Olympic Medical Center board gives CEO approval to move forward with new ‘tertiary’ associate

Olympic Medical Center hopes to join forces formally with Swedish Medical Center to provide better health care services to peninsula residents.


After nine months of planning and research, OMC CEO Eric Lewis told the board of commissioners that Swedish is the best choice to serve as a “tertiary” associate for the local hospital system. The board agreed with his recommendation, unanimously approving a motion authorizing Lewis to move forward in creating a joint “non-binding letter of intent” with Swedish.


OMC, Jefferson Healthcare and Forks Community Hospital have been working together for nine months to choose a tertiary associate. This week the Jefferson Healthcare board also named Swedish as its choice. The Forks board will meet March 22 to decide its next step in the selection process. Lewis said he hopes and anticipates Forks will join the other two peninsula hospitals in choosing Swedish.


Lewis described the role of the new tertiary affiliate, saying Swedish will provide a number of useful services, including those “third-level services” OMC can’t provide, such as open-heart surgery, neurosurgery, care for severe burns and neonatal intensive care.


He said utilizing the tertiary affiliate would be up to patients but if they choose that option, they would receive excellent, cost-effective service. Lewis said Swedish has agreed that “all patients are accepted.” That includes private pay, Medicare and uninsured patients, he said.


OMC and Swedish will work out details to ensure that patients switching from one system to the other have a “smooth transition,” Lewis said. Plans call for a “one call does it all” process.

Benefits package

Lewis said having a larger affiliate will help OMC meet other challenges, including new electronic medical record-keeping (EMR) requirements. Swedish utilizes Epic, a highly-praised record-keeping system.

Lewis said the system, now the dominant EMR system in the Northwest, was unavailable to OMC. “We can’t buy Epic,” he said. “We’re not big enough.”


Lewis said to date Swedish has spent $150 million on the service. “They’ll license it to us at a price we can afford,” he said.


Lewis also praised the medical staff at Swedish, saying the hospital’s reputation allows it to “cherry pick” the nation’s very best doctors.


Recommendations to move forward with Swedish also were filed by OMC’s tertiary medical center task force, the medical staff executive committee, Olympic Medical Physicians Council and hospital administrators. Chief of Staff Harry Lyndes, M.D., noted OMC “can’t buy everything. Swedish has an incredible plant. If we can get what they have without buying it, that works well.”


Lyndes said OMC’s physicians and physician assistants were unanimous in their support of Swedish.


Speaking on behalf of the Board Tertiary Medical Center Task Force, commissioner John Beitzel said the Swedish Neuroscience Institute is “probably the strongest neuroscience program available to us.” He also noted the Swedish Heart and Vascular Institute is associated with “more than 60 specialists” and provides a long list of services, including cardiac surgery, diagnostic services, heart rhythm treatments, interventional cardiology and vascular disease services.


Swedish Orthopedic Institute is one of “the largest in the U.S., with all orthopedic and many spine services combined under one roof,” Beitzel said.


Lewis will begin work on creating the non-binding letter of intent with Swedish, with completion expected by April 20. OMC officials hope to have the final agreements within the next three to five months. “If we work hard, we can get this ready,” Lewis said. “We’re ready to go forward.”


The agreement is subject to final approval by OMC’s board of commissioners.


Reach Mark Couhig at



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