Kadlec to join up with Providence Health & Services

Tri-City HeraldJune 10, 2014 

Kadlec Health System plans to join forces with Providence Health & Services, a large Catholic health network that operates in five states. The two organizations have signed an agreement to form an affiliation, officials announced Tuesday.

Under the arrangement, the Richland-based Kadlec will remain a separate, nonreligious entity, and its local board and foundation will stay intact. The affiliation will better position Kadlec to continue to grow and navigate the changing health care landscape, the health system’s leaders said.

It became clear in the past several years that, “we were going to need the strength and expertise of an even larger regional system if we were going to successfully transition into the health reform era,” said Lane Savitch, president of Kadlec Regional Medical Center.

While Kadlec is in a strong and stable position now, “we recognize the current delivery and financing of health care is not sustainable, and significant pressures will be placed upon stand-alone hospitals and their clinicians to manage the health of entire populations,” added Rand Wortman, Kadlec Health System president and CEO, in a statement.

“We have a responsibility and a need to reduce the cost of health care. Our board of directors believes the best way to ensure a viable not-for-profit health care system for the region indefinitely into the future is to affiliate with a partner like Providence,” he said.

Kadlec will join Western HealthConnect, a nonreligious entity created by Providence and used in the Catholic health network’s affiliations with the secular Swedish Health Services and Pacific Medical Centers, both based in Seattle.

Kadlec will remain a separate nonprofit, with Western HealthConnect as its sole corporate member. The affiliation doesn’t involve a purchase or sale. It’s expected to be implemented over a couple of years.

The affiliation won’t change reproductive health care services within the Richland health system, Kadlec officials said, noting patients still will have access to contraceptives and sterilizations.

Kadlec physicians, who don’t perform elective abortions, also will continue referring patients seeking those services to outside providers, according to information from the health system. Kadlec also isn’t changing its approach to end-of-life care. The health system doesn’t fill prescriptions for lethal medications.

“Patients, families, nurses, physicians and any member of a care team are encouraged to explore fully all treatment options for terminally ill patients. As part of that discussion, a patient may request life-ending medication allowed under Washington law and the patient can be provided with a referral. Kadlec will continue to provide end of life care that addresses the physical, emotional and social needs of the patient and his or her family but will not participate in a patient’s suicide,” the information said.

Under the affiliation — many details of which still are being worked out — Kadlec’s board will remain in place, becoming a community board of Western HealthConnect.

The local board members will have final choice in some areas, such as which physicians to contract with, Savitch said.

In other areas, such as taking on debt for capital projects, Kadlec will have to go through the Providence system, he said.

The Kadlec Foundation, which raises money for the health system, will remain in place, with the funding it collects staying in the community, officials said.

The health system’s leadership team also is expected to remain intact.

More than 2,600 people work at Kadlec’s hospital and clinics around the region. Providence and its affiliates have more than 70,000 employees across Alaska, California, Oregon, Montana and Washington, with 33 hospitals, almost 450 physician clinics and a network of services and programs.

Dr. Rod Hochman, president and CEO of Providence, described Kadlec as the centerpiece of health care services in the Tri-City area.

“We have tremendous respect for the work Kadlec has done to meet the expanding health needs of the region and increase access for all patients,” he said in a statement. “We look forward to a partnership that will allow our organizations to preserve not-for-profit health care in our communities.”

The affiliation between Providence and Kadlec doesn’t come as a surprise. The two organizations have been in talks for months, with rumors widely circulating about some kind of possible partnership.

Susan Kreid, chairwoman of Kadlec’s board, said she and her board colleagues looked for an organization with a mission that aligned with Kadlec’s, and found that in Providence.

The affiliation will allow Kadlec to preserve its identity and strengths, and to share in Providence’s strengths, she said.

“Between us, I think we should be able to turn that collaboration into innovation that will control costs and expand services for the benefit of the Tri-Cities community and for Kadlec’s patients,” Kreid said. “We’re really looking forward to sharing the future together.”

-- Sara Schilling: 509-582-1529; sschilling@tricityherald.com; Twitter: @saraTCHerald

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