Living our legacy

April 11, 2014

I officially joined Swedish as chief executive in November 2013. One of the many things that drew me to Swedish was its powerful legacy of innovation, care quality, and its focus on serving every member of our communities, regardless of their ability to pay.

Today, this legacy lives on through our team of dedicated caregivers, our leadership and our community partners. We challenge ourselves to think beyond the status quo to find the best outcomes for our patients.

It is an incredibly exciting time here at Swedish. During a period of unprecedented changes in the health care industry, I am proud to tell you that Swedish is stronger now than ever. Just a few years ago, our institution was stabilizing following significant financial challenges. Today, we are strongly positioned to continue delivering high quality, accessible care to the communities of Western Washington.

One of our most effective strategies for improving the health and well-being of those we serve is our affiliation with Providence Health & Services. I continue to hear questions about how the affiliation benefits Swedish and I want to provide you with specific examples of how the affiliation has strengthened our ability to serve more people across our communities, regardless of their ability to pay.

Last year, we:

  • Reduced the total cost of care for our patients by streamlining administrative functions with Providence, saving Swedish $163 million and through debt financing, an additional $75 million.
  • Lowered prices for outpatient services by an average of 35 percent.
  • Reinvented our physician compensation model to focus on outcomes, not number of treatments.
  • Improved various specialties, including vascular and neuroscience care, as a result of shared best practices.
  • Provided more than $140 million in community benefits.

While we have accomplished many great things together, I know many of you hear questions about how the affiliation impacts the services we provide to our patients. I want to address these questions head on because they are important to me, to our caregivers and to our communities. It is true that many of our administrative functions are integrated, clinical expertise is shared and we are sometimes exposed to each other’s traditions, but that does not mean that Swedish doesn’t have its own identity, culture and traditions.

Here are a few key facts that will help you understand more about our affiliation with Providence and what it means for Swedish and our patients.

  • We are not a faith-based organization and we will remain Swedish – from our culture, to our core staff and the Swedish brand. This was important at the time of the affiliation and it remains important today.
  • We do not follow the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services.
  • We do not perform elective abortions within our facilities. Prior to the affiliation with Providence, we independently made a decision to follow clinical best practices and to refer patients seeking an elective abortion to appropriate, outpatient providers. When necessary, on an emergency basis, termination of pregnancy procedures are performed at Swedish.
  • We offer the full range of birth control services, including vasectomies and tubal ligations.
  • We continue to fully respect and follow the wishes that patients indicate in their advance directives and living wills for patients and families facing end-of-life decisions.
  • We do not provide life-ending medications to patients or permit patients to take such medications while at Swedish. This decision was made in 2009, nearly three years prior to our affiliation with Providence, and is in full compliance with Washington’s Death With Dignity Act.
  • We do not restrict what a clinician can discuss with a patient.;

With an excellent foundation for the future, we will continue to improve health care in our region. It is a privilege and an honor to be a part of preserving and building upon the 104-year Swedish legacy of service to the patients and communities of Western Washington.