Swedish CEO resigns after Seattle Times articles

In the wake of two heavily critical Seattle Times articles, Swedish CEO Tony Armada has resigned. But the controversy surrounding Swedish is unlikely to diminish soon.

Two weeks ago, Swedish caregivers were notified about the impending articles in The Seattle Times criticizing current Swedish practices. The email was sent out on February 7.

 

Letter on behalf of Tony Armada, June Altaras and Dr. Guy Hudson

Dear Swedish caregivers,

Swedish has always been committed to the highest quality, safest health care for our community. We often care for the sickest of the sick and work to achieve the best outcome for every patient. Unfortunately, we have been notified that there will be coverage in The Seattle Times this week that may challenge our culture and commitment to quality and safety.

These stories (we know of two that are planned) are based in part on rumors and misinformation that were spread a few months ago, and we do not expect them to accurately reflect Swedish’s dedication to our patients, caregivers and the community.  We believe they will be critical of the Swedish Neuroscience Institute and some of our physicians.

We are proud that SNI has a uniquely talented and experienced team focused on what is best for our patients. Swedish and SNI are committed to providing caregivers with a work environment that is safe, respectful and inspiring. We believe our caregivers are the heart of this life-saving, life-changing patient care. To maintain a culture of safety, each and every caregiver is supported and empowered to raise safety concerns. Any concerns about quality of care are addressed immediately and thoroughly reviewed with oversight from medical committees, senior leadership and third-party experts when needed. We also have systems to provide checks and balances, and we use industry benchmarks to measure our success.

As you may know, to protect patient and caregiver privacy we are limited in what we can share with the media. We stand by our caregivers, practices and our ongoing efforts to deliver high-quality health care. If any of your patients have questions about the articles, here are a few points to help you respond:

    • The number one priority at Swedish is, and has always been, high-quality and safe patient-centered care.
    • The caregivers and physicians at Swedish Neuroscience Institute are an accomplished, experienced team and always focused on what is best for our patients.
    • Patient procedures, treatments and health outcomes are tracked closely to ensure we always monitor quality.
    • There are many measures by which SNI outperforms national standards. For example, at the end of 2015, Swedish Cherry Hill was awarded the Comprehensive Stroke Center Certification from DNV GL-Healthcare. We are one of only two hospitals in Washington state to receive this certification. We are also the only hospital in Washington state to be in Healthgrades top 100 hospitals list for stroke care.
    • We take seriously our legal and ethical obligations to respect and protect the privacy of our patients.

If you have any further questions or concerns, please reach out to your manager or campus leader.

Thank you,

Anthony A. Armada, FACHE
Chief Executive Officer
Swedish Health Services

June Altaras MN, NEA-BC, RN
Chief Administrative and Operating Officer
Swedish Health Services

Guy Hudson, M.D., MBA, FAAP
Chief of Physician Services
Western Washington


Three days later, The Seattle Times published the two articles. One told of the unfortunate death of Talia Goldenberg due to complications after neurosurgery. The other criticized Swedish’s high-volume surgery approach, lack of accountability, and inadequate patient care. Several surgeons are named and criticized, including Dr. Delashaw, who was the attending physical for Talia’s surgery. The article also criticizes the lack of response from leadership, including CEO Tony Armada.

Eleven days after The Seattle Times published the articles, CEO Tony Armada resigned. Below is his letter to Swedish caregivers.

 

Letter from Tony Armada to Swedish Caregivers

Dear Caregivers,

I want to share some personal news with you. After much thought and reflection, I’ve made the difficult decision to resign from my positions as Chief Executive Officer for Swedish Health Services and Chief Executive, Providence Western Washington Region. I have the utmost respect for Swedish as an organization. I believe this change is the right thing to do, and also offers the opportunity to look to the future with new objectivity; and to begin a process of healing and strengthened trust.

Since my arrival three years ago, I have been continually impressed by the passion and commitment of every physician and caregiver. Even while facing the challenges of a changing health care environment, we should all be proud of the progress made to create and deliver the Swedish Five Bests. I’m also very proud of the implementation of our program planning model that has led to a solid structure for our Institutes & Enterprises.

I’m pleased that Guy Hudson, MD will serve as Interim Chief Executive Officer of Swedish Health Services. Guy is an outstanding physician, leader and ambassador for the organization. I have great confidence in him, and know he will do a tremendous job along with partners like June Altaras, Joanne Roberts, MD and so many other leaders.

I will be working with Guy and the leadership team to support a smooth transition.

I’ve met so many kind and caring people in my time here and value the relationships I’ve established while in my role. It has been a true honor to serve you and be a part of place that makes such a difference in the lives of our patients, families and community.

Sincerely,
Tony