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AUGUST 4, 1997

Business

Evergreen, Swedish move one step closer to affiliation

  NW News staff
   The boards of Evergreen Community Health Care and Swedish Medical Center recently announced the signing of a memorandum of understanding to form a new regional healthcare system. The organizations have been discussing some type of tighter partnership for several months.
  
   Under the agreement, the two organizations would form a new, not-for-profit joint-venture company that would lease and operate the Evergreen and Swedish facilities. The partners would cooperate in some key areas while maintaining their autonomy in others. The new company, which has not yet been named, would be responsible for such things as strategic planning, program development, budgeting and contracting.
  
   The new company will be governed by a nine-member board. Four of those members will be appointed by Swedish, two by Evergreen and three will be appointed at-large by other board members. Board members have yet to be named.
  
   By forming a regional health-care system, the organizations hope to more effectively compete for contracts to provide health care coverage on a regional basis and take advantage of opportunities for sharing the costs of support services such as purchasing, information services and patient billing. They also intend to collaborate on new technologies and services to better meet community health needs, and to build programs between urban and suburban communities.
  
   "Forming this partnership will provide us with the opportunity to share expertise and equipment on a regional basis," said Andrew Fallat, chief executive officer of Evergreen. "But it won't take away from our commitment to the communities we serve. We will continue to offer a range of services in our respective markets and will work hard to meet the needs of our individual communities."
  
   While there are no immediate plans to do so, the two organizations may consider adding additional partners over time. The next steps in the affiliation process are filing a certificate of need and signing a definitive agreement, which could take several months. The new joint operating company should be operational by mid-1998.