More changes could be ahead for the area’s health providers as Yakima Valley Memorial officials announced Monday that they have signed a letter of intent to explore joining the MultiCare Health System.
In a news release, Memorial officials said the two organizations will conduct a due diligence process over the next two months to determine if the merger would advance both organizations’ missions, expand local access to health care and improve the quality of care for the Yakima Valley community.
“Over the past two years, Memorial has successfully navigated the closure of Astria, the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and an increasingly costly and complex health care environment,” Memorial CEO Carole Peet said. “We are now evaluating a new strategy to guarantee continued access to outstanding local health care for our community for decades to come.”
Memorial and MultiCare have a shared goal of ensuring that high-quality health care remains locally accessible, the news release stated.
“Joining MultiCare would allow Memorial to accelerate its ability to invest in new programs; implement an integrated electronic health record; and provide a sustainable future for Yakima’s only hospital,” the news release stated.
Memorial officials believe joining MultiCare strengthens YVM’s role as the leading health care hub in Central Washington.
Headquartered in Tacoma, MultiCare is a not-for-profit, secular health care system established in 1882. It is the largest locally owned health system in the state, and its network of care includes 11 hospitals and hundreds of clinics in both the Puget Sound and Inland Northwest region.
The potential relationship would build upon a 2021 partnership between the two organizations to help expand oncology services in Yakima County, the news release stated.
“The successful, ongoing partnership MultiCare has formed with Memorial in relation to oncology services – as well as similar partnerships with other health care organizations over the years – demonstrate MultiCare’s strong commitment to creating local health care hubs that serve residents close to home,” the Yakima hospital’s news release stated.
“Exploring this relationship is in line with MultiCare’s mission of partnering for healing and a healthy future,” said Bill Robertson, CEO of MultiCare. “We believe that it is of critical importance for communities across our region to have access to the health care they need, in those communities.
“I’m hopeful that our two organizations will find ways to work together to ensure that patients and their families in the Yakima Valley have access to a full complement of services close to home for many years to come,” Robertson added.
The letter of intent announced Monday begins a two-month period for both organizations to share information to determine if they are strategically and operationally aligned. At the end of this period, Memorial and MultiCare will announce their decision.
Yakima Valley Memorial is a health care system that includes Yakima’s only acute-care center, a 226-bed, nonprofit, community hospital serving Central Washington’s Yakima Valley.
Yakima Valley Memorial ended a four-year affiliation with the Virginia Mason Health System in late 2020, opting to become an independent, local health care system. The move came as Virginia Mason merged with CHI Franciscan.
MultiCare has been involved with other health care organizations in the Yakima Valley.
MultiCare previously assisted Astria Health with a $75 million loan to help the organization out of bankruptcy. Astria, which closed Regional hospital in Yakima in January 2020, operates hospitals in Toppenish and Sunnyside.
MultiCare also has a partnership with Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences in Yakima, and pledged $8 million to expand the campus in 2021.
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