Message from Providence CEO Rod Hochmann

Note:  This email was first released by the Seattle Times on Thursday March 16th. The original version can be found here.

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From: Corporate Communications [mailto:CorporateCommunications@swedish.org]
Sent: Tuesday, March 14, 2017 3:51 PM
To: Corporate Communications <CorporateCommunications@swedish.org>
Subject: From Rod Hochman: Sharing My Perspective

*** This message is sent on behalf of Rod Hochman, President and CEO of Providence St. Joseph Health ***

Dear Swedish caregivers and medical staff,

Though you have not heard from me directly, Swedish has been very much on my mind. I care deeply about the organization and am painfully aware that this has been a difficult time for all of you.
I have refrained from commenting until now to try to give Dr. Guy Hudson, your interim CEO, the space he needs to make the necessary decisions and take action to begin restoring accountable senior leadership and trust among our caregivers and the community. I realize that not reaching out to you sooner has created additional concerns, a consequence I’ve wrestled with to respect the autonomy and independence Dr. Hudson needs.

My connection to Swedish runs deep. I know many of you personally, having served as CEO of Swedish from 2007 to 2012. I live in Seattle, just blocks from First Hill, and I proudly go to Swedish for my care. I am grateful and inspired by your unwavering commitment to the Culture of Safety we created together 10 years ago, when we all agreed to behaviors and practices that empower everyone to speak up for safety.

I recognize your voice has not always been heard in recent years. Breakdowns in senior leadership and communication have challenged the culture you all have worked so hard to uphold. But I am confident that with Dr. Hudson at the helm, Swedish now has the strong leadership it needs to rebuild trust and the Culture of Safety.

As you know, I now lead Providence St. Joseph Health, a seven-state not-for-profit health system made up of a diverse family of organizations, including 50 hospitals, 829 clinics and many other health and social services. I depend on strong, independent chief executives in all of our regions and partner organizations to make decisions in the best interest of their communities.

Because of my relationships and history with you, I find myself walking a fine line at Swedish between being too involved and not involved enough. I hear concerns in both directions. So it’s important that I reiterate my confidence in Dr. Hudson as your CEO and avoid confusion about our respective roles. Like our other chief executives, he has the autonomy and accountability to act on behalf of the community. And he has my full support.

One misconception I’d like to address is about who hired Dr. Johnny Delashaw. At the request of the Swedish Neuroscience Institute, he was initially hired by our chief clinical officer at the time, not me, and shortly afterwards, his employment was transferred to Swedish where he reported to the Swedish CEO.
Dr. Hudson is leading efforts with the Swedish Board of Trustees to improve and clarify the way Swedish and Providence work together. For Swedish to be successful, it must be nimble, flexible and independent. As we’ve transitioned and settled into the affiliation over the past five years, inevitable missteps have sometimes caused confusion and a sense of bureaucracy. However, one thing that has always been clear is that quality, safety, patient experience and credentialing can only be managed locally. These areas are and always have been the purview of the Swedish Board of Trustees, Swedish leadership and medical staff. I ask you all to support them as they continue this important work.

The affiliation is mutually beneficial. Swedish is an important partner for Providence St. Joseph Health. You provide specialty and sub-specialty services unavailable in many communities. You accept patients from throughout the Providence St. Joseph Health family no matter what their socio-economic background may be. You care for the sickest of the sick, regardless of ability to pay. Without you, many of the most vulnerable individuals in our communities would have nowhere else to go. You are both a world-class institution and a vital safety net.

At the same time, Providence St. Joseph Health offers stability and access to resources that benefit all our partner organizations. The Swedish Board and I originally agreed to the affiliation with an eye to the future. We knew health care would be forced to change dramatically, and we wanted to be ahead of the curve, not behind it. Today, we are in a stronger position together to care for the influx in the uninsured, and the growing Medicaid and Medicare population. We will continue to serve our communities even as government leaders in Washington, D.C., seek to change the Affordable Care Act and other aspects of health care.

I also want to address Talia’s family and her tragic outcome at the Cherry Hill campus three years ago. The situation was devastating for all involved, and my heart goes out to her loved ones and the team who cared for her. I was touched by what her mother wrote in her recent op-ed, and I agree with her. Despite our best efforts, unintended events occur at even the most respected institutions in the country. When they happen, we must learn from them and do everything in our power to help prevent them from happening again. That is what the team at Cherry Hill did immediately after this event.

A few years ago, my older daughter underwent brain surgery at a different institution not connected to Swedish or Providence St. Joseph Health (due to her insurance at the time). It was an emotional and distressing experience for our entire family. What was supposed to be a 90-minute surgery lasted seven hours and led to massive complications that put her in the ICU twice. At one point, my wife and I were told she wouldn’t make it. I thank God every day that she survived and is back to a normal life. The experience has given me a deep appreciation for how vulnerable families can feel in that situation and how much they count on us to protect their loved ones from harm.

I thank you for all you do for patients across the Puget Sound region and beyond. I know the pain and heartache of this chapter will not go away overnight. But I hope we can begin the process of healing as we learn from what’s happened and improve the way we work together.

Sincerely,
Rod

Rod Hochman, M.D.
President and CEO
Providence St. Joseph Health