SEATTLE, Dec. 1, 2005 – The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) recently authorized Swedish Health Services to establish a new liver-transplant program.
In order to open its program, Swedish was required to obtain a certificate of need (CON) from the DOH. In 2003, Swedish submitted a CON application to the DOH.
Swedish obtained a CON from the DOH in 2004 following a lengthy review process that included public comments and a public hearing. The CON was contested by the University of Washington Medical Center (UWMC), which currently has the only adult liver-transplant program in Washington state. In response to UWMC's appeal, an administrative law judge issued a 26-page decision that affirmed the DOH's initial decision authorizing Swedish to establish a new liver-transplant program.
The appeal hearing – held in January and February 2005 – included testimony from 14 witnesses and required the review of more than 1,500 pages of documents relating to Swedish's proposed liver-transplant program.
In her ruling, Health Law Judge Zimmie Caner ultimately concluded that a second liver-transplant program "is needed for patient choice/competition that will promote innovation and discourage complacency, resulting in the treatment of a higher percentage of sicker patients and better use of donor organs. The Swedish program would provide this needed choice/competition." Judge Caner also concluded that opening a program at Swedish "will not adversely affect" UWMC's liver-transplant program.
"We are pleased with the findings of the DOH and Judge Caner," said William H. Marks, M.D., Ph.D., director of Swedish's Organ Transplant Program. "We can now continue on with our mission, which is to provide the people of Washington state and the Pacific Northwest with the absolute best in transplant services."
Swedish Medical Center is the largest, most comprehensive, nonprofit health provider in the Pacific Northwest. Founded in 1910, it now has more than 7,000 employees and a medical staff of more than 2,000 physicians, most of which are private practitioners. Swedish now encompasses three hospital campuses (First Hill, Providence and Ballard) totaling 1,245 licensed beds, a new community-based emergency room and specialty center in Issaquah, Swedish Home Care Services and Swedish Physicians – a network of 12 primary-care clinics located throughout the Greater Seattle area. In addition to general medical and surgical care, Swedish is known as a regional referral center, providing specialized treatment in areas such as cardiovascular care, cancer care, orthopedics, high-risk obstetrics, neurological care, sleep medicine, pediatrics, organ transplantation and clinical research. For more information, visit www.swedish.org or call 1-800-SWEDISH (793-3474).