PeaceHealth, UW Medicine plan new strategic alliance

PeaceHealth has signed a letter of intent with UW Medicine to form a strategic alliance between the two nonprofit health care systems.

Leaders of both organizations say the affiliation will allow for coordinated care and services for patients of both providers. The deal is expected to be finalized by Sept. 30.

PeaceHealth operates nine medical centers, laboratories and other medical services and facilites in Washington, Oregon and Alaska. That includes the St. Joseph Medical Center in Bellingham, Whatcom County’s only hospital and the county’s largest employer.

UW Medicine’s facilities include Harborview Medical Center, Northwest Hospital and Medical Center, Valley Medical Center, University of Washington Medical Center, UW Neighborhood Clinics, UW Physicians, UW School of Medicine and Airlift Northwest.

The two organizations will remain legally separate and independent, according to a press release, and each group’s governance will not be affected. No government regulatory approval is required for the alliance.

The letter of intent notes both organizations plan to pursue initiatives to increase access to specialized services such as cardiovascular care, high-risk obstetrics and neonatology, cancer care, behavioral health and neurosciences. Leaders of both groups say they plan to work together to develop and expand community-based training sites for UW School of Medicine students and trainees in the communities PeaceHealth serves in Washington and Alaska.

PeaceHealth has been actively searching for new affiliates and partners around the region. The Catholic health system has shown particular interest in the Puget Sound area.

A recent plan to form a new health care system through a joint venture with the nationwide provider Catholic Health Initiatives, which operates the Franciscan Health System in Tacoma, was suspended in April.

PeaceHealth and CHI spokespeople said the scale of the deal presented too many complexities for either group to meet agreeable terms.

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