Providence Takeover Brings Change to Willamette Falls

Physicians will no longer perform tubal ligations unless medically necessary

May 28, 2009 -- A huge pot of money awaits Willamette Falls Hospital when it aligns with Providence Health & Services -- $55 million – for a new patient tower, recruiting physicians and expanding oncology and cardiology services. The hospital’s foundation will also receive a $3.5 million donation. 

Providence is taking those dollars out of its investment portfolio, said Dave Underriner, chief executive of the Providence Portland service area.
The merger between Providence and Willamette – located in Oregon City with medical offices throughout Clackamas County – awaits approval from the Attorney General and Federal Trade Commission.
Providence wasn’t the only contender when Willamette began looking for a partner in late 2007. Officials approached Legacy Health System, Portland Adventist and Oregon Health & Science University. In November, they entered into exclusive negotiations with Providence.
“Our hospital reached the breaking point,” Russ Reinhard, CEO of Willamette, told a overflow crowd on May 26. Market share was dropping; physician recruiting became difficult. “Our status quo wasn’t good anymore.”
As a Catholic institution, once Providence takes over the reins, physicians cannot perform tubal ligations unless they’re considered medically necessary, said Dr. Nancy Salisbury, medical staff president. Otherwise patients will have to seek care elsewhere. Willamette has never done abortions or participated in physician-aid-in-dying, she said.
When the deal closes, Providence has guaranteed employment to everyone working at Willamette. “Providence believes in keeping the community strong,” Reinhard said. “They’re critical to our success.”
Owning land in Happy Valley, Providence has long-term building plans, including a clinic and potentially another hospital.
Willamette Falls has 143 beds, a staff of 800, and a payroll of over $37 million.
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I am impressed by the quality of the publication over all. I would like to suggest a more skeptical appraisal of the use of the word "merger" to describe these types of acquisitions by Providence or other HealthCare systems whether they are for profit or not. This can be misleading for the average reader who sees a merger as a combination of leadership, ownership and philosophy. Willamette is being acquired and will become a fully integrated (assimilated) facility within Providence Health Systems. There will be no change or alteration of Providence leadership, owenership, or healthcare operating philosophy. Providence has many fine qualites as an organization and as a corporate citizen but they have a history of using the word "merger" to sell the public and employees on their take-over of organizations.