Washington Hospital Attempts Regional Affiliation with Nearby Health Systems

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media , September 9, 2009

After more than a year of internal discussions, officials at Stevens Hospital in suburban Seattle have asked an independent consultant to open formal talks with several nearby healthcare systems in the hopes of creating an affiliation.

The consultant, Howard Thomas, has been told by the public hospital's board of commissioners to begin work immediately on defining the affiliation process and the specific proposed terms of affiliation for the 156-bed, 45-year-old facility in Edmonds, WA. Local media in the Seattle area are reporting that the hospital is already in confidential negotiations with five health systems.

Jack Kirkman, Stevens' vice president and chief development officer, says the commission has identified five goals for the affiliation:

  1. Enhance and expand Steven's mission and vision by increasing and improving access to the healthcare services available to residents of South Snohomish and Northwest King counties
  2. Enhance the availability of services and advanced medical procedures to the citizens in Stevens' service area and integrate this care with services that are available at Stevens
  3. Improve Stevens' long-term financial viability
  4. Improve the community's perception of Stevens and complete the process of developing Stevens as a "must have" healthcare provider
  5. Retain and recruit quality medical staff by providing professional opportunities."

Built in 1964, Stevens' has a staff of more than 1,200 and more than 450 physicians have admitting privileges. Service lines include cardiac and cancer care, obstetrics, emergency services, and diagnostic imaging. The hospital serves the communities of North Seattle, Edmonds, Lynnwood, Mill Creek and Bothell.

Stevens Hospital officials say a replacement facility would cost about $400 million, which would have to be paid for by a local tax hike.

John Commins is a senior editor with HealthLeaders Media.

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