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

MultiCare’s entry into Spokane medical scene gets support from local leaders

Both MultiCare Deaconess Hospital, left, and Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center, right, seen here in this March 2013 photo, have complied with a new federal rule that requires medical care providers to post their pricing online in spreadsheet form. But the rule is seen as just an incremental step in giving patients the information they need to be informed consumers. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)

Spokane’s business and civic leaders are backing MultiCare Health System’s $425 million purchase of Deaconess and Valley hospitals and Rockwood Clinic.

The state Department of Health has received 23 public comments on the pending acquisition by Tacoma-based MultiCare.

The city of Spokane, Spokane Valley and area businesses sent letters supporting the purchase, which is expected to be finalized at the end of June. Many of the letters mentioned MultiCare’s Washington roots and its nonprofit status.

MultiCare operates five hospitals and more than 130 clinics in the South Puget Sound region. Deaconess, Valley and Rockwood are currently owned by Tennessee-based Community Health Systems, one of the nation’s larger for-profit hospital owners. The company is selling some hospitals and clinics to pay down debt.

SEIU Healthcare 1199NW, which represents 28,000 nurses and other healthcare workers in Washington, also supported the purchase, praising MultiCare’s commitment to quality of care.

Providence Health System, which owns Holy Family Hospital and Sacred Heart Medical Center and Children’s Hospital in Spokane, took a neutral stance.

Providence officials said they hoped state regulators would require MultiCare to provide charity care to low-income and uninsured patients at rates that meet or exceed the Washington state average.

In MultiCare’s application, officials said the health system supports the statewide voluntary pledge of all hospitals to provide a minimum level of charity care.

Bill Roberston, MultiCare’s CEO, said in an earlier interview that he expects the state’s regulatory review of the purchase to wrap up on June 22. The sale is expected to close June 30, allowing a smooth transition for patients and workers, he said.

Deaconess, Valley and Rockwood Clinic employ about 3,500 people. Robertson reiterated that all employees in good standing at the time of the sale will keep their jobs.

Banner Bank, Avista, STCU and Cancer Care Northwest were among the local businesses who wrote letters in support of the MultiCare purchase.

Stacey Cowles, The Spokesman-Review’s publisher, wrote a letter supporting the deal on behalf of Greater Spokane Incorporated, where he is a member of the board of directors for the regional business advocacy group.