Hospital builds a reputation in Issaquah
February 21, 2014
By David Hayes
Reputation. The success of any institution or business relies heavily upon its ability to solidify its reputation within the community. Sell the best widget or provide the best service and the reputation will follow. Somewhere within the halls of the Swedish/Issaquah is a wall that is filling fast with the awards and accolades earned from its growing reputation as one of the best patient care facilities in the nation.
When the facility officially opened after the completion of Phase 1 on Nov. 1, 2011, it didn’t take long before its emergency room received a 2012 Summit Award for patient satisfaction.
Then, in December 2013, Swedish/Issaquah was named one of The Leapfrog Group’s Top Hospitals in the nation, providing the highest quality of patient care in a survey of more than 1,300 hospitals.
Karen Morgan is one of those patients impressed by her treatment at Swedish/Issaquah. Diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer in early 2013, the 51-year-old Maple Valley resident had already gone through a full round of chemotherapy at a Swedish campus in Seattle when her oncologist presented her with an opportunity she couldn’t pass up — be the first patient in the United States to receive targeted radiation treatment with the new Elekta Automated Beam Gate therapy at its Issaquah campus.
The new device rotates around a stationary patient, delivering a more targeted beam of radiation, significantly reducing the exposure to nearby organs, like the heart and lungs.
“I was pretty shocked and impressed that they’d have that kind of equipment,” Morgan said. “It’s the most newfangled thing ever. I feel a whole lot more confident in my treatments, long term, and less afraid of any side affects.”
What made Morgan’s stay at Swedish/Issaquah most memorable was the staff.
“The gals in the radiation center really go out of their way, to listen to you, to hold your hand while you’re crying your eyes out,” Morgan said. “You’re not just another box for them to check off a list.”
Swedish patients’ access to the latest in technology is nothing new to Issaquah. The center also features a daVinci Surgical System that uses robotic assisted arms to perform precision surgery on complex operations such as for lung cancer, colorectal cancer and others.
Many patients have also benefitted from Issaquah’s MAKOplasty Partial Knee Resurfacing technology. Now, rather than having a surgically implanted artificial knee, MAKOplasty gets the job done with just a precision, partial replacement with minimal invasiveness.
Chuck Salmon, chief executive of Swedish/Issaquah (who recently retired and was replaced by Dr. Rayburn Lewis), said it was their goal to draw the best physicians to their new facility, be it from existing Swedish centers, or other facilities, especially those looking for a stepping-stone for opening a practice in east King County.
Dr. Jennifer Jaucian, an OB-GYN specialist, was attracted to the idea of working at, and growing with, a new facility. She transferred to Issaquah from Swedish’s First Hill facility.
“It was a great opportunity to start up a new hospital while still working under the Swedish umbrella,” Jaucian said.
Swedish officials knew they were filling a big demand by offering their services on the Eastside along the Interstate 90 corridor. One of the busiest departments since opening has been Jaucian’s. In 2012, Swedish expanded its pregnancy and childbirth services by opening a Level II nursery in Issaquah. The babies followed — 973 were born in Swedish/Issaquah in 2012 and another 1,149 in 2013. Jaucian said the need at the Swedish/Issaquah campus grew more quickly than expected. But they were able to keep up with the delivery department’s growing reputation.
“With the Level II ICU, we’re able to take care of higher-risk deliveries without the patient having to travel so far to Seattle for care,” Jaucian said.
The hospital started with the 21 services they needed most in Phase 1, from allergy specialists to vascular surgery. They added another five specialties in Phase 2, including a pediatric inpatient unit and intensive care unit. Salmon said most recently two additional specialists have been added in endocrinology bariatrics.
The next goal was to ensure the best care possible within each specialty.
Swedish/Issaquah has regularly received 95 percent or higher satisfaction in patient surveys. However, Salmon shared a story that best illustrated its reputation among patients.
“We had a patient whose doctor told him to get to the emergency department. The patient interpreted that as getting the best care at the Swedish/Issaquah ER,” Salmon said. “But it turns out, he was on vacation at the time in Hawaii. He literally caught a plane back to the states to receive care here.”
In addition to offering the best in technological advances in patient care, Salmon said Swedish took a bit of a risk, making the hospital’s interior a conscious design element that is a fairly new concept in health care.
“It’s almost a destination element making it more attractive,” Salmon said. “We want the public to think of the hospital as other than a place to get cured.”
Walk into the lobby of Swedish and visitors are greeted with a vast open space with a comfortable waiting area, retail stores and an upscale dining facility.
Morgan couldn’t help but be impressed during her visits.
“It knocked me out. It was like no other hospital I’ve been to,” she said.
Salmon said the facility has become a destination for local groups to meet, such as Stroller Strides, whose members perform exercises built around their baby carriages.
To keep up with the growing demand, Salmon said plans are to go from 80 patient beds to 120 during a second phase of expansion and eventually make another 55 beds available by 2018. Plans also exist to expand on a 10-acre parcel adjacent to the current facility and open the additional space by 2016.
As Swedish/Issaquah’s expanding facilities grow, its reputation grows with it. Morgan said her mother and sister visited during her treatments at both the Seattle and Issaquah center, with the most lasting impression left here. She added her own recommendation is easy to make.
“If, God forbid, a family member falls ill, take them to Swedish/Issaquah,” she said.