by Kristen Glundberg-Prossor, Media Relations Director
Swedish Health Services (SHS) and Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest (PPGNW) announced on October 14 that Planned Parenthood will establish a health center on Seattle’s First Hill in order to provide women in the area a full range of reproductive health services, including abortion.
Swedish has asked PPGNW to place a health center in the Nordstrom Tower, within Swedish’s First Hill campus, in order to easily refer women and men in need of reproductive health services out of their health system and into the PPGNW office.
This unique agreement comes with Swedish and Providence’s recent announcement of their intent to form an alliance. Their decision is based on mutual financial necessity in the rapidly changing health care environment. Although their alliance is not a classic “merger,” Swedish, out of respect for the affiliation with Providence, will discontinue certain services, including elective abortion services.
It’s no surprise that Swedish would approach Planned Parenthood to help solve access issues. Planned Parenthood is the largest reproductive health provider in the Northwest and has strong relationships with community hospitals. For over 40 years Planned Parenthood doctors and nurse practitioners have provided essential family planning and abortion care training to residents and other providers at Swedish, Group Health, UW Medical Center, Providence, and others.
“Swedish is deeply committed to ensuring women have access to comprehensive care,” said Jane Ulhir, MD, Swedish Medical Director. “It is important to maintain the access to care our patients currently receive as well as the proximity of services they have come to expect. We chose Planned Parenthood because they are experts in the efficient delivery of reproductive health care.”
Swedish will continue to provide the full range of contraception services, tubal ligations, and vasectomies, as well as provide appropriate services as required by women in an emergency situation. Swedish emergency rooms will continue to be staffed and equipped to handle the needs of the community.
This agreement also makes certain there are no fewer doctors in Seattle capable of providing services than before as Swedish doctors will be credentialed to work in the Planned Parenthood health center. In fact, there are other excellent providers of abortion services in and around First Hill. PPGNW expects to continue our excellent relationship with those providers. Swedish staff are free to refer patients to any provider they wish.
“We began working with Swedish to ensure care for their patients as the affiliation discussions with Providence progressed,” said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest. “We commend Swedish for their leadership in maintaining the continuity of care for their patients. Through this agreement, we’ve ensured that every woman will get the services she needs, in a respectful, supportive way.”
In other instances where secular and Catholic hospital systems have merged, the response has been to give a lump sum to the local Planned Parenthood to handle reproductive health care for the community. In this situation, Swedish has invited Planned Parenthood on to their medical campus, have volunteered to work shoulder to shoulder with Planned Parenthood to make sure women are served, and demanded that Planned Parenthood commit to a 10 year minimum in the location, securing an ongoing solution to access.
Anticipated to open in early 2012, the new center will be located on First Hill, in the Nordstrom Tower, and will be called the First Hill Health Center of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest. Swedish will help underwrite the costs to establish the PPGNW health center.