Swedish and Providence Join Forces to Improve Health Care

October 6, 2011 Rod Hochman, MD

These are some of the most challenging times in our country’s history for both health care and the economy. As Greater Seattle’s largest nonprofit provider, we believe it is Swedish’s responsibility to lead the region through these difficult times and serve the community no matter what the circumstances. Today, I am very proud to announce that Swedish is leading the way in partnership with Providence Health & Services. Both of our boards recently approved an innovative plan to join forces and form a new integrated health system to serve Western Washington.

There are still many details to be worked out, and the affiliation is pending regulatory review. But when finalized, our new system will dramatically improve health care for the region and serve as a local solution to the nation’s health-care crisis.

What makes our affiliation so innovative is that it is not a merger or acquisition. Rather, it is a unique structure that will allow us to work together to coordinate care for the region while respecting our individual identities and heritage.

In other words, Swedish will still be Swedish. We are keeping our name and will not become a Catholic organization. Likewise, Providence will still be Providence. They will keep their name and maintain their Catholic identity.

What will change, however, is that we will closely collaborate to coordinate care seamlessly for patients from Centralia to Seattle to Everett by:

  • Harnessing the power of electronic health records to better serve patients and improve clinical outcomes
  • Using our collective data to drive rapid quality and safety improvements
  • Sharing resources to assure underserved communities have access to the continuum of care, including subspecialized care and innovative research
  • Working together to implement best practices and gain operating efficiencies so that we can reduce costs and make health care more affordable for government payers, commercial insurers and employers.

A partner with a shared mission

Knowing that greater collaboration is the future of health care, Swedish has been seeking the right partner for a few years. We evaluated many different options, from local independent providers to major out-of-state systems. But at the end of the day, there was only one partner that made sense.

Like us, Providence is a mission-driven organization. Together, Swedish and Providence already provide a staggering $205 million per year in uncompensated care and other community-benefit activities for Western Washington. Imagine how much more we can do – and how many more lives we can improve – by working together.

Providence owns and operates health-care facilities across five states, and we believe our patients can benefit from the expertise and resources that come from being connected to a larger network. Another important factor is that Providence has been serving Western Washington for 155 years and is headquartered in Renton. We see the value in partnering with another long-time Washington organization and understand the important role that plays in supporting the local economy.

The role of philanthropy: Swedish will maintain a separate Foundation

Philanthropy has, and will continue to be vital to the missions of both organizations. Through this innovative affiliation, Providence and Swedish will maintain their individual foundations, and they will continue operate separately. That means gifts made to the Swedish Foundation will only go to Swedish, and gifts made to the Providence foundations will only go to Providence.

Some things will change, but the best things about Swedish will stay the same

Even with all the positive change on the horizon, what excites me most about this partnership is that the best things about Swedish will stay the same. Thanks to our great staff, physicians, volunteers, and community supporters, Swedish has had a profound impact on the health of Western Washington for 101 years. And that won’t change. In fact, with our new partnership, we will make an even bigger difference for many more years to come. 

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