Providence CEO takes out an ad to apologize for Swedish Health issues

The event, "Repositioning a Hotel for Success," will take place April 20, 2017, in Seattle.
“I am ultimately accountable for the successes and mistakes of the hospitals in our system,” said Providence St. Joseph Health CEO Rod Hochman, M.D., in a public apology.

The CEO of Providence St. Joseph Health has issued a public apology to employees and patients of Swedish Health.

In a full-page ad in the Seattle Times, Providence St. Joseph Health CEO Rod Hochman, M.D., made his first public statement about a range of issues in Swedish-Cherry Hill’s neuroscience unit brought to light by the newspaper’s previous investigation.

The newspaper reported that after Providence acquired Swedish, it sought to increase revenues by implementing measures that would provide incentives to surgeons to perform high-risk, high-cost procedures in high volume. The increased number of procedures spurred hospital revenues to $500 million in net operating revenue and an exceptionally high number of Medicare reimbursements per inpatient stay in 2015. It also burned out medical staff members, subjected patients to more invasive surgeries than necessary, and produced “high rates of blood clots, collapsed lungs and serious surgical complications,” per the investigation.

Hospital leaders reportedly suppressed warnings from hospital staff, leading to the resignation of more than 60 individuals in a two-year period, the Times reports. High-profile resignations followed the publication of the paper’s initial investigation, including those of former Swedish CEO Tony Armada and Johnny Delashaw, M.D., a star surgeon at the hospital.

Hochman's ad represents an about-face from as recently as last week, the newspaper reported, when he insisted local managers were responsible for quality and safety issues.

“I am ultimately accountable for the successes and mistakes of the hospitals in our system,” Hochman wrote in the ad. “You deserved better from us—and from me.”

The recent rise in hospital mergers and acquisitions has led to questions around whether standardization of care and increased care volume can improve patients’ standard of care, or whether they provide an opportunity for hospitals to jack up costs while quality declines.