In what state officials say is likely Washington state's first-ever merger of two public hospitals, Kirkland, Wash.-based EvergreenHealth and Valley General Hospital, Monroe, Wash., have completed a merger agreement they began working on in 2012.
As a result of the deal, the 72-bed Valley General Hospital will be renamed EvergreenHealth Monroe, starting in March 2015. No cash was exchanged in the agreement, which officials say will bring additional services in primary care, prenatal obstetrics, orthopedic surgery and rehabilitation services to the hospital and its surrounding community.
The renamed Valley General will be the second hospital in the EvergreenHealth system, which also includes a multi-specialty 220-physician medical group and a home-care business. The deal merges the two organization's financials, and also creates an Alliance Governance Board, consisting of two board members from EvergreenHealth, two commissioners from the Snohomish County Public Hospital District No. 1—in which the hospital is located—and the CEO of EvergreenHealth, currently Bob Malte.
Valley General CEO Eric Jensen said he hopes the new branding will attract area residents who sometimes make the trek to Evergreen's main campus, about 18 miles away.
“The name change is an important indicator that Evergreen is there to stay, marketing and talking about what (people) can expect to see in the community,” Jensen said.
Additional primary-care services and new behavioral health beds will be a “huge gain” for the community, Malte said. Valley General had a license for an inpatient psychiatry unit but closed it in 2011 due to low demand and a staffing shortage.
Evergreen recently announced plans to lease a wing in Valley General to Fairfax Behavioral Health, a division of the nearby Kirkland, Wash.-based Fairfax Hospital, to operate a 34-bed psychiatric hospital on the Valley General campus in 2015. Jensen said he had been previously negotiating with Fairfax and the affiliation with Evergreen offered Fairfax additional assurance of the long-term sustainability of Valley General.
In the coming months, the hospitals will continue to align their brands, protocols and procedures, in addition to their electronic health-record systems. They will both use Cerner Corp. products, Malte said.
“We've been able to achieve a certain amount of economies of scale so that there isn't a duplication of resources,” Malte said, adding that the organizations have found synergy in areas such as supply management, information technology and human resources.
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