News

Swedish Medical Center to partner with peninsula hospitals

by MARK ST.J. COUHIG
Sequim Gazette

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.

 

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 chose 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.

 

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 mcouhig@sequimgazette.com.

 

 

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