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'community partnership' posts

July is Global Health Month

Swedish, Washington Global Health Alliance and the Seattle Center’s Next Fifty (celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the Seattle World’s Fair) are part of the solution in combating global health issues globally and locally with the Global Health Nexus - Global Health Month. Global Health Month will feature our region’s strengths in combating malaria, diabetes and cancer, and in improving mother and child health and access to safe water.  

Here are some events where you can participate in Global Health Month:

  • The Global Health Experience Exhibit, July 3 - August 19, Seattle Center, Next Fifty Plaza
  • "Groundswell: A night for global health" a public event featuring Melinda Gates, Saturday, July 14 at McCaw Hall, Seattle Center
  • AGENCY (formally Party with a Purpose), Saturday July 14th at McCaw Hall, Seattle Center
  • "Be the Change Student Competition" winners honored, Saturday, July 14th at McCaw Hall, Seattle Center
  • "Perspectives: How faith-based and secular health organizations partner for better global health", Sunday July 15th at McCaw Hall, Seattle Center

Be part of the global health solution. Many of the exhibits and events have a call to action where you can take action in a variety of innovative ways. If you'd like to learn more about how Swedish is applying global solutions to local healthcare challenges in underserved populations, click here. 

Swedish's Perspective on the SCOTUS Ruling of the Affordable Care Act

As you have likely heard by now, the Supreme Court this morning issued a landmark decision that will allow implementation of the new health-care law to move forward.

Swedish aligned with the Washington State Hospital Association in support of the passage of the Affordable Care Act because it provides for better access to care for more individuals throughout the country. We recognize there are many supporting and opposing voices around this topic, and while not a perfect piece of legislation, the law will provide coverage for 30 million people who otherwise have no access to insurance by 2014.

While the Court’s decision brings additional clarity to national health reform, our commitment to improving health care regionally remains the same. For the past six years, Swedish has worked diligently to improve quality, reduce costs and increase access to health care, and we are fully committed to continuing down this path. We also remain committed to serving all those in need. Last year alone, Swedish provided $146 million in community-benefit activities.

Here is a summary of the ruling on the Affordable Care Act:

The Supreme Court ruled this morning on the constitutionality of President Obama’s health care law, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PL 111-148). The Court ruled 5-4 that the Affordable Care Act, including its individual mandate that virtually all Americans buy health insurance, is constitutional. While the Court did not find that the law was constitutional under the Commerce Clause, as argued by lawyers representing the federal government, five Justices agreed that the penalty that someone must pay if they refuse to buy insurance is a tax and that Congress has the authority to impose such a tax.

According to the SCOTUS Blog: “Because the individual mandate survived, the Court did not need to decide what other parts of the statute were constitutional, except for a provision that required states to comply with new eligibility requirements for Medicaid or risk losing their funding. On that question, the Court held that the provision is constitutional as long as states would only lose new funds if they didn't comply with the new requirements, rather than all of their funding.”

The court’s ruling gave President Obama a victory of sorts on a law whose most controversial provision — the individual mandate — is not set to take effect until 2014. Some popular provisions, such as family coverage for children up to age 26, have already taken effect. Congress gave the bill final approval in March 2010 on the strength of a Democratic majority in both the House and the Senate; Republicans gained control of the House in November 2010 in part by capitalizing on opposition to the mandate and vowing to try to repeal the law in its entirety.

Below is a synopsis of some of the key provisions that remain law after today’s court decision...

Creating Healthy Communities

On Saturday, March 10th, Sallie Neillie and I will be presenting a workshop at Guiding Lights. Here is a synopsis:

Creating Healthy Communities: a Story of Corporate Citizenship

This workshop is a great primer for anyone interested in how good corporate citizenship contributes to the vibrancy of communities. In response to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Swedish Medical Center developed a Community Needs Assessment that became the cornerstone of a clinic providing specialty care for the uninsured in King County. Through partnerships with non-profits and foundations, over 300 Physicians and Dentists are now providing no-cost care for the underserved at this clinic. In this workshop, you will learn how to develop your own Community Needs Assessment, and discuss how to create a vibrant, evolving network of partner organizations to meet a need in your community.

Swedish introduces new specialty dental clinic

(Ed. note: A version of this will appear in the Spring/Summer issue of Impact.)

Access to specialty dental care for the uninsured and underinsured in our community took a significant step forward with the recent opening of the Swedish Community Specialty Clinic dental program, the first of its kind in the Puget Sound area.

Oral health services have become less available to low-income individuals since the state funding of adult Medicaid dental programs was cut in January, 2011. The funding cuts have also affected dental-care access for developmentally disabled and elderly populations. These reductions have led to an increase in hospital visits, as severe dental pain is among the top five reasons underserved patients utilize the emergency room.

In response to this critical need, Swedish began brainstorming new ways to address the gap in care offerings. In September, 2010, Swedish opened the innovative Swedish Community Specialty Clinic (SCSC) as part of its more than 100 year commitment to providing excellent medical care to all in need, regardless of their ability to pay. The SCSC is designed to treat low-income uninsured or underinsured patients with services including orthopedics, dermatology, cardiology, gynecology, neurology, occupational therapy, podiatry and many others. Adding a dental program was a natural next step for the SCSC. In collaboration with Seattle Special Care Dentistry and Project Access Northwest, Swedish embarked on a plan to install three new procedure areas, fully equipped for specialty-care services, within the SCSC.

At the January 17 ribbon cutting. From left to right: Amy Winston, DDS, Bart Johnson DDS - both from Seattle Specialty Dental Program. Jerry Retsema- Burkhart Dental Supply. Princy Rekha, DDS – Seattle King County Dental Society & Foundation. Dan Dixon – Vice President, External Affairs at Swedish. 

The dental clinic is designed as a referral-based service for patients who are at or below 200 percent of poverty level. Patients are referred to the clinic through Project Access Northwest. Swedish estimates some 30 volunteer dental professionals will see up to 450 patients in the first year of the clinic’s operation. As many as 45 volunteer dentists and oral surgeons will treat an estimated 2,000 patients in its second year. The initial focus of the clinic is difficult tooth extractions with plans to include endodontic and periodontal services in the future.

State budget crisis may hurt community clinics that serve the poor and uninsured

Swedish was proud to host several community clinics and their patients this week at a vigil on our First Hill campus. The goal was to urge lawmakers, who are currently in Olympia and facing difficult decisions about the state’s budget crisis, to protect funding for community health clinics dedicated to serving uninsured and low-income individuals.

Individuals gather in support of community health clinics

More than 200 individuals gathered at the vigil.

Local clinics – such as Country Doctor, Health Point, International Community Health Services, Sea Mar, Seattle Indian Health Board and Neighbor Care – play a vital role in the health care safety net of our community.

And they are some of Swedish’s most important partners. Together, we work to provide access to health care for those in need regardless of income or insurance status.

In this economy, however, that has not been easy. We have seen a surge in uninsured and low-income patient populations. Swedish provided $112 million in charity care, Medicaid subsidies and other community benefits in 2010, double the amount from the previous year.

Dr-Perez-CHC-event.jpg
Dr. Julian Perez speaks at the vigil.


Meeting the needs of underserved populations is something no single organization can do alone. It requires partnership and collaboration. 

Our work with the community health clinics is an excellent example of that. The community clinics play an important role by providing front-line primary care in local community. Swedish supports their work by making our hospitals, diagnostic services, specialists and ERs accessible to their patients and providers.

While we understand the budget realities facing our state, we encourage you to learn more about this critical issue and we urge our lawmakers to seek creative solutions to these difficult problems.

Swedish and Providence Join Forces to Improve Health Care

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

Global to Local: Impacting the SeaTac and Tukwila Communities

Continuing Swedish’s long-standing commitment to improve the health and well-being of our region, Swedish has partnered with Washington Global Health Alliance, Public Health of Seattle & King County, and HealthPoint to address disparities in local healthcare through a groundbreaking initiative: Global to Local.

The Global to Local initiative is a new approach in applying global solutions to local healthcare challenges in underserved populations. The partnership reached out to SeaTac and Tukwila, which are just 15 miles south of Seattle and are both strong, vibrant communities with a long history of activism and community pride. However, with the settlement of new immigrants and refugees there have been many challenged for access to healthcare. Currently there are over 70 languages spoken in SeaTac and Tukwila schools and households. Many families have never seen a primary care doctor or do not know how to navigate through the healthcare system. These challenges have increased the need for additional services to address the basic needs of the community.

What will Global to Local do?

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