Valley General Hospital to become EvergreenHealth affiliate

  • HBJ staff
  • Thursday, September 27, 2012 1:47pm

KIRKLAND — EvergreenHealth and Valley General Hospital of Monroe have announced the intent to form a new affiliation that will give Snohomish County residents more choices and access to the integrated, high-quality services offered by EvergreenHealth and its partners, Virginia Mason Medical Center and Seattle Cancer Care Alliance.

Valley General Hospital’s Board of Commissioners voted unanimously Wednesday to approve a letter of intent to enter into an agreement which would make Valley General Hospital an affiliate of EvergreenHealth. The EvergreenHealth Board of Commissioners is expected to review and approve the LOI in its board meeting scheduled for Oct. 2.

Under the terms of the LOI, both organizations will remain independent and separately governed, licensed and accredited. The organizations expect to complete due diligence and finalize the affiliation agreement by the end of the year. Neither organization foresees any reduction in staff as a result.

The LOI calls for EvergreenHealth and Valley General to collaborate to provide expanded health care services in Monroe, beginning with EvergreenHealth developing a primary-care practice in the Sky River Medical Office Building in Valley General space.

Both EvergreenHealth, based in Kirkland, and Valley General, which serves Snohomish County from Monroe, operate as tax-supported community-based organizations with similar financial structures. The affiliation enables EvergreenHealth to improve Valley General’s current position with additional resources from EvergreenHealth, including its executive team and network of 900 providers.

“We’re committed to providing high-quality care at the lowest possible cost, and with this affiliation, we’ll be able to uphold that pledge to our patients,” Michael Fraser, interim CEO of Valley General, said in a news release. “By working with EvergreenHealth, not only will we bolster our services to patients, but we will strengthen our organization as a whole.”

“Medical centers around the country are facing tough economic challenges, many of which hit hospitals in smaller communities the hardest,” EvergreenHealth CEO Bob Malte said in the news release. “This affiliation is one step to help address these financial hurdles and to help keep health care widely available and affordable to those we’re committed to serve.”

Valley General’s patients will also have access to care through EvergreenHealth’s existing partnerships with Virginia Mason Medical Center and Seattle Cancer Care Alliance.

“Our communities are so closely aligned, with many staff members and patients residing and working in the same areas of service, that our affiliation is truly a natural progression,” said Fraser.

The size and quality of EvergreenHealth’s professional staff and campus fosters an environment of superior and varied care, resulting in a number of recent regional and national awards, including two consecutive HealthGrades Outstanding Patient Experience Awards, ranking EvergreenHealth in the top 10 percent of hospitals nationwide. In 2012, HealthGrades also named EvergreenHealth a Distinguished Hospital for Clinical Excellence for the fourth straight year. EvergreenHealth has been awarded top marks for patient safety by Consumer Reports as well.

The LOI also calls for EvergreenHealth to provide consultative and contractual management services to Valley General, which will be designed to help it develop a long-term plan for financial solvency, clinical services and high-quality performance.

A subcommittee will form an Affiliation Governance Council to ensure satisfaction by both parties, with representation from two EvergreenHealth commissioners and one Valley General commissioner, as well as executive leaders. The ACG will meet to discuss shared decision-making in the affiliation and oversight for a mutually beneficial agreement