St. Mary and Kadlec medical centers join under secular umbrella

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WALLA WALLA — A local hospital is now affiliated with Kadlec Health System in Tri-Cities.

Providence St. Mary Medical Center announced Tuesday its parent, Providence Health & Services, signed an agreement that brings Kadlec under the umbrella of Western HealthConnect, a secular organization formed to allow Providence to remain Catholic and non-religious affiliates to remain secular, according to a news release.

Kadlec was established in 1944 to care for Hanford workers and their families. Since then it has grown into a regional medical center, according to the hospital’s website.

The partnership will increase access to services and inpatient care at Kadlec, helping meet the needs in Tri-Cities and surrounding communities, hospital officials said. As well, it gives Providence its first physical footprint in that area.

For Walla Walla residents, some of whom get care in the Tri-Cities for various reasons, benefit will come from a deeper collaboration between St. Mary and Kadlec, according to Joel Gilbertson, senior vice president of community partnerships for Providence.

While the “roll up our sleeves and see how that looks” time is not yet at hand, the partnership will deliver better outcomes at lower cost, he added.

Rand Wortman, Kadlec Health System president and chief executive officer, said in the release the health care industry is facing unprecedented change.

“While Kadlec currently is in a strong, stable position, we recognize the current delivery and financing of health care is not sustainable, and significant pressures will be placed upon stand-alone hospitals and their clinicians to manage the health of entire populations,” he said. “We have a responsibility and a need to reduce the cost of health care. Our board of directors believes the best way to ensure a viable not-for-profit health care system for the region indefinitely into the future is to affiliate with a partner like Providence.”

Kadlec will not become a Catholic organization and no changes are planned for its reproductive health services, which do not include elective abortions. As well, the Tri-Cities facility will continue to decline to fill prescriptions for lethal medications under the state’s Death with Dignity law.

Governance of Kadlec will be shared by its community board and Providence’s WesternHealthConnect. Local fundraising efforts at Kadlec will continue through the hospital’s foundation and money raised will be used for local services, officials of both hospitals said in a press conference.

Sheila Hagar can be reached at sheilahagar@wwub.com or 526-8322.

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