History in the Making
Olympic Medical Center’s affiliation with Swedish Health Services is a historical moment, positioning the community to have continued quality medical care, right here at home.
On October 19, 2011, Olympic Medical Center’s board of commissioners unanimously approved affiliating with Swedish Medical Center. The overall goal of the 20-year agreement with Swedish is to allow for more health care services locally, while improving continuity of care and transfers when patients need the sub-specialty care offered only in the Seattle area.
Olympic Medical is the first affiliate of the Swedish Health Network.
Olympic Medical will remain locally owned and independent – under the governance of publicly elected commissioners. Yet the affiliation with Swedish allows for integration of specific services to provide expanded access to sleep medicine, neurology and cardiology to name a few. Swedish’s ability to bring providers to Clallam County expands medical services, and helps Olympic Medical Center cut costs.
“We want to offer more health services locally,” says Eric Lewis, chief executive officer, Olympic Medical Center. “This will be an advantage for our patients, our community, our employees, Swedish, and Olympic Medical Center.”
For services that cannot be provided locally, patients who choose can be referred to Swedish for care. This affiliation assures these patients will be sent back to their local primary care doctors for follow-up care.
“In general, patients don’t like to travel often for medical care – particularly if they can receive it in their own community,” says Lewis. “Our agreement with Swedish is clear that patients need to be referred back to their community when quality, state-of-the-art services are located there. This is a win/win for all of us.”
The affiliation helps sustain financial viability for Olympic Medical Center by providing expanded clinical services – such as telemedicine. But other cost savings are realized through access to the Epic electronic medical records system and participation in a large buying group with Swedish and other large health care systems in the Seattle area.
Olympic Medical must continue to find ways to curb costs and limit expenses in a health care environment of continuously declining reimbursement.
Preparing for the Coming Change
Uncertainties in health care reform, and reductions in government reimbursements for Medicare and Medicaid, are prompting boards and executives at hospitals and medical systems across the nation to rethink how they do business.
Administrators and commissioners at Olympic Medical are committed to OMC as a community-owned hospital, with decisions made at the local level. However, they also know that they cannot stand alone. “If a hospital as small and rural as Olympic Medical tries to go it on its own, it’s going to have significant financial problems,” says Lewis. “We now have a large, prominent and well-respected partner that will work with us to ensure our community is properly cared for.”
Freedom of Choice
The affiliation with Swedish is not a merger or an acquisition, confirms Lewis. Further, patients will not be required to utilize Swedish for tertiary care services. “It is advantageous for patients to stay in the system as it helps ensure continuity of care, but freedom of choice will remain for physicians and patients.”
Exciting Time for Local Health Care
“I really believe Olympic Medical Center is going to start a trend with this kind of affiliation,” says Jean Hordyk, board commissioner at Olympic Medical. “It’s neat that we are being the first to do it. It’s kind of scary, but it is also exciting at the same time.”
Olympic Medical Center is proud to offer new and expanded services in the following specialties, thanks to our affiliation with Swedish:
Learn more about Swedish.