No changes for local patients as Providence, Swedish complete affiliation agreement
February 10, 2012
By Warren Kagarise
NEW — 8 a.m. Feb. 10, 2012
The partnership between Providence Health & Services and Swedish Health Services should not affect services at Issaquah health care facilities, officials said as the organizations completed a groundbreaking affiliation agreement.
Through the affiliation, Providence and Swedish plan to operate as the Western Washington Region of Providence Health & Services. The organization encompasses all Swedish operations in King and Snohomish counties, plus Providence operations in King, Snohomish, Thurston and Lewis counties.
The entities operate Providence Marianwood, a 25-year-old nursing home, and Swedish/Issaquah, a 7-month-old hospital, in the city.
“Swedish/Issaquah is a community hospital focused on the community needs here,” Chuck Salmon, chief executive for Swedish/Issaquah and ambulatory care, said days after the Feb. 1 announcement. “At this point, my direction is, ‘Don’t change a thing. You guys are doing fine.’ There should be really no change at all as perceived by the public.”
Providence and Swedish executives announced the planned affiliation in October. Leaders said the relationship should improve health care access, affordability and quality.
“We’re doing this for the benefit of both organizations strategically, but how it plays out specifically at the local level is still a work in progress,” Salmon said.
The connection between Providence Marianwood and Swedish/Issaquah predates the formal affiliation.
“We have had a very sound and, I think, mutually beneficial working relationship with the Providence Marianwood facility here in Issaquah,” Salmon said. “That’s not going to change.”
Swedish/Issaquah Nurse Executive Marilyn Nemerever said the existing relationship between Swedish/Issaquah and Providence Marianwood is similar to the arrangements between the hospital and other local nursing facilities.
“If we have patients who come in from home and are patients in our hospital and they need to be discharged then to someplace and then back to their home, if it’s appropriate we discharge them to Providence Marianwood or other providers,” she said. “We also are a resource for Providence Marianwood, as well as similar providers out there. If they have patients who are becoming acutely ill, they often transfer patients to us. We take care of them as necessary, and then we send them back.”
Swedish/Issaquah opened in July 2011 and started offering in-patient services in November 2011. The 120-bed hospital is licensed for up to 175 beds.
In October 2011, Providence and Swedish executives officials announced the proposed affiliation. The impending alliance raised questions about abortion and physician-assisted suicide at Swedish facilities.
Providence, a Catholic organization, prohibits such procedures, although abortion is allowed if a woman’s life is in danger. Swedish, a secular entity, plans to stop offering elective abortions. Swedish does not participate in physician-assisted suicide.
Officials did not offer or plan to offer elective abortions at Swedish/Issaquah, but physicians intend to provide emergency abortions at the hospital.
Swedish executives said facilities in the health system plan to offer other birth-control services, such as tubal ligations, or sterilizations in women, and vasectomies, or sterilizations in men.
Under pressure from reproductive-rights groups last year, Swedish agreed to underwrite a Planned Parenthood clinic in a medical office building on the Swedish/First Hill campus.
The affiliation prompted other changes in the executive suites at both organizations. Some shifts in leadership accompanied the agreement between Providence and Swedish.
Arnie Schaffer serves as executive vice president, chief executive of the Western Washington Region. The role puts Schaffer in charge of integration activities between Providence and Swedish. Dr. Rod Hochman, Swedish president and CEO, is a group president for the Providence system. Kevin Brown, a Sammamish resident and a key leader in the effort to open the Issaquah hospital, is the chief executive for Swedish Health Services.
“The real work lies ahead,” Dr. John Koster, Providence Health & Services president and CEO, said in a statement. “Together, we’ll ensure we realize the benefit of shared clinical expertise to develop leading care practices to improve the health of the communities we serve.”