Swedish: History, Facts & Figures

Based in Seattle, Swedish is the largest nonprofit health-care provider in the Greater Seattle area. In independent research by National Research Corporation, Swedish is consistently named the area's best hospital, with the best doctors, nurses and care in a variety of specialty areas.

Swedish has three hospital locations in Seattle, a hospital in Edmonds,  a hospital in Issaquah, a freestanding emergency room and specialty center  in Redmond (East King County) and in the Mill Creek area in Everett, and a network of more than 100 specialty-care and primary-care clinics.

Here you can learn more about how it all started back in 1910 and how we take care of our surrounding communities today. 


In 1910, when techniques as basic as sterilization were not widely used in local operating rooms, Dr. Nils Johanson saw a need in the Seattle area for a modern nonprofit medical facility — one that offered the latest treatments of its day and followed the very highest standards in patient care. Dr. Johanson, a surgeon and Swedish immigrant, presented his vision to 10 Swedish-American businessmen. Although none were wealthy, they were all eager to do something positive for the young Seattle community. They each agreed to buy $1,000 bonds, and on June 1, 1910, Dr. Johanson's vision was born as a 24-bed hospital in a renovated apartment building. In the first years of operation, Dr. Johanson and President J.A. Soderberg paid the bills out of their own pockets. It was the beginning of a legacy of humanitarianism and stewardship that would transform the small hospital into the region's largest, most comprehensive, not-for-profit health-care provider. 

Swedish timeline

1878 - Three Sisters of Providence opened Swedish's first hospital — Providence Hospital (now Swedish Cherry Hill). 

1910 - Swedish Hospital (now Swedish First Hill) opened on Belmont Avenue and Olive Street. 

1912 - Swedish Hospital moved to a new facility at Summit and Columbia. 

1928 - Ballard General Hospital opened (now Swedish Ballard). 

1932 - Swedish Hospital opened the Tumor Institute (now Swedish Cancer Institute) — the first dedicated cancer-treatment center west of the Mississippi. 

1954 - Ballard General Hospital (now Swedish Ballard) moved to its current location on Tallman Avenue.

1962 - Voters approved establishment of Snohomish County Hospital District No. 2 and Stevens Memorial Hospital (now Swedish Edmonds).

1964 - Stevens Hospital (now Swedish Edmonds) opened its doors. 

1975 - Swedish Hospital opened the state's first independent day-surgery program. 

1980 - Doctors Hospital and Seattle General Hospital merged with Swedish Hospital. 

1992 - Ballard Community Hospital (now Swedish Ballard) merged with Swedish Medical Center. 

2000 - Swedish Medical Center acquired Providence Seattle Medical Center (now Swedish Cherry Hill) and Providence Medical Group (now Swedish Physicians). 

2005 - Swedish opened new community-based emergency room and specialty center in East King County, called Swedish Issaquah. 

2009 - Swedish Home Care Services became Swedish Visiting Nurse Services and serves patients in a broader region, including Snohomish, Skagit and King Counties.

2010 -  Stevens Hospital in Edmonds became Swedish Medical Center/Edmonds on Sept. 1 through an innovative lease agreement, enhancing access and care for North King and South Snohomish Counties. Swedish opened a new freestanding emergency room and outpatient center in Redmond (East King County).

2011 - Swedish opened a new freestanding emergency room and outpatient center in the Mill Creek area in Everett. Swedish expanded further on the eastside, opening a new state-of-the-art medical center in Issaquah. Swedish announced plans to form an innovative affiliation with Providence Health & Services that would improve health-care quality, access and affordability for the residents of Western Washington.

2012 - Swedish and Providence finalized the affiliation agreement, and joined forces to improve health care for Western Washington

Present day

Numbers for 2013:

  • Licensed beds: 1,512
  • Employees: 8,886

  • Physicians and Allied Health Professionals: a total of 6,023  representing virtually every medical and surgical specialty and subspecialty. Includes 3,054 on staff with the ability to care for patients at multiple facilities; 939 on staff  at Swedish Edmonds; 1,393 on staff at Swedish Issaquah; and 3,691 on staff at Swedish Seattle (First Hill, Ballard and Cherry Hill.) 

  • Babies born: 9,014

  • Emergency-room visits: 176,149

  • Inpatient admissions: 57,088

  • Surgeries performed: 38,794

Swedish is known as a regional referral center, providing an extensive range of specialized treatment:

  • Oncology - Swedish Cancer Institute

  • Cardiovascular care - Swedish Heart & Vascular Institute

  • Neurological care - Swedish Neuroscience Institute

  • Orthopedic care - Swedish Orthopedic Institute

  • Obstetrics (OB) and high-risk OB - Women and Children's Services

  • Clinical research

  • Pediatrics - Swedish Pediatric Specialty Care

  • Primary care - Swedish Physicians

  • Surgery

Swedish is also committed to ongoing medical research. At any given time, there are as many as 700 clinical trials (federal and commercial) being conducted by Swedish-affiliated physicians, making Swedish one of the nation's leading clinical-trial sites.

Caring for our communities

As the largest not-for-profit medical provider in the Greater Seattle area, Swedish has the social responsibility to make a significant contribution to keeping our communities healthy. We see our communities as partners and we're committed to working with them to improve the quality of life for all, regardless of their ability to pay. In 2012, Swedish donated $35,919,842 in direct charity care to the community. 

Community programs and services

Residency programs serving the poor - Swedish works with five community clinics that provide health care to underserved populations, including ethnic communities and the poor. Many of the patients are refugees, homeless or without the means to get the clinical and pharmaceutical attention they need. Our residency programs provide these services at Swedish Community Health Medical Home, the SeaMar Clinic, the Indian Health Board Clinic, Downtown Family Medicine and the Swedish Cherry Hill Family Medicine Clinic.

Services for low-income mothers and newborns - Mothers in need and their young children receive assistance through programs such as Women, Infant and Children’s nutrition. We also provide subsidized childbirth and parenting classes.

Swedish Pregnant Women Services - This program assists expectant mothers with drug and alcohol addictions. It also works with Swedish Perinatal Medicine to make sure these women get the extra medical attention they need to reduce the risk for complications with their pregnancy and health problems in their newborn. 

Clinical services for the elderly - Through the Swedish Ballard Community Nursing Clinic, we offer free vaccinations, blood-pressure checks, foot care and other basic services to low-income seniors. Through our Cherry Hill Campus Family Medicine Clinic, water aerobics, jazzercise and nutrition classes are offered at no cost to the frail and elderly who are striving to make healthy choices.

At-risk youth - With the goal of reducing teen-age suicide and other forms of violence, through a partnership with Seattle Public Schools, Swedish provides summer employment for “at-risk” students. Swedish provides an advocate for the Asian Pacific Islander Teen Peer Advocate Program at Garfield High School through a collaborative effort with Asian Counseling and Referral Services, which addresses the issues of dating violence. We also offer night medical care for homeless youth through a collaboration with Seattle Children’s Home and its Safe Links program.

Health-care services for youth - In 2002, Swedish established a teen health clinic at Ballard High School.

Support for patients and families - Patient-assistance funds are made available to help with rent and other bills, plus medication assistance. Food and clothing banks and patient transportation are part of this program, which also provides comfort therapies to hospice patients. Swedish also donates the space for St. Joseph’s Baby Corner, a program that provides basic baby necessities to those who are desperately in need.

Family violence program - We have trained our medical staff and have developed protocols to identify victims of family violence as they are treated in our medical clinics and emergency departments. In partnership with many community agencies, we provide financial support and donate space to organizations such as New Beginnings and the YWCA that support battered women and their families.

Community health education - The Swedish Health Resource Centers have taken an innovative approach to health education by providing community residents with printed materials and research assistance — all at no charge.

Swedish mobile mammography vans - Swedish provides screening and diagnostic services to women who are low-income or have no insurance.

Program for developmentally disabled students - This program offers job-training skills to students with disabilities.

Health Adventures - In this program, 15 Madison Middle School students interested in health-care careers are mentored by University of Washington medical students and Swedish staff and are given an opportunity to practice math and science skills in a workplace environment.

Bereavement groups - Swedish provides support groups for people who have lost loved ones.

Spiritual-care events - The Spiritual Care Department at Swedish offers several community-based educational events, including a workshop for pastoral caregivers that focuses on hospital visitation, as well as other workshops open to the public on such topics as end-of-life issues and access to health care.

Charity care - Swedish's charity-care program offers free or discounted hospital services for people who cannot afford care. We are able to provide financial assistance in cases where the yearly family income is between zero percent and 400 percent of the federal poverty level.

Matt Talbot Center - Swedish provides financial support to this free, six-month intensive outpatient clinical drug- and alcohol-treatment program.

Center for Career Alternatives - Swedish provides financial support to this program, which provides quality education, job training, career development and employment services to a culturally diverse population of primarily economically disadvantaged youth and adults.

Legislative advocacy - Swedish is committed to working with legislators and has partnered with the Washington State Hospital Association in lobbying for public policy that will provide services for the poor and people most in need of health care.

Swedish Community Specialty Clinic - In September 2010 the SCSC clinic opened on First Hill. The former Mother Joseph and Glaser specialty clinics combined and expanded specialty care services to the uninsured in our community. The clinic is partnered with King County Project Access and is a testament to Swedish Medical Center's commitment to serve the uninsured and underinsured patients in our community.

Accreditation and quality

Swedish Medical Center, which is an equal-opportunity employer, is fully accredited by the Washington State Department of Health, the Commission on Cancer, and the Joint Commission. An active quality improvement program ensures that all patients receive optimal care in a safe and caring environment. Learn more.