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12/11/2013 8:35:00 AM
Kaiser won't deny rumors of Lane County move
Kaiser Permanente photo
Kaiser Permanente, which operates Kaiser Sunnyside Medical Center, would not deny rumors it plans to expand to Eugene area.
Kaiser Permanente photo
Kaiser Permanente, which operates Kaiser Sunnyside Medical Center, would not deny rumors it plans to expand to Eugene area.

Health provider Kaiser Permanente is neither confirming nor denying reports that it will seek to open clinics in the Eugene area, ground now covered by PeaceHealth, a Catholic provider.

"At Kaiser Permanente we are always assessing opportunities to expand our unique model of integrated care and coverage where it best suits our customers, members and the community," said Kaiser spokeswoman Erin Tassey.

In Portland, Kaiser and Providence, another Catholic system, have long competed in the healthcare service industry. In Lane County, PeaceHealth has emerged as the main provider, with McKenzie-Willamette Medical Center as a moderately significant player.

Kaiser is seen as one of the more innovative systems on the west coast. It already has major presences in Portland and California. The system did just sustain a black eye, admitting that California hospital staff lost a flash drive with 49,000 patients' private information, including names, health record numbers and medication lists.

PeaceHealth was founded by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace. It has faced its own struggles, cutting about 170 jobs recently in Southwest Washington. PeaceHealth officials laid some of the blame for that on Kaiser, which ended a partnership with PeaceHealth in Clark County. Kaiser said it would stop sending its patients to PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center in Vancouver.

PeaceHealth officials could not be reached for comment.   

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