A rumor is circulating in Tri-City medical circles that Kadlec Regional Medical Center could become part of Providence Health & Services, a large Catholic health network that operates in five states.
If Kadlec and Providence decided to pursue an arrangement such as a hospital merger or affiliation involving a transfer of control, a state review would be required.
The state hadn't received any paperwork on such a proposal as of Friday. The review process includes opportunity for public comment.
A Kadlec Health System spokesman said in a statement -- without confirming whether officials are or have been in talks with Providence -- that the system has been approached by multiple health organizations in recent years about possibly working together.
"In fact, we frequently discuss partnerships with organizations on a variety of potential projects, but do not discuss them publicly until there is something formally put together," the statement said.
A Providence spokeswoman issued a similar statement, telling the Herald, "We regularly explore partnerships that would help us improve quality, reduce the cost of care and enhance patient experience. However, we don't discuss potential partnerships publicly until all parties involved agree to do so."
Providence's system office is in Renton, and it has hospitals, clinics and other facilities and services in Washington, Alaska, California, Montana and Oregon.
Its Washington hospitals include Providence St. Mary Medical Center in Walla Walla.
Kadlec Health System is a private nonprofit organization, with Kadlec Regional Medical Center in Richland and a network of clinics and services.
Kadlec's statement Friday noted that "our industry is changing quickly, as evidenced by hospital alliances in the Northwest and around the country."
It said Kadlec's volunteer board of directors "is committed to doing what's best for our patients and the communities we serve."
"Kadlec will always remain focused on our mission of providing quality care to every patient we serve," the statement said. "We understand employees' and the community's desire to know what the future holds and we promise to share any plans once they are solidified."
w Sara Schilling: 582-1529; firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @saraTCHerald