MultiCare to buy 2 Spokane-area hospitals, dozens of clinics for $425 million

MultiCare is buying two Spokane County hospitals, the Tacoma healthcare nonprofit announced Thurdsay night.
MultiCare is buying two Spokane County hospitals, the Tacoma healthcare nonprofit announced Thurdsay night. Staff file, 2013

MultiCare Health System is buying two Spokane County hospitals as part of a $425 million acquisition, the company announced Thursday evening.

The Tacoma-based nonprofit health care company is buying Deaconess Hospital in Spokane and Valley Hospital in Spokane Valley, along with the Rockwood clinics, a large chain of primary, specialty and urgent care clinics in the Inland Northwest.

This is the first time MultiCare has an on-the-ground presence east of the Cascades, CEO and President Bill Robertson said Thursday evening.

“We have a broader vision and a broader strategy of the organization to expand our ability to care for people across the state — we take care of people where people are,” Robertson said. “We’re going to be in the second-largest population center, Spokane, when this transaction closes.”

The facilities are owned by Rockwood Health System, a subsidiary of struggling Tennessee-based Community Health Systems, Inc., a for-profit company.

Deaconess Hospital has 388 beds and Valley Hospital has 123 beds, and the Rockwood system employs about 3,000 people. CHS bought the two hospitals for a combined $270 million in 2008, then bought the Rockwood Clinic for $50 million in 2009 to make an integrated network that sent patients from its clinics to its hospitals.

CHS had plans to divest itself of 12 hospitals by year’s end, Bloomberg News reported in September, but Robertson said MultiCare approached them about the sale.

“This part of the CHS organization is actually a very high-functioning organization,” Robertson said. The hospitals will maintain local leadership, similar to how Good Samaritan Hospital in Puyallup and Auburn Medical Center are structured.

Rockwood spokesman George Hampton said the purchase agreement includes a commitment from MultiCare to offer employment to all active Rockwood employees in good standing at the time of closing, which is expected in spring. Physicians in good standing with admitting privileges will retain them after the sale, Hampton added.

Hampton said layoffs would not occur at Rockwood facilities between the date of the agreement and the closing of the sale.

“That’s not the point of the sale,” Hampton said.

Current ownership will remain until the sale closes.

Robertson emphasized that he believes the transaction will help MultiCare negotiate with insurance companies to better benefit patients, and there’s much to be learned from how the Rockwood system does business.

“We believe the citizens west of the Cascades are going to benefit from this and we believe the citizens east of the Cascades will,” Robertson said.

Information from The Spokesman-Review was used in this report.

Kenny Ocker: 253-597-8627, @KennyOcker