After Three Years of Operating Losses, Swedish Visiting Nurse Services to Close

After Three Years of Operating Losses, Swedish Visiting Nurse Services to Close

SEATTLE, Feb. 16, 2012 – Today, officials from Swedish Visiting Nurse Services (SVNS) announced plans to close its services effective April 27, 2012. SVNS is a division of Swedish that provides in-home medical services, such as in-home nursing, physical and occupational therapy, infusion therapy, nutritional therapy, and hospice.

Having experienced significant operating losses for three years in a row, SVNS implemented a turnaround plan last June. While that effort resulted in several operational improvements, it was unable to address the underlying problems with the SVNS business model: a high wage and benefits structure, productivity issues and overtime costs combined with low reimbursement from commercial payers. SVNS was projected to lose $12 million in 2012, which would put its total loss since 2009 at $51 million.

“Knowing there are other local agencies available to effectively meet the need for home-health and hospice services in the community, we concluded that the magnitude of losses is unsustainable over the long term and that the only option was to close the service,” said Jon Younger, M.D., medical director for SVNS. “Our priority now is to work with other local agencies to ensure a seamless transition for our patients.”

Currently, SVNS has a census of about 300 home-health patients, about 125 hospice patients and 80 home-infusion patients.

SVNS will stop accepting new patients effective immediately but will work to discharge or transfer home-care patients within the next 30 days and hospice patients within the next 60 days.

Swedish is committed to continuing to make sure all Swedish patients in need of home care, home infusion and hospice services are aware of all their options in the community. “We will leave the decision of choosing which agency is right for them up to individual patients and their families,” said Dr. Younger. “In other words, we will not direct patients to one agency over another. We will work to place our patients with the agency of their choice.”

SVNS employs about 220 individuals. Swedish is working closely with affected employees to redeploy them where possible to other positions within Swedish, which includes five hospitals, two ambulatory care centers and more than 100 clinics. In addition, Swedish will facilitate connecting them to opportunities elsewhere in the community. For example, Swedish will soon host a job fair and invite all other home-health and hospice agencies, so they can promote their current job openings to SVNS employees.

“Having been involved with home health and hospice at Swedish for a good portion of my career, this has been a very sad and painful decision to participate in. But I believe it is the right thing to do, and I know patients will be well cared for by our colleagues in the community,” said Dr. Younger. “Working with the team in SVNS has been a true highlight of my career as they have touched countless lives over the years.”

About Swedish

Swedish has grown over the last 102 years to become the largest non-profit health provider in the Greater Seattle area with 11,000 employees, more than 2,800 physicians and 1,700 volunteers. It is comprised of five hospital campuses (First Hill, Cherry Hill, Ballard, Edmonds and Issaquah); ambulatory care centers in Redmond and Mill Creek; and Swedish Medical Group – a network of more than 100 primary-care and specialty clinics located throughout the Greater Puget Sound area. In addition to general medical and surgical care including robotic-assisted surgery, Swedish is known as a regional referral center, providing specialized treatment in areas such as cardiovascular care, cancer care, neuroscience, orthopedics, high-risk obstetrics, pediatric specialties, organ transplantation and clinical research. For more information, visit www.swedish.org, www.swedishcares.org, www.facebook.com/swedishmedicalcenter or www.twitter.com/swedish.  

Swedish is affiliated with Providence Health & Services, which is a Catholic, not-for-profit organization founded by the Sisters of Providence in 1856 with 27 hospitals, 214 physician clinics and almost 53,000 employees across five states. Based in Renton, Wash., Providence Health & Services provides strategic and management services to integrated health-care systems in Alaska, California, Montana, Oregon and Washington state. For more information, visit www.providence.org.

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Media Coverage

  • To read a related article posted Feb. 16, 2012 on The Seattle Times Web site, click here.
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