Update: Layoffs Likely, Specifics Not Yet Available, Swedish Medical Center Says

The hospital system told employees Monday it is losing $250,000 a day; it's not clear yet just how workers at the Swedish Issaquah campus would be affected by layoffs.

Update March 20: Swedish Medical Center Spokesman Ed Boyle told Patch today that just how staffing might change at Swedish Issaquah has not yet been determined. Though documents sent to staff yesterday (attached to this article as PDF files) indicate that the Issaquah Hospital campus volumes are increasing at the projected rate, volumes across the Swedish health care system have dropped since the Issaquah campus was planned and are currently 8 percent lower than budgeted, while staffing is higher than a year ago.

Boyle told Patch in an email: 

As today’s Seattle’s Times article pointed out, we are working on a plan for cost reductions. Like health-care providers everywhere, Swedish continues to be challenged by the economy and changes in health-care funding. We continue to be affected by a higher number of patients who are not commercially insured, as well as a rise in uncompensated care. We are also being impacted by cuts in health-care funding. In addition, our patient volumes are – and have been – low across the Swedish system. As a result, we need to adjust our costs accordingly. Despite needing to make some tough decisions, Swedish remains committed to maintaining the highest level of quality care for patients. 

Original story: Swedish Medical Center told employees that it is facing dire financial circumstances and layoffs are likely, the Seattle Times reports.

It's not clear yet how many employees at its newest campus, Swedish Issaquah, would be affected by layoffs, but the cost of the center figures into Swedish's large debt.

In 2011, Swedish's hospitals, clinics and ambulatory-care centers had patient revenues of $1.825 billion before $1.89 billion total expenses, according to preliminary figures supplied by Swedish.

Those figures include two months of operations from its newest hospital, Swedish/Issaquah.

According to the Times, Swedish CEO Kevin Brown said patient volumes and revenues are significantly lower than Swedish had projected. Last month, the healthcare provider announced it will be closing its underperforming visiting nurses program in April, which will include layoffs of 216 employees.

"Given the extent of our financial losses, we will need to make some very difficult decisions in the next few weeks," Swedish Spokeswoma Melissa Tizon told the Tiimes. "We will need to reduce all of our costs, and that will likely include reducing staffing to match current volumes."

Swedish Health Services is made up of five hospital campuses (First Hill, Cherry Hill, Ballard, Edmonds and Issaquah); ambulatory-care centers in Redmond and Mill Creek; and Swedish Medical Group — a network of more than 100 primary-care and specialty clinics throughout the Puget Sound area.

Early next month, Swedish plans to launch a comprehensive Multiple Sclerosis treatment center at its Cherry Hill campus in Seattle. It will be a new $4+ million, 11,700-square-foot center dedicated solely to the ongoing treatments and research of the autoimmune disease.


Clyde Nordgren March 20, 2012 at 07:40 PM
You talk about employee lay offs and then in same paragraph your spending 4million dollars at the same time to do construction for a new center!!Doesnt seem like you care about the employees getting layed off by plans to build more, the same way you got into this dollar problem this time?
Jeanne Gustafson March 21, 2012 at 04:35 PM
I appreciate your comment, Clyde. I will say that given that the fiscal problems really became apparent with losses the last three months of 2011, the MS center was probably well under way at that time, and this is an area with a high rate of MS cases, so the argument could also be made that the new center will increase volume at Swedish. I'm not saying I know that's how it will play out, just a thought.


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