The timing of the stories suggested to some readers that I had a vendetta against the hospital.
I don’t. As a matter of fact, Deb Nalty, Medical Director of Providence’s Monroe Clinic, is my primary care doctor, and I like and respect her a great deal.
I wrote about Providence because a number of credible doctors in the area made enough of a case about losing referrals that it bore examining. I researched for more than two months, talking to many people in the health care industry around the region, and I thought my coverage was fair. I certainly intended it to be, but some disagreed.
As I researched that, I happened upon records pertaining to the failure of the second of two negotiations between Valley General Hospital and Providence over partnership. I wrote about it when it came to light; to have held off would have been to do Providence a favor I wouldn’t do the school district or the prison or any other institution in town. I knew it would look like I had an axe to grind, but better that than chicken out so people wouldn’t think ill of me.
I’ve written all I intend to write on the topic of Providence’s business for now.
That is not to say the story is told on Providence.
I had a sit-down with two of Providence’s media contact people last week, and they were pretty upset about the stories. We talked for an hour and a half.
In the end, while I stand by my stories, I do recognize that Providence’s story has been far from completely told in this paper.
Providence does a lot in the community. They sponsor Relay for Life, they bring education programs into the schools, they provide health care to about 27,000 people through their Monroe clinic and they do a significant amount of charity care.
When I’ve known about those things, I’ve written about them; when local Native American flute player Peter Ali recovered from cancer at Providence and his picture was on Snohomish County Metro buses, I wrote about it. I’ve written about Inside Out, the Providence program that brings human organs to schools so kids can see what they look like.
The problem has been that when I get a press release from Providence, it tends to be about regional things, such as new innovations at the Everett hospital or county-wide programs that don’t fit in our hyper-local coverage.
So I invited the hospital to tell the Monitor about its many good and positive local stories, as they are just as important and just as newsworthy as anything that calls the organization into question.
That invitation extends to any employee or patient of Providence’s. If you had a great health outcome at the hospital or the clinic, it might make a good story. If you know of a class or community service undertaken by the hospital, the community should know about it. If your kid participates in a Providence activity, that could be a good story, too.
I also want to make the point that a story about Providence is not a story about the Valley General Hospital levy. Providence has been in town for many years and will continue to be in town for many more, regardless of the success of the Valley General Hospital levy.
I look forward to providing more complete coverage of all that Providence does in this community.