A New Chapter For Health Care In Walla Walla

Leaders from Adventist Health and Providence Health & Services have announced their intention to transfer control of Walla Walla General Hospital, Adventist Health Medical Group in Walla Walla and Adventist Health Home Care Services in Walla Walla to Providence this summer.

The decision to pursue this option comes on the heels of a changing industry that is calling hospitals everywhere to look at how to best allocate health care resources for the communities they serve.

“While the landscape of health care is being reshaped, it is important to continually meet the needs of the local community,” says Joyce Newmyer, President of Adventist Health Pacific Northwest Region and Board Chair of Walla Walla General Hospital. “We remain committed to our promise of being prudent stewards of the community’s resources while inspiring health, wholeness and hope to local residents.”

Upon closing of the proposed transaction, services at Walla Walla General Hospital, Providence St. Mary Medical Center and their medical groups will be re-envisioned to create one seamless, coordinated system of care operated by Providence under the Providence name.

Current Adventist Health patients do not need to take any action for the continuation of their health care. The goal is to make the transition as seamless as possible for patients. Doctors and other providers currently employed by Adventist Health in Walla Walla will continue to see patients during the transition.

“The demand for health care in this community doesn’t change as a result of this,” says Elaine Couture, chief executive officer for Providence Health & Services in Eastern Washington. “It is Providence’s goal to keep doctors, advanced practitioners and other caregivers in the community.”

Health care workers will be needed to staff both campuses. And while there may be some staff reductions, Providence’s intent is to employ a significant number of Adventist Health employees.

The transfer is not a sale. It is technically termed a “membership substitution”. Adventist Health will transfer membership control of Walla Walla General Hospital, including Adventist Health Medical Group in Walla Walla and Home Care Services in Walla Walla, to Providence. In turn, Providence will assume operation of the campus and disburse $14 million over 24 years into a specially created fund with the Providence St. Mary Foundation that will be used to further the health care needs of the Walla Walla community. The fund will be directed by Adventist Health.

“Adventist Health’s commitment to the mission throughout Walla Walla remains strong,” says Newmyer. “What will change is the way in which we will implement this moving forward. Instead of a hospital-based bricks and mortar model, Adventist Health will have resources available to fund innovative initiatives that build on our Adventist Health legacy of wellness and prevention. It will be a fresh expression of our mission that provides a way for us to live out our commitment to serve the people of this community. And while the details of how this will look are still in the formative stage, the possibilities for innovation are quite promising for the community.”

Both Walla Walla General Hospital and Providence St. Mary were founded over 100 years ago in this valley, and have made sizable investments in facilities and medical capabilities over the years. In addition, both have a long history of charitable care and working to improve the overall health of the community through outreach and education. Although they come from different faith traditions, they both work to carry forward the healing ministry of Jesus by providing physical, mental and spiritual healing, and to ensure that the most vulnerable in our communities have access to care.

“Adventist Health and Providence believe this is the right thing to do for the community,” Couture says. “Patients visiting each campus in the future will have one medical record for greater continuity of care, improving communication between health care providers and eliminating the need for repeated tests. None of the buildings will be shuttered. Both campuses will be put to their best use to deliver health care to the community.”

“We remain grateful for a community who has entrusted us with their care, employees who excel at delivering compassionate quality services, physicians who are laser focused on what is best for their patients, and volunteers who passionately share their time and resources,” says Newmyer. “This is a time for fresh thinking about what the future of health care could look like in Walla Walla.”

Officials at Adventist Health and Providence are working toward a closing of the proposed transaction sometime in early summer, subject to the satisfaction of all conditions to close. Meanwhile, both organizations remain committed to stewardship and preserving quality care for the Walla Walla community.

About Providence Health & Services

Providence Health & Services is committed to improving the health of the communities it serves, especially for those who are poor and vulnerable. In 2016, Providence provided nearly $1.2 billion in community benefit to help meet the needs of its communities, both today and into the future. Providence Health & Services is a part of Providence St. Joseph Health, a family of organizations that includes 50 hospitals, 829 physician clinics, senior services, supportive housing and many other health and educational services. The health system and its partners employ more than 100,000 caregivers serving communities across seven states – Alaska, California, Montana, New Mexico, Oregon, Texas and Washington. Along with Saint Joseph Health, PSJH includes: in Texas, Covenant Health and Covenant Medical Group; in California, Facey Medical Foundation, Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian and St. Joseph Heritage Healthcare; and in Washington, Kadlec Regional Medical Center, Pacific Medical Centers and Swedish Health Services.

Providence St. Mary Medical Center, a 142-bed regional hospital located in Walla Walla, Wash., is the fourth largest employer in Walla Walla County. The Providence Medical Group is the largest group of primary care providers and specialists in the Walla Walla area.

About Adventist Health

Adventist Health is a faith-based, nonprofit integrated health system serving more than 75 communities in California, Hawaii, Oregon and Washington. Our workforce of 32,700 includes more than 23,400 employees; nearly 5,000 medical staff physicians; and 4,300 volunteers. Founded on Seventh-day Adventist heritage and values, Adventist Health provides compassionate care in 20 hospitals, more than 260 clinics (hospital-based, rural health and physician clinics), 15 home care agencies, seven hospice agencies and four joint-venture retirement centers. Adventist Health ranked #10 in Becker’s list of the largest nonprofit hospital systems in the U.S.

Walla Walla General Hospital, a member of Adventist Health, is a licensed 72-bed acute-care hospital located at the base of the Blue Mountains serving residents of Southeastern Washington and Northeastern Oregon. The hospital includes a comprehensive cardiac program, an Accredited Chest Pain Center, Level III trauma center, surgical services, rehabilitation, sleep lab and ancillary services. Adventist Health Medical Group Clinics and a home health agency are also affiliated with the hospital.