Rishi Mistry, ARNP
The trustees of the Washington Chapter of the AAP extend their sincere thanks to Rishi Mistry, ARNP, for his dedication and service not only to WCAAP, but also to the children of central Washington, and all who care for them. Rishi is moving to Tucson, Arizona, with his partner, Wyatt, and as such will be stepping down from his role as the first advanced practice provider representative on the WCAAP board.
Rishi grew up in Tennessee and completed his education there, moving to Yakima to take his “first” job. Although this was Rishi’s first clinical position, he quickly endeared himself to his coworkers, his patients, and their families. He was well loved and respected not only for his clinical acumen, but for his ability to distill from every patient interaction what was most important to the patient and family, and to deliver care in a way that honored those priorities. (N.B., as a pediatric urologist who often sees patients referred by Rishi in my practice, I can say that more than a few patients have actually cried in my office at the thought of him leaving.)
Rishi’s administrative skills are also nonpareil. He was the first medical director of Yakima Pediatrics who was not a physician, and guided the practice towards continued patient center care, evidence-based medicine, and navigation through a pandemic. As always, his calm and insightful demeanor set the stage.
When it came time for WCAAP to create the APP position on the board, Rishi was the obvious choice. Then-WCAAP president Elizabeth Meade remembers the impression he made as an advocate: “I first met Rishi at the AAP legislative conference in DC where he was one of only a few attendees from Washington State, and he was incredibly passionate about policy and legislative endeavors for kids and families.” His clinical acumen, his patient-centered focus, and his administrative skills made him a natural fit. His passion to proactively identify opportunities for improvement—and to act on those opportunities—was an added benefit. In this role, he has identified ways that our chapter can increase diversity and promote equity for the children of Central and Eastern Washington, and across the state, by engaging providers with diverse backgrounds.
We sincerely wish Rishi well in his future endeavors and thank him for laying the groundwork for his successors. We will miss you.
Kathleen Kieran, MD, FAAP
Trustee Washington Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics
Bob Hilt, MD, FAAP & Thatcher Felt, DO, FAAP
Dr. Bob Hilt is synonymous with children’s mental health in the legislature. His calm, matter of fact nature belies this passionate, highly-accomplished pediatrician and child psychiatrist who is extremely well renowned in his field, co-authoring the DSM-5 Pocket Guide for Child and Adolescent Mental Health andcreating creative ways to expand mental health access for children. His advocacy on the need for child and maternal mental health supports has lead directly to the keen awareness many of us in the legislature have about the crisis of children’s mental health and impactful ways to make a dent in the need. Knowing the limitations in accessing child psychiatrists and other related professionals, Dr. Hilt created the Partnership Access Line, or “PAL line,” to make meaningful, scalable solutions that support pediatricians, ARNPs and family physicians who serve kids and their families daily. His ongoing advocacy and collaboration have also resulted in direct state funding for and a myriad of off-shoots of the PALS line. Bob also created ways to expedite trainings in depression screening and other diagnostics to help expand the professionals who can help kids as children’s mental health has become a pandemic of its own. On a personal note, Bob has been an incredible resource as we have each chaired the Children and Youth Behavioral Health Workgroup over the past six years, always answering the phone, tracking down facts and figures and keeping the real lives of youth and families at the core of everything we do.
I first met Dr. Thatcher Felt when he testified before the Children, Youth and Families Committee about six years ago. Sharing that more than 50% of office visits with young patients was focused on mental health was an eye-opener to the deep mental health needs of our youth and the struggles of pediatric offices. His stories of struggling to pay staff and serve low-income families with the low Medicaid reimbursement rates helped push the legislature to increase the funding. In addition, thanks to his leadership and ingenuity, he transformed behavioral health integration at his own practice and for his entire region. His passion and longevity in working in an underserved community in Yakima has offered a critical voice and perspective that dispels many myths about children’s mental health and helped build understanding and support from state legislators across the state, and across party lines, for addressing children’s mental health.
The old adage that “those who are the busiest are asked to do the most” applies to both of these men. As they worked as pediatricians, they provided critical behavioral health supports for their patients. Even as they lead busy practices, they found time to testify before the legislature on numerous occasions and actively serve on the WCAAP board and the Children’s Mental Health Workgroup. While their cups were already full to the brim, they transformed the practice of children’s mental health in ways that are positively impacting thousands of youth and families each year.
“Thank you” to these two doesn’t seem like enough. But it comes from the bottom of our hearts. ~ Rep. Tana Senn and Rep. Lisa Callan
State Representative – 41st Legislative District
Chair, Children, Youth & Families Committee
State Representative – 5th Legislative District
Chair, Children & Youth Behavioral Health Work Group