Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital and Virginia Mason Health System announced that their respective governing boards have signed a Letter of Intent to pursue a formal affiliation. The announcement signals that the two organizations will work exclusively to determine how and if a partnership might benefit both communities. Memorial CEO Russ Myers appeared on KIT 1280 on Tuesday, Nov. 11, 2014, to talk more about that agreement and what it means for the Yakima Valley.
Why is Memorial considering a partnership with a larger health care organization?
Partnerships in health care are occurring across the country as a way to improve service, lower costs and respond to health care reform. Our purpose is to provide the best care for our community – to inspire people to thrive. That means we need to consider options that allow us to improve the health of our population, improve the patient experience of care – including quality and satisfaction – and reduce the per capita cost of health care.
We view a partnership as an opportunity for Memorial Family of Services and Virginia Mason Health System to transform health care in the Yakima Valley and create a broader network of care that better serves both organizations’ communities.
Why Virginia Mason?
Memorial and Virginia Mason, both not-for-profit health care providers, share similar values and cultures and a commitment to innovation that can improve quality, safety and the total patient experience.
How might a partnership change how health care is delivered here?
The Memorial Board of Trustees views a strategic partnership as an opportunity for Memorial – and Yakima – to maintain access to high-quality healthcare, improve access to specialty care and advance physician recruitment. Such a partnership also ensures that state-of-the-art medicine continues in this community.
There are some areas – for instance, rheumatology – where specialists are in high demand and we have difficulty recruiting them to Yakima. This may present an opportunity to bring VM specialists here to provide these services. A partnership also could streamline the process for patients who simply must go to the west side for certain services.
How much local control will Memorial retain in a partnership?
The Letter of Intent identifies two potential boards. Memorial will retain a local governing board to carry out governance responsibilities at Memorial, with a majority of members appointed locally and some representatives appointed by Virginia Mason Health System. There also will be a Virginia Mason Health System board, with a limited number of board members who reside in the greater Yakima area.
It’s important to note, also, that The Memorial Foundation will retain its board and remain a separate non-profit entity. Money raised by the Foundation will remain in this local community, for local services and programs.
What’s the next step?
Memorial and Virginia Mason now enter a period of due diligence – basically, a deeper dive into the operations of each system to see how they might best align. We expect that process to take 4-6 months.
In the meantime, our focus does not change: delivering the best care to patients and families.