PeaceHealth, Skagit Regional Health plan alliance

The governing boards of PeaceHealth and Skagit County Public Hospital District No. 1 have approved a letter of intent to create a strategic alliance within the next nine to 12 months, which would also include collaboration with UW Medicine, a provider that recently finalized a partnership agreement with PeaceHealth’s Northwest Network.

Skagit’s Public Hospital District No. 1, which goes by the name Skagit Regional Health, includes the 137-bed Skagit Valley Hospital in Mount Vernon and 10 Skagit Regional Clinics. The district serves patients in Skagit, Island, San Juan and north Snohomish counties.

St. Joseph Hospital in Bellingham is part of PeaceHealth’s Northwest Network.

The letter of intent lays out, in broad terms, the objectives of the proposed alliance. The providers’ say the next step in their negotiations is to develop more specific goals before creating a final, definitive agreement within the next year.

(Download a PDF version of the letter by clicking here: PeaceHealth, Skagit Regional Health Letter of Intent)

The proposed alliance would integrate clinical and administrative systems, as well as pool together complementary clinical resources between the two providers, with the goals of reducing care costs while broadening the array of health services available to patients served by Skagit Regional Health, according to the letter.

Both providers also indicate a desire to create joint ventures around unspecified service lines. The letter notes possible consolidation of various support services, as well as new partnerships on physician recruitment and the implementation of an enhanced IT platform for Skagit Regional Health.

The proposal states that the district board of Skagit Regional Health would retain ultimate authority over the care its hospital and other facilities provide. A provision in the letter of intent notes this would include the preservation of certain women’s health, reproductive and end-of-life services currently available to patients at Skagit’s facilities. PeaceHealth, in keeping with its Catholic-based care guidelines, does not currently offer a similar range of services.

Skagit Regional Health would also retain control over its finances, according to the proposal.

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