensive set of services, limiting annual cost-sharing to the Health Savings Account limits.  There will be four categories of plans to be offered through the Exchanges, and in the individual and small group markets, varying based on the proportion of plan benefits.
  • Annual limits for health benefits are entirely prohibited for plan years beginning on or after 1/1/14. Annual limits are still allowed for Health FSAs, MSAs, HSAs,and HRAs (if integrated with a medical plan with no lifetime or annual benefit limits).

Group Health is on the right path as they focus on improving affordability and containing costs through care delivery system innovations that enhance quality and increase coordination.  They'll do this by continuing to develop innovations within their care delivery system and health plan benefits that emphasize primary care and prevention; encourage patients to be active participants in their own health and wellness; and improve coordination, efficiency, and quality.
Pertussis (Whooping Cough) is Still a Concern
It hasn't been in the news quite so much lately, but the pertussis (whooping cough) epidemic continues in the Northwest. In this video, Group Health pediatrician John Dunn, MD, addresses the ongoing epidemic in Washington State and what we can do to stop it. Health officials urge all adults, especially those who have contact with infants, children, and pregnant women, to make sure they have had their whooping cough vaccination. To learn more about what whooping cough is, the vaccine, and who is most at risk, please watch and share these Group Health informational videos so we can end this epidemic.
Willamette Dental Going Electronic

This fall, Willamette Dental Group will implement electronic dental records in all of their 54 locations. Office staff is currently training on the new software and are actively preparing for a smooth transition to this new patient management system. 

Throughout the development of this new system, they have been continually impressed at its ability to capture accurate data on patients, its reliability to support WD clinicians, and the convenience of instant access to valuable patient data.

Development Day Presenters Welcome

If you or your department are interested in presenting a workshop as part of Personal and Professional Development Day on Feb. 5th, 2013, please let us know.  All faculty, staff, and administrators will be invited to participate in a variety of sessions throughout the day.  HR will welcome workshop proposals through Nov. 1.  To submit your proposal, please email a one paragraph description of your workshop, including the names of presenters, to

Five key principles of long-term investing

If you have a major, long-term financial goal — such as paying for college tuition, buying a home or saving for retirement — saving and investing for those goals now should be among your highest priorities. Keep these five key principles in mind as you plan and carry out your investment strategy.

All investments fall into categories known as asset classes. The most widely used asset classes are:

  • Cash equivalents, including bank savings accounts, short-term certificates of deposit or CDs, U.S. Treasury bills and money market funds
  • Fixed-income investments, including bonds and bond funds
  • Equities, which include individual stocks and mutual funds investing in stocks

Each asset class has its own risk and return profile based on past performance. Generally speaking, cash equivalents pose the least risk but also offer the lowest returns, equities pose the most risk but offer the highest potential returns, and fixed-income investments fall between the risk and return levels of the other two asset classes. The way your investment portfolio is divided among the different asset classes is called your asset allocation, and it is key to achieving your goals. It’s up to you to choose, with professional advice if you prefer, an appropriate asset allocation based on your goals, your time horizon for achieving them, the level of return you’d like to get, and your tolerance for risk.

When it comes to investing for your future, putting all your eggs in one basket may present long-term challenges. When you leave your savings in just a few similar investments, you could be putting your money at too much risk or missing out on opportunities to improve your returns. You’re much better off diversifying — spreading your savings around a large enough quantity and variety of investments so that a significant loss on any one investment or segment of your portfolio will be less likely to drag down your entire portfolio. Diversification begins with dividing your savings among different asset classes, and many people believe that is enough. But to truly manage risk and maximize returns, consider dividing your savings among a variety of investments within each asset class you’ve chosen. There are, for example, ample opportunities to diversify within equities. Investing in both largecap stock funds (those owning mostly stocks of larger, well-established companies) and small-cap stock funds (those investing mostly in smaller, newer companies with the potential for rapid growth) enhances your diversification, as does investing in both domestic and international stock funds.

“Market timing” is the practice of intentionally moving your savings in and out of equities in an attempt to capture only the performance highs and avoid the lows. It’s extremely risky, and even the most experienced investment professionals find it challenging. By nature, stock prices go through short-term ups and downs. If you pull out of stocks during a down period, you may well lose the opportunity to share in gains when prices go back up again. Remember, historically, the stock market has always eventually recovered from a broad slump. Don’t let short-term volatility in equities or any other asset class distract you from staying on the path toward your long-term goals. Asset class: a group of securities that have similar characteristics and values that tend to move in the same direction as other securities of the same class. The main asset classes are equities (stocks), fixed-income investments (such as bonds) and cash equivalents (including short-term certificates of deposit and U.S. Treasury bills).

Asset allocation: the way your investment portfolio is divided among the different asset classes. Saving and Investing

When you contribute on a regular basis to a savings and investment account — whether it’s an account in your workplace savings plan or one you have opened either on your own or through a broker — you automatically let your savings take part in dollar-cost averaging. With dollar-cost averaging in play, market volatility may actually work to your advantage by enhancing your investment return. Dollar-cost averaging kicks in when you buy a fixed dollar amount of a particular investment at regular intervals, regardless of the direction markets are going in. When the investment’s price declines, you get more shares for the money you invest, which, over time, can lower your average cost per share. And the lower your cost to invest, the greater your potential rate of return. For example, in your workplace savings plan, you purchase $100 of Fund X each month for three months. In July, the price per share is $10, so you buy 10 shares. In August, each share is priced at $25, so you buy four shares. In September, each share goes for $10, so you buy 10 shares. During the three-month period, the average price per share was $15.00 ($10 plus $25 plus $10 equals $45, and $45 divided by 3 is $15.00). But your average cost per share was only $12.50 (your $300 total investment divided by the 24 total shares you purchased comes to $12.50). You paid less than the average price per share because you were able to buy more shares during the months when they cost less. Bear in mind that dollar-cost averaging cannot by itself guarantee you a profit or protect you against the risk of loss. But it can serve as a way to keep your long-term savings and investing growing.
You should take a fresh look at your portfolio at least annually, particularly to make sure it still reflects your intended asset allocation. Because different assets produce different results as financial markets fluctuate, your portfolio might drift away over time from the allocation you set up previously. For example, let’s say you started with a mix of 70% equities and 30% fixed-income investments, but now it’s a year later, and your portfolio is composed of 65% equities and 35% fixed-income investments. To return to your original 70/30 allocation, you can “rebalance” your portfolio by transferring balances from fixed-income investments to equities. Or you can choose to direct more of your future contributions into equities to get back to your target asset allocation. It also makes sense to rethink your asset allocation whenever your life circumstances change significantly due to an event like a large pay increase, marriage, the birth of a child, or divorce. As time progresses, you might end up deciding to take less risk with your investments or even choosing to take on more risk, depending on your preferences and what’s been happening in your life. You may also choose to revise the level of investment return you will target. In addition to monitoring your asset allocation, make sure your portfolio stays diversified enough to maintain the risk level you’re comfortable with.

Diversification is a technique to help reduce risk. There is no absolute guarantee that diversification will protect against a loss of income.

Dollar-cost averaging does not assure a profit or protect against a loss in declining markets. Because such a strategy involves periodic investment, you should consider your financial ability and willingness to continue purchases through periods of low price levels.

You should consider the investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses carefully before investing. Please call 877 518-9161, or go to for a current prospectus that contains this and other information. Please read the prospectus carefully before investing.

TIAA-CREF Individual & Institutional Services, LLC and Teachers Personal Investors Services, Inc., members FINRA, distribute securities products.

©2012 Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association-College Retirement Equities Fund, New York, NY 10017

Abuse Policy

By: Teri Phillips, Director of Human Resources

A new Washington state law requires higher education employees to report child abuse. Higher education employees join K-12 teachers, healthcare professionals and others who have long been required to report abuse.

The 2012 state legislature enacted Senate Bill 5991, requiring higher education employees to report suspected child abuse or neglect. "Administrative, academic and athletic department" employees, including student employees, have the mandatory duty to report such information directly to law enforcement or the state Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS). Under PLU policy, the neglect must also be reported to the PLU Child Abuse Prevention Coordinator.

All other higher education employees (those who are not administrative, academic or athletic department employees) are required to report suspected abuse to the PLU Child Abuse Prevention Coordinator.
The full PLU policy on Reporting Abuse or Neglect of a Child can be found here.

Sign-ups for Fall Fitness Classes Still Welcome
We are currently offering the following fall classes: Weight Watchers, Walk Live, Yoga, Water Aerobics, Strength Circuit and Road Runners Club. Please see our Fitness page for a list of current classes, their descriptions, and to RSVP.

Couch to 5K: Beginning October 18th, Road Runners Club will be hosting an 8 week Couch to 5K training program culminating in running the "Santa Run" together in December.  This is a great opportunity to get off the couch and start exercising!  Runs will start low and build on each other. Click here to learn more about the Couch to 5K program or contact Beth Crippen at for more information.

Pierce Transit Proposition One

Pierce Transit

Prop 1 is about maintaining reliable transportation service for seniors, people with disabilities, students and commuters. These services support economic development and access to jobs. This proposition would provide funding for Pierce County local bus service and paratransit service for people with disabilities. Pierce Transit gets people to jobs, supports economic development and keeps communities connected. Visit this link for more detailed information.

If Proposition 1 PASSES on Nov. 6th:

• Provide essential weekend service
• Service begins earlier in the mornings and continues later at night
• Restored service to Puyallup Fair and the Fourth of July Freedom Fair
• 23% Service Improvement over 6 years
• 0.3% Additional sales tax within service area

If Proposition 1 FAILS on Nov. 6th:

• Elimination of Saturday and Sunday service
• No service past 7pm
• No restoration of service to Puyallup Fair and the Fourth of July Freedom Fair
• 53% Service Reduction by 2014
• Current sales tax

For more details visit an informational Open House at the following location:

Parkland / Spanaway
Tuesday, October 16th 6:30-8:00pm
Parkland/Spanaway Library,
13718 Pacific Ave. S., Tacoma
Hosted by: PT Commissioner Rick Talbert
Served by Route 1

First Choice Employee Assistance Program

First Choice Health

First Choice Health provides PLU employee families with an enhanced EAP menu of services that includes state-of-the-art and noteworthy features. People use EAP services to solve a wide range of concerns and problems including marital and family issues, depression & anxiety, problems with substance abuse and gambling, and balancing the demands of work and home, including legal issues, financial concerns, personal/family mediation, and eldercare services.

The EAP provides 1 to 3 face-to-face visits with a counselor who is skilled in assessing your concerns – always at no cost.  Simply call the EAP at 800-777-4114 and a courteous Customer Service Representative will assist you. For your convenience, you can also request an appointment online at All services provided by the EAP are confidential.

First Choice EAP also offers PLU employee families the following Enhanced Work/Life Services: 

You will be connected with an eldercare specialist who can assist in arranging care for your older parent regardless of their location in the United States.
You can talk with an attorney, ask questions, and receive answers to your questions. Should you decide to take additional action, you will receive a 25% discount off the attorney’s standard hourly fees.
You will be given referrals to financial specialists who can assist with debt management issues, provide credit card education/consultation and budgeting advice.
Cost-free mediation in response to parenting plans, child support or child-custody agreements and other civil matters.
Identity Theft Specialists can help you regain your personal identity should it be stolen.  Fraud Resolution counseling, legal consultation, or assistance with notification to creditors provided. 
At the Work/Life Resources button be prepared enter the username: pacific and the password: lutheran for immediate access. You can search a vast electronic library of information, tools and resources such as legal and financial information and forms, parenting solutions, discussion about family matters, daycare information, eldercare resources and much, much more.  In addition, if you are interested in accessing a variety of trainings related to sexual harassment, workplace violence prevention or conflict resolution training, go to the education & training box on our website and enter the same username and password as above.

To read more on this topic or access the wide range of confidential services offered by First Choice Employee Assistance Program (EAP) visit the PLU EAP website, call 800-777-4114, or email
PLU Employees Who Travel
Assist America® Mobile App Now Available on Google Play and in the Apple App Store

As part of PLU’s Travel Accident Plan, employees who travel on PLU business now have an additional resource.  The Assist America Mobile applications for Android and iPhone provide members with a one-touch connection to their Operations Center. Members can place an emergency phone call just by tapping a button, as well as view Assist Alerts, use the U.S. embassy locator (available for iPhone only) or view Pre-Trip Information. The U.S. embassy locator, available for the iPhone, utilizes Google Maps to allow users to search for the U.S. embassy nearest to their location, anywhere in the world, using their mobile device’s GPS. Assist America has also released a SecurAssist Mobile application that allows members to view Intelligence updates, learn more about SecurAssist as well as contact us to inquire about services. It is available on Google Play and in the Apple App Store.  For more information, click here or contact

Tuition Benefits

Attention: Parents of High School Seniors

A reminder to all faculty and staff who have dependent children who are seniors in high school this year and are considering the Tuition Exchange or ELCA programs for 2013-2014; it is not too early to apply.  In fact, we encourage you to make application this fall as many of the schools have 2013-2014 deadlines before December.  Remember, these programs are highly competitive and this is not a guaranteed benefit.

For more information on the Tuition Exchange program, visit the website at  If you are interested in applying for either program, you need to complete an application.  Please call Gretchen Howell in Human Resources at ext. 7329 to help you through the process, answer questions, or to request a list of participating ELCA schools.

Lock Down Drill Skills
The survival skills we practice during a lock down drill on campus are useful in malls, sporting events, restaurants, and other public venues. To learn more survival strategies for an active shooter incident, please view Run. Hide. Fight. produced by the City of Houston. This is a short 6 minute video describing good tactics and the proper mindset should you find yourself caught in the middle of an active shooter incident.

Smoking Cessation

If you are interested in smoking cessation classes, please email for more information.

Group Health Expands Benefits for Members Who Live Outside of Puget Sound Area

PLU employees and/or their dependents who live outside the immediate Group Health service area may have services covered at the in-network benefit level if they’re seeing a First Choice or Beech Street provider. When a member sees a First Choice or Beech Street provider and the provider follows the same in-network protocols of obtaining approved referrals and/or prior authorizations for specialty care when referring to another First Choice or Beech Street provider, these medically necessary services will be covered at the in-network level.  If a referral or prior authorization is not obtained, the services will be covered at the out of network level.  Confused?  Have questions? Click here or give Customer Service a call at 888-901-4636.

Commute Smart and Win!
Try an alternative to driving alone in the month of October, and you could find yourself basking in Basque!
Keep it local and bike to work. Join a carpool or vanpool. Take a bus or the Sounder train to work; just find something that involves more than just you and your car. You could win the trip to Basque! Do it six or more times during October (remember to enter the trips online at and you’ll be entered in the drawing for an all-inclusive trip to Basque. Yes, it’s that easy. Who knows? The person you share your commute with may end up being the person you take to Basque. It is a trip for two, after all.

No matter which option you try, make sure you participate! Contact Human Resources at ext. 7185 or with questions.

Administrative Staff Council

The ASC was established in February 1992, and is represented by administrative and staff (non-faculty) employees from Admissions, Campus Safety, Conferences & Events, Congregation Relations, Development & University Relations, Digital Media Center, Dining & Culinary Services, Facilities Management, Finance and Operations, Library Technical Services, Academic Departments/Divisions (Provost), and Student Involvement & Leadership.

The purpose of the ASC is to serve as a communication link between all levels of non-faculty employees and other members of the university and community including students, faculty and administrative leaders. The council provides a forum for non-faculty to raise and discuss areas of interest, and to make recommendations regarding such issues.

In addition, the ASC assists in coordinating such events as “Stuff the Bus,” Fall Open House, Veterans’ Day Ceremony, Christmas Luncheon and Spring Social.  Committee members are involved in various university-wide committees to include:  Budget, Retirement, Long Range Planning, Parking and Parking Appeals.  Your ASC representative is listed below.  Please feel free to contact us.  We are here to support and listen to you!

Council Members
Admission & Enrollment Services
Bjorn Myhre
Development & University Relations
Eileen Kemink & Kim Kennedy-Tucker
Dining Services
JJ Stolz
Facilities Management
Mary Roberts
Finance & Operations
Drew Eli & Kelley Kohlwes
Information Technology
Alexandra Lampert
Darren Struthers & Jody Horn
Student Life
Amber Baillon & Jennifer Thompson
New Faculty Welcome

New Faculty Fall 2012

A warm welcome to all new faculty who joined us this fall!

Zipcar: A Better Way For Your Department to Get Around

Next time you need a vehicle for university business, consider reserving a Zipcar!

Zipcar provides a better way for your department to get around – car sharing. It’s like having access to a company car, but smarter. Become a Zipcar member and you will have easy access to cars by the hour, day or overnight. It costs as little as $8 per hour and $66 per day and there are 2 fuel-efficient cars parked in PLU's Library lot to choose from.

Need to pick up supplies, go for a team lunch, attend an off-site meeting or conference, or meet a colleague? Grab a Zipcar. Now you can carpool or bike to work and still have a car when you need one during the workday. Sharing cars reduces carbon emissions, eliminates the hassles of expense reports and parking, and saves money. Gas and insurance are included, so please take advantage.

Sign up for free today and you can start using Zipcar for all your department-related driving. Visit and follow the link to “I’d like to open a new account for my department.”


For more information or to join PLU’s Zipcar network, visit or call Gretchen Howell at ext. 7329.

Emergency Response Volunteers Needed

PLU is recruiting employee volunteers who are interested in responding in the following capacities should a disaster strike the university, such as a catastrophic earthquake: Amateur Radio Operators, Disaster Search and Rescuers, Disaster Building Assessment Team members.

In addition, Emergency Programs is looking to build a roster of employees interested in helping to carry out campus exercises as an observer or evaluator.

If you are interested in volunteering in any of these capacities, contact Jennifer Wamboldt for more information at ext. 6042.

Preventing Workplace Injuries

By: Joe Bell, Environmental Health and Safety Manager

Can you guess which two types of injuries are the leading causes for lost work days and restricted duty days?   If you thought of slip/trip/falls and sprain/strains your intuition would be right on the mark!

Slips, trips and falls can result in all types of serious injuries and sometimes leave the injured employee with a lifelong disability. This is why slip, trip and fall awareness and protection are essential elements of personal safety. Slips, trips and falls can happen almost anywhere and can be caused by a number of things. Slips occur when there is too little friction between one’s footwear and the walking surface. Common causes of slips are: wet or oily surfaces; weather hazards; loose or unanchored rugs; and/or flooring with changing degree of traction. Trips occur when one’s foot collides with an object causing a loss in balance. Common causes of trips are: obstructed view; poor lighting; poor housekeeping; wrinkled carpet; cords across walkways; or uneven walking surfaces. Falls occur when one loses balance resulting in a drop to the ground from the effects of gravity. Common causes of falls are: improper use of equipment; horseplay; unfamiliar with work area; overreaching; or skipping steps.

If you see something, say something! If not you, then who? If not now, then when? The best way to avoid an incident is to survey the work area and address all potential concerns prior to beginning work. Avoidance leads to injury!

If you have any questions regarding safety concerns, speak with your supervisor, a Safety Committee Representative, or call the EHS Manager at ext. 7233.


Orca image

PLU offers regional transit passes to benefits eligible employees. Faculty and staff receive their ORCA card preloaded with an annual pass good from June through May. The majority of the pass’ cost is covered by PLU, but a small fee is charged to employees. The cost of this benefit to employees is only $20.70 for the fiscal year. Bring your valid PLU ID to the Concierge Desk in the University Center to purchase an ORCA card.

To renew your ORCA card for fiscal year 2012-2013 (June-May), you’ll need to visit the Concierge Desk to fill out a renewal form and pay the employee portion of the benefit. You will not receive a new ORCA card. A valid PLU ID and ORCA card are required at the time of renewal. Please make it clear to the Concierge Desk staff that you are renewing your ORCA card.

Visit Commute Smart for more information. Contact Gretchen at ext. 7185 with questions.

Did You Know?
You already know that the deductibles on PLU medical plans are calculated on a calendar year basis, right?  However, do you know there is a 3-month carryover on individual (not family) deductible expenses, which means claims incurred in October, November and December that are applied to your 2012 deductible will also be applied to your 2013 deductible?  This carryover occurs regardless of whether you meet your calendar year individual deductible or not.
Group Health

Empowering Informed Decisions

What happens if there are multiple treatment options for a condition, each with pros and cons? At Group Health they support shared decision making. By providing detailed information to patients about their options, they can have informed conversations with their physicians, better understand treatment alternatives, and make choices that align with their personal values and are right for them.

  • Group Health offers decision aids for 12 preference-sensitive conditions.  These conditions include hip and knee osteoarthritis, prostate cancer, fibroids/uterine bleeding, and herniated disk.
  • When decision aids are used, the choices patients make are more conservative, leading to a 25 percent decrease in rates of surgery for preference-sensitive surgical conditions.
  • Patients who receive decision-making support have a better understanding of their condition, are more active participants in their care, are less conflicted about their treatment decision, and express more satisfaction with their decision.
  • In a patient survey of decision-aid users, 98% rated the aids as good, very good, or excellent.
  • Group Health’s shared decision-making program distributed more than 18,000 decision-aid DVDs and booklets to Group Health members by August 2011.