Empire Health pulls out of INHS

Providence makes $40 million donation to the Empire Health Foundation to expand its mission

EHF and Providence logosThe Empire Health Foundation (EHF) Board of Directors has reached agreement to discontinue its role as a member of Inland Northwest Health Services (INHS), making Providence the sole member of INHS. Providence will make a $40 million donation to the foundation as part of this membership restructure. The membership restructure will be completed by the end of the year.

“This is a win for the health of our communities in eastern Washington,” says Antony Chiang, EHF President. “This means the foundation can focus on its mission and expand its investment in ideas and organizations that improve access to health care, education, research and public policy that will result in a healthier region. And, this restructuring strengthens INHS’ role in providing vital health care services to the community,” continues Chiang.

EHF filled an important role during the transition of INHS’ original membership model – a joint collaboration by Providence Sacred Heart and Holy Family and the former not-for-profit owner of Deaconess and Valley hospitals. In 2011, the new owner of Deaconess and Valley hospitals, Community Health Systems, agreed to restructure the membership of INHS and transition its membership in INHS to the Empire Health Foundation – the foundation formed in 2008 following the sale of Deaconess and Valley hospitals to Community Health Systems. At that time Providence Health Care became the majority member of INHS.

INHS, with more than 1000 employees, has built a successful, financially-sound organization serving Inland Northwest communities for nearly 20 years. In 1994, the two not-for-profit hospital systems in Spokane – Sacred Heart and Holy Family along with Empire Health Service (Deaconess and Valley hospitals) – founded a collaboration called Inland Northwest Health Services.

The collaboration was established to more efficiently manage the critical care transport (Northwest MedStar) and rehabilitation services (St. Luke’s Rehabilitation Institute) for both hospital systems. The next development was a common medical record platform to be used by hospitals and providers in Spokane and throughout the Inland Northwest. Information Resource Management (IRM) was established as a division of INHS in 1996. Other major services by INHS include Northwest TeleHealth, Community Wellness, Health Training, and the Eastern Washington Center of Occupational Health & Education (COHE).

“Since INHS was formed, Providence has been a strong and supportive member of our organization,” says Tom Fritz, chief executive officer of INHS. “Now as our sole member, Providence demonstrates its ongoing commitment to INHS and strengthens our ability to expand services and grow even more jobs for the Spokane community.” For example, while IRM continues to grow its business nationally, they will play an important role in the expansion of Providence’s community electronic medical record system to more than 100 hospitals across its five-state region.

INHS will continue to provide services to all other hospitals, providers and communities throughout the Inland Northwest. INHS will continue as a separate not-for-profit corporation, and the INHS Board of Directors – which includes community representatives – will maintain its governance responsibilities.

“INHS is a vital community asset,” says Elaine Couture, chief executive of Providence Health Care. “During this time of dramatic change in health care as national and state level reform initiatives are implemented, Spokane must take a leadership role in transforming the health care system for the future by developing new models of care that reduce the cost of care, improve access, enhance quality and the patient care experience,” continues Couture. “The INHS Board, its leadership, and Providence believe that providers and consumers across the region will be best served through closer alignment of INHS and Providence. Our commitment is to continue to make the vital services INHS delivers across the Inland Northwest available and accessible to all, especially the poor and the vulnerable.”