ARLINGTON — The Cascade Valley Hospital and Clinics’ proposed affiliation with the PeaceHealth Medical Group has been called off, for the time being.
Cascade Valley and PeaceHealth have been seeking an affiliation since September of 2013, but the Cascade Valley Board asked PeaceHealth to release them from the talks July 17, after PeaceHealth requested an extension to the decision-making timeline.
“Due to the budget impacts of implementing Epic in PeaceHealth’s hospitals and clinics, they have decided to put on hold the affiliation with us at this time,” Cascade Valley Board Chairman Tim Cavanagh said. “PeaceHealth may re-engage with us in the future. Fortunately, we started this process early enough that we are in financial health and able to evaluate our options. We are well positioned to take the time we need to make the best next decision for Cascade Valley.”
Clark Jones, CEO of Cascade Valley, elaborated that the hospital had sought an affiliation partner to secure its ability to provide future healthcare services for its community.
“In the face of rapid change in our industry, including the shift to electronic medical records, change in the insurance industry and challenges in recruiting new physicians, the financial viability of a small, urban healthcare system is a real challenge,” Jones said.
Jones expects no operational changes to Cascade Valley at this time, but he did acknowledge the hospital’s need to refine its short- and long-term strategies in light of this change.
“The board and I haven’t even had a chance to sit down and talk about all of this yet, it’s still so new,” Jones said. “After we take a breather, we’ll discuss what our options are, since we didn’t really have a Plan B in place if this fell through.
“We have the time and the talent needed to continue seeking the right future in northern Snohomish County, so that we can continue providing excellent health care close to home,” he added.
Jones said such an affiliation is better for the hospital in the long run.
“In the meantime, what we can do it watch how the landscape shakes out, with an eye toward what’s in the best interests of the community,” Jones said. “This also hasn’t stopped our conversations with PeaceHealth. We remain in contact with them, and if their internal issues improve, we certainly won’t be burning our bridges there.”