SEATTLE-Aetna Health Plans and Group Health Cooperative of Puget Sound have signed a memorandum of understanding to form a partnership. Some 3,000 physicians at GHC-the Northwest's largest HMO-and its affiliate Group Health Northwest, which serves eastern and central Washington and north Idaho, will join Aetna's PPO for Washington state. GHC, a staff-model HMO with 510,000 enrollees, also will manage a new Aetna point-of-service provider network. It will include GHC and Group Health Northwest providers as well as Virginia Mason Medical Center, an integrated system comprising 300 physicians, a 258-bed hospital, 15 clinics, a research center and an HMO. Both organizations said the affiliation will not lead to a merger. New patients from the Aetna relationship "will help us use our hospitals, specialty centers and family health centers more efficiently" and bring more business to GHC's contracted providers, said Phil Nudelman, GHC president and chief executive officer. For Aetna, the partnership means expanded access to a statewide network. It will also "improve our medical management capabilities and reduce medical costs for our customers through economies of scale," said Jim Hickey, vice president of Aetna Health Plans' Pacific Northwest market. Hartford, Conn.-based Aetna has 118,000 enrollees in Washington state.
REDWOOD CITY, Calif.-Kaiser Permanente began construction of a new medical office building and parking structure at Redwood Medical Center last month. When complete, the four-story medical office building will in-clude an ambulatory surgery center, a health education center, a pharmacy and medical offices. It will contain an eight-level parking structure with 750 parking spaces, and will be linked to the medical office building by a common elevator system.
The $22 million project will be one of the largest capital investment projects in Redwood City this year. It will serve some 89,500 patients through Kaiser's Medical Care Program. DPR Construction has been selected to build the facility. The parking structure is expected to be completed by this fall, and the medical office building is expected to be ready for occupancy by the end of 1996. Kaiser Permanente is based in Oakland, Calif.