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6 years of MultiCare and Auburn Medical Center

Posted on Oct. 16, 2018 ( comments)
Auburn Medical Center Exterior 01

A lot has changed in the city of Auburn in the last six years.

In October 2012, Auburn Medical Center (then known as Auburn Regional Medical Center) became the fifth hospital to join the MultiCare Health System network — and the first from South King County.

The acquisition was part of MultiCare’s vision to strengthen and expand quality health care to families not only in Auburn, but also in its surrounding communities.

“I always tell people, ‘There are bigger cities in Puget Sound, but there isn’t a bigger community than Auburn,” says Steve Anderson, MD.

Dr. Anderson has been an emergency department physician in Auburn for 32 years, which means he’s seen the hospital go through more changes than just about anyone.

Back in the early 2000s, Auburn Regional Medical Center was recognized as a top medical training center in partnership with the American Heart Association. But when that partnership ended, Anderson says the hospital’s culture “lost its passion” to remain a top-tier facility.

“After that, it was just sort of viewed as a for-profit health care system. It was a place to go when you’re sick; people didn’t think of it as a place to go to get healthy,” he explains. “MultiCare stepping in has totally reinvigorated the community.”

Dr. Anderson attributes the improvements he’s seen to a few things MultiCare has done: an investment in people, structural and service improvements and a philanthropic commitment.

A full renovation of the emergency department was completed in 2017 and a new adult psychiatric unit was added in 2016 to help address the community’s behavioral health needs. Waiting room areas were also refreshed and donations from the community made it possible to build a new gift shop and a chapel.

“Before then, we’d have patients and families who would ask for a quiet place to find peace or pray, and I would have to tell them we don’t have one,” says Annette Gildemann, program director of MultiCare Chaplain Services. “For a grieving family, that space gives them somewhere to come together in private. A patient room is just not the same.”

There’s also an in-house outpatient pharmacy that didn’t exist before, which is a convenience Dr. Anderson relies on every day to care for his patients.

The hospital’s overall patient experience scores have steadily increased, rising to the 53rd percentile nationwide as of February 2018, compared to the 5th percentile in 2013. (The 50th percentile is the national average.)

But MultiCare couldn’t have made such a drastic impact in Auburn without strong partnership and support from community leadership.

Mayor Nancy Backus has been an unwavering champion of change for the city not only because she’s the mayor, but also because she’s been a resident herself for more than 50 years.

She remembers growing up in a community where everyone was invested in one another and deeply committed to supporting each other. That’s how she wants others to feel about the city today, and says MultiCare’s nonprofit approach is helping.

Instead of gearing efforts toward generating higher company profits, MultiCare aims to reinvest money back into the communities of patients and their families.

“I am proud to consider the city of Auburn and MultiCare community partners,” Mayor Backus says. “When for-profit is your model, the bottom line is always part of what drives you, but when the process is patient-centered care rather than profit, it removes that influence.”

Mayor Backus says she’s seen clear differences between the hospital operating under for-profit and nonprofit models. As it’s managed now, she sees it as a facility deeply committed to community health with a global philosophy of health care — one that involves all segments of the community, including local government.

“I believe anytime we can all work together to find solutions and make improvements, the benefits are all the more powerful,” she says.

Donate to projects at MultiCare Auburn Medical Center

By the end of 2018, the Let’s Grow Together campaign will fund construction of a new, state-of-the-art centralized utility plant for MultiCare Auburn Medical Center. Learn more and donate.

About The Author

McKenna Ownby
McKenna Ownby is a communication specialist for MultiCare Foundations. She writes stories that connect readers to the impact of giving. You can contact her at [email protected]. More stories by this author
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