Reassessing the Jefferson Healthcare & Providence relationship

Now that the Seattle Times has brought out a truly shocking series of articles (see other posts on this site)  on the neurosurgery unit of Providence/Swedish, the question is “What should Jefferson County’s hospital do about this?” We have a working relationship with these hospitals. From what I understand they send us doctors for certain shortages we face from time to time and we also are tied to their electronic records systems, called EPIC.

I have discussed with a number of medical professionals who have read the articles and they were in  agreement that this is more than a simple story that can be easily brushed over. To them it’s a deeply concerning one. Some of them said, “Yes, it’s been understood for years that the implementation of a numbers based goal for surgical units is going to drive more surgeries.” Jefferson Healthcare themselves uses the system, and evaluates their doctors on these units.

That the neurosurgery unit of Swedish Cherry Hill has been run like a machine on overdrive, churning through questionable surgeries for the sake of racking up maximum reimbursable value for the hospital and doctors themselves, should force us to discuss the future of the relationship with the Seattle hospital system with which we have allied ourselves. Would you want to see yourself or any loved one of yours sent there after reading this damning expose that took over a year to uncover?

I have a personal dog in this hunt. My best friend was in the neurosurgical unit at Cherry Hill during the last half of 2016, fighting multiple brain cancer sites and a chest tumor. He and his partner went through a great deal of stress over the pressures that the staff were putting on him to undergo more brain surgeries after he was deemed terminal. I told them to push back and discuss with the staff the quality of life issues that he would face one way or the other.They  finally found a doctor at the hospital  who sided with them against the surgical teams. Apparently there were heated words in meetings with the patient present about the choices being made. My friend died at home in January without undergoing further surgeries.

The Jefferson County Healthcare CEO Mike Glenn and the Hospital Board of Commissioners needs to take some time, but come forward and help us understand that they are concerned about this state of affairs and questions need to be asked as to whether our hospital should continue sending patients to Providence and Swedish Cherry Hill.

More thoughts on this issue will be forthcoming.


Reminder of the Providence/Swedish Affiliation

Given the Seattle Times investigative story, I thought it was worth it to revisit what the 2012 ‘Affiliation’ agreement between Providence and Swedish was all about. Here’s a story  on it.

Quantity of Care – A Lost Voice – Seattle Times special investigation

Another troubling story about Providence/Swedish’s neurosurgery unit.

After enduring years of painful headaches and injuries, Talia Goldenberg — a lively, uninhibited artist — was ready for surgery to help stabilize her flexible spine.

….But in the hours after Talia’s surgery, Jeff felt the medical staff was too dismissive about his daughter’s difficulty breathing. He found himself referencing his credentials to make it clear that he was more than just a nervous father.

It alarmed him that nobody was considering what would happen if Talia’s airway suddenly closed. He’d seen it before: In the late 1980s, when he was a young medical resident working an obstetrics rotation in Montreal, one of his co-workers was caring for a pregnant woman about Talia’s age. The woman had a cough that didn’t alarm the staff when she was first admitted. But while she was in labor, the woman went into respiratory arrest and died.

High Volume,Big Dollars,Rising Tension – Seattle Times Special Investigation on Providence

A very concerning look at neuroscience at Providence. I can attest to the story, but not from recent visits. If you or a loved one  are considering back or neck surgery at Providence you need to read this article. It is also worth reminding readers that Jefferson Health Care has a special arrangement with Providence, and for surgeries like these, is likely to send you to them. This is a troubling story for those of us relying on JHC and it’s linkage to them.

The Times spent a year examining more than 10,000 pages of records in four states, analyzing federal and state databases containing millions of records, and interviewing more than 100 people, including more than 30 current and former Cherry Hill medical staffers….

Internal records obtained by The Times, and interviews with current and former staffers, reveal an array of concerns communicated directly to the institution’s top administrators. The complaints include explicit warnings about inadequate patient care, inappropriate surgeries, poor documentation, a lack of accountability for postoperative complications and dubious decisions that resulted in patient harm and death.

Seattle Times Special investigation of Providence