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Questions & Answers

Q: What’s happening?

A: Leaders from Adventist Health and Providence Health & Services have announced their intention to transfer control of Walla Walla General Hospital, Adventist Health Medical Group in Walla Walla and Adventist Health Home Care Services in Walla Walla to Providence this summer. The timing will depend on the pace of the transaction. It could occur as soon as July 1, 2017. Work then would begin to integrate services at the two campuses under Providence. Leaders anticipate the work will take many months.

Q: Is this a sale?

A: No. It is technically termed a “membership substitution.” This is a fairly common transaction between nonprofit health care systems. Essentially, it means that Adventist Health will transfer control of Walla Walla General Hospital, Adventist Health Medical Group in Walla Walla, and Adventist Health Home Care Services in Walla Walla to Providence. Providence will assume operations, and contribute $14 million over 24 years into a specially created Adventist Health Legacy Fund within the Providence St. Mary Foundation. The fund will be used to further the health care needs of the Walla Walla community as determined by Adventist Health. The fund becomes the avenue that Adventist Health will use to maintain a continued presence in the Walla Walla Valley, and to further its mission of advancing health and wellness.

Q: What action should Adventist Health patients take for continuation of their health care?

A: Current Adventist Health patients do not need to take any action. The goal for patients is to make the transition as seamless as possible. Doctors and other providers currently employed by Adventist Health in Walla Walla will continue to see patients during the transition.

Q: Why did Adventist Health choose Providence?

A: It is important to both organizations to be good stewards of health care resources. After great reflection Adventist Health believed that, corporate sponsorship/membership substitution offered the greatest stewardship of the community’s health care resources. The result will be a stronger health care delivery system for Walla Walla. Providence was a natural partner because of proximity and mission. Adventist Health and Providence are both faith-based ministries. Both have a long history of charitable care and working to improve the overall health of the community through outreach and education. Although they come from different faith traditions, they both work to carry forward the healing ministry of Jesus by providing physical, mental and spiritual healing, and to ensure that the most vulnerable in our communities have access to care.

Q: How will the mission of Adventist Health be preserved?

A: Adventist Health’s commitment to the mission in Walla Walla remains strong. What will change is the way in which it will implement its mission moving forward. Instead of a hospital-based, brick-and-mortar model, Adventist Health will have resources through the Adventist Health Legacy Fund to drive innovative initiatives that build on its legacy of wellness and prevention. While the details of how this will look are still in the formative stage, the possibilities for innovation are promising.

Q: Both of these hospitals are over 100 years old. Why is this happening now?

A: The decision to pursue this option comes on the heels of a changing industry that is calling hospitals everywhere to look at how to best allocate health care resources for the communities they serve. A new approach is needed.

Q: Will Adventist Health Walla Walla General Hospital be renamed?

A: Yes. Since it will no longer be an Adventist facility, the name must be changed to represent that it will be a Providence facility. A new name has not yet been selected.

Q: Does the transaction require regulatory approval?

A: Regulatory approval is not required for a membership substitution.

Q: How will this benefit the community?

The benefits of having one health care system include:

  • It creates a coordinated health care system in the Walla Walla Valley under Providence, allowing services to be expanded and made more efficient.
  • It will improve stewardship of resources, and allow further resources to be reinvested in broadening the breadth, depth and reach of services offered in the community.
  • Patients will benefit from a seamless continuum of care in this region.
  • Patients visiting each campus in the future will have one hospital electronic medical record for greater continuity of care, improving communication between health care providers and eliminating the need for repeated tests.
  • None of the buildings will be shuttered. Both campuses will be put to their best use to deliver health care to the community.
  • Growth is expected in a number of services.

Q: Adventist Health also has a partnership with Wheatland Village, the retirement facility behind Walla Walla General Hospital. Is Wheatland Village becoming part of Providence?

A: Wheatland Village is not included in the proposed transaction.

Q: Adventist Health operates the Walla Walla University Health Center. What is the plan for the Health Center?

A: Adventist Health currently operates the Health Center at the invitation of Walla Walla University. If it is the desire of Walla Walla University for Providence to operate the clinic, Providence is open to doing so.

Q: Will Adventist-Health-employed providers have the opportunity to join Providence?

A: The needs and demand for health care in this community don’t change as a result of this transaction. It is Providence’s goal to keep doctors, advance practitioners and other caregivers in the community.

Q. Will Adventist Health staff have the opportunity to join Providence?

A: Health care professionals will be needed on both campuses. The number of people in the community who need care isn’t changing in the immediate future. While there may be some reductions, Providence’s intent is to employ a significant number of Adventist Health staff. There are hundreds of positions on the Walla Walla General campus alone that must be maintained.

Q: How many people currently are employed on both campuses?

A: Providence employs 1,153 people in Walla Walla. Adventist Health employs 439.

Q: What will be the process for Adventist Health employees to join Providence?

A: After we’ve signed the definitive agreement with respect to the proposed transaction, Adventist Health employees will receive more detailed information on Providence roles, benefits and the steps to take for the transition to Providence employment. Teams of Human Resources staff will be working with them to make it as smooth of a transition as possible.

Q: Can Adventist Health employees apply for jobs that Providence already has posted, in advance of the transition?

A: Yes. Providence is following its normal employment processes. Anyone who is interested in jobs currently posted can apply, including employees from Adventist Health.

Q: Is Providence freezing all currently posted positions until the transition?

A: No. Providence is following its normal employment processes for all jobs that have already been posted.

Q. As an Adventist employee, what should I do between now and the closing of the transaction?

A: Continue to provide great care for your patients, as you always have.

Q: Can employees and providers of Adventist Health and Providence reach out to each other to discuss aspects of the transition or future plans?

A: No. We cannot discuss what our future may look like. Until the transition is completed, our employees and providers cannot contact each other aside from what has been normal communication in the past for patients’ medical needs such as patient transfers, except to the extent authorized in advance by legal counsel.

Q: When will we know more?

A: The timeline is somewhat fluid, so we cannot provide exact dates. However, both organizations are committed to providing updates every step along the way to keep the community, providers and employees informed.