Providence Hospice and Homecare of Snohomish County, in Everett. (Lizz Giordano / The Herald)

Providence Hospice and Homecare of Snohomish County, in Everett. (Lizz Giordano / The Herald)

Providence to close inpatient hospice unit in Everett

Patients and families will have to go to Bellingham or Kirkland for similar care. Employees will be offered other positions.

EVERETT — Providence will permenantly close its 16-bed inpatient hospice unit in Everett on Feb. 10.

Patients and families will have to go to Bellingham or Kirkland for similar care nearby.

Thirty-six employees learned Monday afternoon that they would lose these jobs. They will all be offered positions with Providence visiting hospice patients in their homes, be that private residences, assisted living facilities or elsewhere.

Patients have typically stayed for three to five days to deal with acute symptoms or receive “respite” care. If their families can afford it, the patient also might be admitted for respite care for more than five days — so that the family caregivers can have a longer break.

Providence Hospice and Home Care of Snohomish County is a separate line of business, or “ministry,” from Providence Regional Medical Center in Everett, despite occupying the eighth floor of the Colby campus building since 2016.

Mary Beth Walker, spokesperson for Providence Hospice and Home Care, said the inpatient hospice unit has cared for more than 2,000 patients.

It has never made money. In its best year it lost $2 million. It has averaged six patients per day over the nearly seven years of operations: The actual demand for care just never met projected need. And like much of health care, it has experienced a staffing shortage in recent years.

Many of the hospice employees are represented by a union, SEIU 1199NW. Secretary-treasurer Yolanda King-Lowe said in a written statement that the union is “saddened” by Providence’s decision and waiting for a response to a request for information.

“Our priorities are to protect the livelihoods of impacted caregivers and to ensure that the patients they serve can count on continuity of care,” she said. “We have expressed our concerns to Providence management and look forward to negotiating re-hiring, retention, and compensation details. The workers are confident that because they have a union contract in place, these next steps will take place in a fair, equitable way.”

Walker emphasized that Providence will continue to provide care for hospice patients in the region, including children.

“We are deeply committed to serving patients and their families,” she said. “This is absolutely our mission to care for these vulnerable people at a sacred time in their lives.”

Providence has not made a decision on how they will use the vacant space.

Correction: This article was updated on Jan. 13, 2023 to elaborate on details regarding respite care at Providence Hospice

Joy Borkholder is the health and wellness reporter for The Daily Herald. Her work is supported by the Health Reporting Initiative, which is sponsored in part by Premera Blue Cross. The Daily Herald maintains editorial control over content produced through this initiative.

Joy Borkholder: 425-339-3430; joy.borkholder@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @jlbinvestigates.

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