Washington’s workers’ compensation system spends about $500 million annually on medical care for injured workers. Making sure that money is spent on effective, high quality health care is a top priority at the Department of Labor and Industries (L&I). To ensure best practices are followed in the delivery of occupational health care to injured workers, L&I has participated in a number of projects to test various healthcare delivery systems.
Building on those experiences, L&I worked in collaboration with business and labor organizations, community health care leaders and a University of Washington (UW) research team to develop a community-based approach to health care that has been implemented through Centers of Occupational Health and Education (COHE).
In 1999, leaders from businesses and labor unions in Spokane approached St. Luke's Rehabilitation Institute of Inland Northwest Health Services , expressing their desire to find a sponsor for a potential COHE pilot project benefiting workers, employers and health care providers. St. Luke's made a commitment to meet that community need by dedicating expertise and resources for the advancement of health-related best practices into our 'communities of healthcare'.
- 2003 - The "Spokane COHE" was established, serving Spokane, Grant, and Stevens Counties.
- 2005 - With the success of the pilot and the expansion into 13 additional counties, Spokane COHE changed its name to Eastern Washington COHE.
- 2011 - State Legislature approved SSB 5801 calling for a state wide expansion of the COHE program by the end of 2015.
- 2013 - Eastern Washington COHE expands its service area to 19 counties including Benton, Franklin, and Kittitas Counties.
- 2014 - Eastern Washington COHE becomes COHE Community of Eastern Washington & expands to include the Surgical Best Practices Pilot.
- 2016 - COHE Community of Eastern Washington expands its service area to 20 counties including Klickitat County.