Valley Medical, UW Medicine deal likely to go to Valley's board in early April
By DEAN RADFORD
Renton Reporter Editor
March 10, 2011 · 5:53 PM
The Valley Medical Center commissioners likely will receive in early April a final agreement to consider to form a strategic alliance with UW Medicine.
The commissioners received a lengthy briefing Monday evening from the medical center’s lead negotiator and corporate counsel, George Beal.
UW Medicine presented an initial 18-page draft to the Valley Medical team, which responded in a 50-page document, Beal said.
The deadline to either accept or reject the alliance is May 31, a deadline set by UW Medicine. UW Medicine trustees and the University of Washington Board of Trustees also must approve the alliance.
Beal explained to members they will have the chance to review the agreement at two special meetings and at a third meeting at which they can cast their votes.
However, what they won’t have is the ability to negotiate the deal themselves or receive any communications exchanged between negotiators on both sides during the talks, Beal told them.
Commissioners Aaron Heide and Anthony Hemstad both asked Beal to receive communications from the two sides regarding what’s being discussed.
“It seems reasonable,” Hemstad said, to know what’s being discussed.
However, that’s outside the normal process to negotiate such deals, Beal said, and it was pointed out the letter of intent authorizing the vetting of the alliance gives responsibility for the negotiations to the medical center’s administration.
As if to head off potential criticism in the future, Beal said, “I don’t want any suggestion this is behind closed doors.”
Beal offered to meet privately with any commissioner to review the negotiations.
Beal also spent several minutes reviewing a letter Heide had sent to local media and to state Attorney General Rob McKenna and offering the hospital administration’s response to it.
Heide called the alliance – on the surface – an “incredible opportunity.” However, he said, the process by which trustees would be appointed to a new 13-member oversight board was an attempt “to circumvent our democratic process.”
He maintained that the medical center’s administrators, including Rich Roodman, would be “deeply involved” in appointing the eight non-elected appointees. Both Beal and Roodman pointed out that throughout their presentations to the board and the public that it was clear UW Medicine would make those appointments.
Now, also part of that process is that the mayors of Renton, Kent, Newcastle and Covington will make recommendations to UW Medicine about possible appointees.
Heide wrote that hospital administrators wanted to appoint the members in advance of a November election to replace Don Jacobson, who is part of a three-member voting majority on the board. In his view, they feared another “reform” commissioner would win and Roodman could lose his job.
Heide said his intent was not to stop the process, but he just wanted to ensure the public has a say. However, it also was pointed out that the public elects the commissioners to make such decisions for them.
Monday's commissioners meeting lasted for about three hours.
Jim Schneider, chief of the Valley Regional Fire Authority, and Jim Fogarty, chief of King County Medic One which provides the region's paramedic service, were invited to speak about the alliance's potential impact on emergency services.
Schneider said the alliance is "all about patient care." Local fire crews, he said, have always had a "positive relationship" with Valley Medical Center.
Based on the creation of the regional fire authority, he said, citizens are expecting regionalization of services for their economies of scale.
Fogarty pointed out that Valley's new emergency room could become a Level 2 trauma center, which would mean enhanced trauma care at its ER.Contact Renton Reporter Editor Dean Radford at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-425-255-3484 (ext 5050).