Alliance pays off with better access | Commentary

As Valley Medical Center has reached the one-year anniversary of our Strategic Alliance with UW Medicine, I am pleased to report that we have already increased the availability of quality healthcare in our community.

In the July 2011 to July 2012 period, we have increased the clinical expertise and services available to our residents by expanding coverage at Valley in neurological surgery and thoracic surgery, expanding education and training through the UW emergency medicine residency, standardizing reporting for patient safety and quality, implementing a rapid process improvement program to reduce the costs of care and creating additional access to primary care, secondary care and highly specialized care when needed.

The coming year should bring expansion to oncology services, cardiology, urology, ophthalmology and several other clinical areas. Being a part of the UW Medicine system allows our physicians to have priority access to specialized care at UW Medicine when a patient needs urgent specialty services such as open heart surgery or organ transplant surgery.

In addition to the expansion of clinical services, we are working to reduce the overall cost of healthcare and to transform healthcare delivery. The recent Supreme Court decision on healthcare reform validates the concept of integrated delivery systems; a key component is readily available primary care. The combination of VMC’s clinics and UW Medicine’s Neighborhood Clinics has increased access to care in your neighborhoods and access to world class specialists when needed.

Valley Medical Center is committed to continuing the progress we have achieved in the first year of the Strategic Alliance. The shared mission to improve the health of the public has allowed VMC and the rest of UW Medicine to focus on expansion of services and alignment of best practices as we prepare for healthcare reform and the growing needs of our population.

The focus of the Board of Trustees, with eleven trustees living in the service area, is to provide oversight to the delivery of healthcare in our community. We will continue to provide progress reports to let you know when new services are added. Thank you for relying on Valley Medical Center for your healthcare.

Lisa Jensen is chair of the Valley Medical Center Board of Trustees.

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