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Regional News/West: Washington hospitals required to post wide range of policies, and other news


By Beth Kutscher and Rachel Landen
Posted: March 29, 2014 - 12:01 am ET
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As of last week, hospitals in Washington state were required to post their policies on reproductive healthcare, end-of-life care, nondiscrimination, charity care and admissions. Some of the information was still missing either because of a delay in complying or because the policies are in review, according to the State Health Department.

The new state rules also require a certificate of need whenever a hospital is sold, leased or transferred from one entity to another, a move opposed by the state's hospital association.

Washington state passed the law requiring public disclosure of the wide range of hospital policies in the wake of Providence Health & Services' 2012 deal to acquire Swedish Health Services, a not-for-profit secular system. That merger renewed the debate around reproductive health that sometimes follows Catholic-secular mergers.

While the deal allowed Swedish to retain its secular identity, local critics sounded the alarm after Swedish said it would stop performing elective abortions and instead outsource those services through a partnership with Planned Parenthood.

As of late last week, information was available on the Health Department website for most of the hospitals under the Providence umbrella, but not for Swedish. A spokeswoman for Providence said Providence and Swedish submitted separate policy documents to the Health Department on March 25 and posted the information on the hospitals' websites.

The Health Department implemented the new rules on Jan. 23 and gave hospitals 60 days to comply. The policies are available on the department's website and also must be posted on hospitals' own websites.

Follow Beth Kutscher on Twitter: @MHbkutscher

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Billings Clinic opens cardiac-care facilities

John R. Burg MD Cardiac Center is slated to open March 31.
John R. Burg MD Cardiac Center is slated to open March 31.
Billings (Mont.) Clinic is opening two cardiac facilities, thanks in large part to the philanthropic support of a retired Billings Clinic cardiologist and his wife.

The John R. Burg MD Cardiac Center was slated to begin seeing patients in the new space March 31. Named after Dr. John Burg, who retired from Billings Clinic in 2006 after 33 years, the 20,000-square-foot facility is in the main hospital building. It includes additional exam and diagnostic testing rooms; a cardiac rehabilitation space nearly three times larger than the previous one; and more-advanced cardiac-care technology.

The cardiovascular unit, also in the hospital, occupies space formerly known as the ambulatory telemetry unit. Once a 10,000-square-foot unit, the new space is an expanded 27,000 square feet and is directly above the intensive-care unit and the emergency and trauma center.

When the two projects were announced in August 2012, total cost was estimated at $10.9 million. That amount has come from fundraisers, the Billings Clinic Foundation, money set aside for campus expansion plans, and a gift from Burg and his wife, Pat.

Follow Rachel Landen on Twitter: @MHrlanden


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