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Council approves blueprint for negotiations on operation of Harborview


Motion adopts principles for deliberations on new agreement


As King County begins its preliminary discussions on the future operation of the county-owned Harborview Medical Center, the King County Council today gave its unanimous support for a set of principles they want to be part of the negotiations. 

“Harborview is a world-class medical facility that is also the region’s primary public hospital and regional trauma center,” said Council Chair Larry Phillips, the prime sponsor of the adopted motion. “Hundreds of thousands of residents rely on Harborview each year for healthcare provided by first rate doctors, nurses, and staff. By our action today, the Council establishes the county’s expectations for negotiations determining future operations of the hospital to meet its public mission.” 

“Between implementation of the Affordable Care Act and changing economic conditions, times have changed since we last contracted for management of Harborview Medical Center,” said Council Vice Chair Jane Hague.  “This legislation provides our vision and principles for how we believe a County hospital should be run.”

“Harborview Medical Center is one of the nation’s top hospitals, run by a talented and committed team from the University of Washington for more than 40 years,” said Councilmember Rod Dembowski. “Today’s motion is an important step forward in the process of completing a new management agreement that gives the Council a rare opportunity to reaffirm Harborview’s mission and assert that the hospital must be managed and operated in a manner that promotes equity and social justice in all sectors of its work, including the fair treatment of employees, providers, community partners and clients.”

Owned by King County, Harborview is governed by a board of trustees appointed by the County and operated by the University of Washington. Harborview Medical Center is the only designated Level 1 adult and pediatric trauma and burn center in the state of Washington and serves as the regional trauma and burn referral center for Alaska, Montana and Idaho.

Since 1970, Harborview has been operated through a partnership with the University of Washington Medical School. This agreement has been governed by a series of contracts delineating the roles and responsibilities of the County, the Board of Trustees and the University of Washington. The current agreement expires June 30, 2015.

As the County begins it negotiations on the new management agreement, the Council wants to ensure that specific principles are reflected in the agreement. The adopted motion outlines those principles:

  • Commitment to Community: Because Harborview is public medical facility, it has a commitment to treating the indigent, sick, injured and infirm of King County and patients should not be turned away by their inability to pay. 
  • Valuing Employees: The strength of Harborview is the highly trained, skilled workforce. The operator of the facility shall place a high priority on creating a positive relationship between management and employees.
  • Financial Stewardship: The County, the operator of Harborview, and the hospital’s Board of Trustees have a responsibility to operate the facility in a fiscally responsible manner to ensure public ownership for future generations.
  • Environmental Stewardship: The operator of Harborview will continue to operate the facility in a manner consistent with King County policies on environmental stewardship, specifically the Comprehensive Plan and the Strategic Climate Action Plan.
  • Fair and Just: Harborview shall adhere to King County’s principles of serving all residents of King County, promoting fairness and opportunity, and eliminating inequality.

Read more about this legislation on the King County Council’s LEGISEARCH system at  and type in “2014-0158”

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