PeaceHealth Wins Affiliation with Two Northern Hospitals

peacehealth logoTwo Northern Puget Sound hospitals announced that they were going to negotiate affiliations with PeaceHealth, a Catholic health system, while a third decided against moving forward with the deal.

UW Medicine has already recently entered into a formal referral partnership with PeaceHealth and will benefit from these new affiliations. That agreement reinforced PeaceHealth’s appeal, said Tim Cavanaugh, a board member for Cascade Valley Hospital, which agreed to pursue the deal.

“The PeaceHealth/UW affiliation had a large enough network that they could help us with quality of care, availability of doctors and increasing the services in the community of Arlington,” said Cavanaugh. “Also, they are financially viable, which will help us moving forward.”

These are the latest planned associations between a secular and a Catholic health system. Catholic/secular affiliations have been scrutinized in this region, even as they become more prevalent.  The criticism is that Catholic health systems must adhere to religious teachings, which excludes care for abortions, right to die and birth control.

Recently, Governor Jay Inslee asked the state to examine the issue, and Attorney General Bob Ferguson recently released a legal opinion that public hospitals affiliated with Catholic systems must make those services, or their equivalents, available.

In addition to Cascade Valley, Skagit Valley Hospital agreed take steps to partner with PeaceHealth. Officials said it would take at least six months for the parties to reach a non-binding memorandum of understanding. Each hospital will negotiate a separate agreement with PeaceHealth. The plan was always for three smaller systems to join together to leverage their combined size and services to attract a bigger health system to affiliate, according to the Puget Sound Business Journal.

The ACLU estimates 47% of hospitals in Washington will be under Catholic control by the end of the year.