By Sharon Salyer Herald Writer
A Colorado public hospital that leased its facility and began providing community health services is serving as a model for what could take place in south Snohomish County beginning later this year.
If approved by the state Department of Health, Seattle’s Swedish Health Services would begin managing Stevens Hospital in Edmonds, perhaps by Sept. 1. It would pay the hospital district $7.2 million a year in lease payments.
With tax money and other income, the hospital district is expected to take in about $10 million a year. The hospital district is trying to decide what to do with that money.
Several members of the Stevens Hospital board said that the Health District of Northern Larimer County in Colorado is one example of the direction they could take.
In 2009, the Colorado health district had a 100-member staff and budget of $6.3 million, from tax money, grants and fees. About 180,000 people live within the health district’s boundaries.
It provides a number of health services, including dental care, mental health services and wellness programs such as cholesterol and blood pressure checks, said Richard Cox, health district spokesman.
The Colorado health district was created in 1994, when its publicly elected board turned over management of its hospital to a not-for-profit organization.
The tax money that previously went to the hospital was turned over to providing health services in Fort Collins and other area communities.
The public is surveyed every three years to determine which health programs are most in demand, Cox said. In response, some programs, including a medical van, have been dropped when those services were provided in other ways. Other programs, such as mental health and substance abuse services, were added.
“There is nothing quite like it anywhere else in country,” Cox said.
Sharon Salyer: 425-339-3486; firstname.lastname@example.org.
By the numbers
During 2009, Colorado’s Health District of Northern Larimer County:
Spent $6.33 million.
Served 4,101 dental patients
Supplied vouchers for 18,110 medications
Provided mental health or substance abuse help to 3,525 people.
Gave blood pressure checks to 1,738 people and cholesterol checks to 1,442