Providence CEO Rod Hochman apologizes for troubles at Swedish

In a message to the community, Dr. Rod Hochman writes: “You deserved better from us — and from me.”

Mike Baker

The CEO who oversees Swedish Health and dozens of other hospital campuses around the West has issued an apology for Swedish’s recent troubles, which have resulted in resignations and investigations.

Dr. Rod Hochman, the president and CEO of umbrella organization Providence St. Joseph Health, said in a full-page advertisement in The Seattle Times that he is “ultimately accountable for the successes and mistakes of the hospitals in our system.”

“I apologize to the caregivers, physicians, patients and community for the pain the current situation has caused,” Hochman said in the Sunday ad (embedded below). “You deserved better from us — and from me.”

The message was Hochman’s first public comment since a Seattle Times investigation exposed problems at Swedish’s acclaimed neuroscience institute. Hochman has declined requests for an in-person or telephone interview.

The Times explored a range of internal concerns about patient care, and frustrations among staffers that their concerns weren’t being addressed — particularly when it came to the institute’s top surgeon, Dr. Johnny Delashaw. Swedish embraced contracts that incentivized doctors to pursue a high volume of procedures, and some doctors managed their workload by running multiple surgeries at the same time. The number of cases and overall billings grew dramatically over the past several years.

Swedish CEO Tony Armada resigned in the wake of The Times’ investigation. Delashaw also resigned. The state Department of Health and the U.S. Attorney’s Office have also launched investigations.

In a message to staff last week, Hochman distanced himself from the turmoil. The Times had reported how Delashaw was initially hired by Providence and placed at Swedish’s Cherry Hill facility despite questions about his work that had surfaced in California. Hochman told staffers that Delashaw “was initially hired by our chief clinical officer at the time, not me.” He said quality, safety, patient experience and credential issues are managed locally.

“These areas are and always have been the purview of the Swedish Board of Trustees, Swedish leadership and medical staff,” Hochman told staff. Hochman was previously the CEO at Swedish until the two organizations combined in 2012 and he was elevated to lead Providence. He now oversees 50 hospitals and 829 clinics across seven western states.

In his new message, which also went to leaders within Swedish, Hochman wrote that the whole organization is learning from what happened at Swedish and making improvements to be stronger and more compassionate.

Hochman mentioned the case of Talia Goldenberg, a young woman from Oregon who was featured in one of The Times’ stories.

“I was deeply moved by what her mother…

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