Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

MultiCare finalizes purchase of local hospitals, Rockwood Clinic

Dr. David O’Brien, the new senior vice president and chief executive of MultiCare’s East Region, visits with Ellen Hall, patient care assistant, right, on the 10th floor of Deaconess Hospital on Friday. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)

MultiCare Health System will wrap up the $425 million purchase of Deaconess and Valley hospitals and Rockwood Clinic on Saturday, ushering in a new era for health care in the Spokane area.

The deal returns the two local hospitals to ownership by a nonprofit organization with Washington roots. Community leaders have enthusiastically supported the sale, which was approved by the state Department of Health earlier this month.

“We’re committed to it being a good thing for Spokane. That’s the journey – for us to make sure it’s outstanding for the Spokane region,” Bill Robertson, MultiCare’s president and chief executive, said in an earlier interview with The Spokesman-Review.

Tacoma-based MultiCare operates five hospitals and more than 130 clinics in the southern Puget Sound region. The nonprofit is Pierce County’s largest private employer, with annual revenues in the $2 billion range.

Top officials from MultiCare were at Deaconess and Valley hospitals on Friday and over the weekend to meet with employees, said Marce Edwards Olson, a company spokeswoman.

The purchase brings the tenure of Community Health Systems in Spokane to a close. Tennessee-based CHS is one of the nation’s largest for-profit hospital corporations, with more than 140 hospitals in 21 states. CHS bought Deaconess and Valley hospitals in 2008 and then purchased Rockwood Clinic in 2009 in a deal that shook up the local medical establishment.

Formerly independent Rockwood Clinic – the largest clinic in the region – began sending most of its patients to Deaconess and Valley hospitals. The move set off round after round of clinic purchases by competitor Providence Health Care.

The resulting consolidation to ensure hospitals had a steady stream of patient admissions happened amid national health reform efforts that resulted in the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

CHS was recently sued by Spokane-based Empire Health Foundation, which said the company short-changed the level of charity care it promised to provide to low-income patients during its ownership of the hospitals. CHS officials deny the allegations.

About 3,600 people work at Deaconess and Valley hospitals and a network of 12 Rockwood clinics, which operated as Rockwood Health System. Employees in good standing will remain after the sale, MultiCare has said.

MultiCare approached CHS about buying Rockwood Health last year, after the financially troubled company announced plans to sell off hospitals and clinics.

MultiCare wanted to expand its geographic reach, and viewed the Spokane-area institutions as a compatible fit with its mission and operations, officials said.

Dr. David O’Brien has been named the new senior vice president and chief executive of MultiCare’s East Region. He was previously a health care executive in California. O’Brien toured Deaconess Hospital on Friday.

Laureen Driscoll is the new president of Deaconess Hospital. She was formerly vice president of operations for MultiCare.

Greg Repetti will remain at Valley Hospital as the hospital’s president, and Monica Blykowski-May will be the interim president of Rockwood Clinic.