Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington

From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 1453, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302

Providence Health Care expanding medical residency program to increase access to health care

the Inland Register

(From the Sept. 18, 2014 edition of the Inland Register)

When the Sisters of Providence arrived in Spokane over 158 years ago, they were dedicated to addressing unmet community needs. One of those needs was the training of doctors.

For over 30 years, Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center established and maintained an excellent training program for medical residents. Providence Sisters Sister Mary Bede and Peter Claver were the two chief executives when the residencies were established, and they assured Sacred Heartís participation was true to Providenceís tradition of Catholic health care.

As a result of Sacred Heartís program, hundreds of physicians have received their residency training. Many have stayed in Spokane and have become employed by Providence to help care for everyone, especially the most poor and vulnerable.

In the early years of the medical residency program, Sacred Heart partnered with Deaconess Medical Center, a non-Catholic hospital which was part of Empire Health Services. In that partnership, Sacred Heart always upheld its Catholic identity and followed the Ethical and Religious Directives (ERDs) for Catholic Healthcare Services, even though Deaconess, a non-Catholic provider, did not. That partnership ended in recent years and Providence maintained its responsibility to help train medical residents.

Today, there is a need in Spokane to expand medical residency programs to address a growing shortage in physicians, especially in primary care. As throughout its history, Providence Health Care is addressing that need, but has new partners in this endeavor. Providence will join with Washington State University (WSU) and Empire Health Foundation to establish a larger residency program using a similar structure previously used with Deaconess, where Providence maintains its Catholic identity and heritage and non-Catholic providers maintain their own traditions, separate from Providence.

As recent news accounts of this new consortium did not cite this historical context, nor make clear that the ERDs will continue to be observed, Providence Health Care welcomes this opportunity to reaffirm that in providing the residency training, it has always been and always will continue to be faithful to its tradition of Catholic health care, and follow the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Healthcare Services.

Expanding medical residency programs will provide greater access to excellent health care in the region and means Providence is fulfilling its Mission to provide care for all, especially those who are poor and vulnerable.

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