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Swedish Health Services: Transforming Transplants in a Growing Healthcare Landscape

Cheyenne Haines | MBA | BSN | RN and C.S. Krishnan | M.D. FACS | Administrative Director (Cheyenne) and Medical Director (Dr. Krishnan)
Cheyenne Haines | MBA | BSN | RN and C.S. Krishnan | M.D. FACS | Administrative Director (Cheyenne) and Medical Director (Dr. Krishnan)

In the realm of medical miracles, few feats rival the life-giving power of organ transplantation. For those grappling with end-stage organ damage, be it the heart’s rhythmic cadence, the labouring lungs, or the resilient liver and kidneys, a transplant isn’t just a medical procedure; it’s a beacon of hope, a second chance at life. In a world where medical marvels often blur the line between science fiction and reality, the act of replacing a failing organ with a healthy one stands as a testament to humanity’s relentless pursuit of advancement.

In the United States, this pursuit has never been more crucial. The burgeoning demand for organ transplants has led to an ever-expanding list of patients teetering on the precipice of life and death, their survival hinging on the availability of a suitable organ donor. The poignant truth remains: not everyone on the waiting list will find their lifeline in time. Organs, while invaluable, are finite resources, underscoring the urgency to unearth novel solutions for those who rely on transplants for survival.

As the United States grapples with this critical juncture, the Providence Swedish health care system emerges as a beacon of light. With roots tracing back to the late 19th century, Providence Swedish has grown to become a cornerstone of medical excellence, poised to redefine the landscape of transplantation. The year 2012 marked a watershed moment as Providence and Swedish joined forces, ushering in a new era of healthcare delivery in Western Washington. Today, this alliance stands as the bedrock of a vast network comprising 22,000 dedicated caregivers, an array of eight world-class hospitals, and an impressive fleet of nearly 250 clinics.

More than just a healthcare powerhouse, Providence Swedish embodies compassion in action. Operating as a not-for-profit entity, it extends an astonishing $406 million in community benefits each year, underscoring its unwavering commitment to the well-being of the Puget Sound Region. This health system is more than the sum of its parts – it’s a lifeline for those who require specialized care in diverse arenas, from battling cancer to nurturing cardiovascular health, from navigating neurosciences to fortifying orthopaedics, and from championing digestive health to safeguarding women’s and children’s care.

But perhaps the most remarkable arena in which Providence Swedish shines is the realm of transplantation. With the demand for organs soaring and the supply gap ever-widening, the institution’s dedication to innovation and evolution is palpable. It stands resolute, steering the ship of transplantation into uncharted waters, poised to transform the lives of countless patients awaiting their turn for a second chance at life.

Meet the Experts

C.S. Krishnan, M.D. FACS, Medical Director of the center at Swedish Health Services had his introduction to Transplant Surgery during his early years in medical school in Texas. He was designated to shadow a surgeon during his first year of med school, and coincidentally, the surgeon he shadowed specialized in transplant procedures. The experience was truly awe-inspiring as he observed the intricate nature of the surgeries and their profound impact on people’s lives.

The significance of organ transplants in saving lives became apparent to him, whether it meant liberating a patient from long-term dialysis or offering a chance at recovery from irreversible liver conditions through a liver transplant. Witnessing patients regain their quality of life and rejoin their families was an incredibly rewarding experience for Dr. Krishnan. He recognized that transplantation is a collaborative endeavour involving various medical disciplines, all working closely together to provide comprehensive patient care.

When the time came to choose a surgical sub-specialty, Dr. Krishnan’s decision was easily made. The world of transplant surgery held an irresistible appeal. This field continually reminds him of its inherent challenges, testing him with complex decision-making and demanding his humility in the face of its intricacies.

Cheyenne Haines, MBA, BSN, RN, Administrative Director of the Center at Swedish Health Services, has personally dedicated 22 years of her professional career to the Swedish organization. Upon moving to the Pacific Northwest, she held a firm belief that Swedish stood as the sole healthcare organization in the region that aligned with their career goals. This conviction was rooted in Swedish’s well-established reputation for consistently delivering high-quality care across the healthcare spectrum.

The journey with Swedish commenced in the capacity of a unit nurse, laying the groundwork for a subsequent transition into leadership and administrative roles, a shift that occurred over a decade ago. This trajectory underscores Cheyenne’s commitment to career growth within the Swedish organization and their ongoing contribution to the institution’s advancement.

Advancing Care Through Comprehensive Transplants

Swedish operates as a comprehensive abdominal transplant program, encompassing a range of vital procedures. The institution’s portfolio includes kidney, liver, and pancreas transplants, reflecting its dedication to offering a comprehensive suite of transplant services. Furthermore, Swedish distinguishes itself by providing living donor kidney transplants, a field in which it has upheld a leading role for numerous decades.

Navigating the financial landscape while consistently upholding high-caliber healthcare services stands as a paramount concern for healthcare organizations today. In this context, comprehending the financial intricacies takes precedence as the initial step toward shaping a sustainable future. Swedish has embraced this challenge by fostering a collaborative environment among its administrative teams, fostering a sense of loyalty and dedication among caregivers, and adopting innovative strategies that target service areas. This approach has proven instrumental in enabling the institution to simultaneously deliver top-tier healthcare and remain attuned to the financial demands of the contemporary healthcare climate.

Patient-Centric Approach and Organ Allocation

Dr. Krishnan underscores the significance of patient willingness as a critical component in Swedish’s comprehensive evaluation process for transplant suitability. Recognizing the scarcity and value of organs, the institution is guided by a steadfast commitment to responsibly manage and allocate these invaluable gifts. The active involvement and commitment of patients, along with the equally pivotal support from their families, emerge as pivotal factors in this context. This collective buy-in ensures not only the successful outcome of the transplant procedure but also the patient’s ability to effectively maintain and care for the transplanted organ. In essence, Dr. Krishnan emphasizes that patient and family engagement are integral in fostering post-transplant success and the optimal preservation of the transplanted graft.

Cheyenne highlights that Swedish’s mission is to improve the health and well-being of each person it serves. The core values on which the hospital is built are compassion, justice, excellence, dignity, integrity, and safety. “My operational direction is wholly aligned with the core values of our organization; the way Swedish truly exemplifies these values is the reason that I continue to feel proud to lead here,” says Cheyenne Haines.

Achieving Excellence and Community Engagement

Swedish boasts the most extensive transplant program within the Providence system of 51 hospitals, proudly standing as the sole liver transplant program in the system. Notably, Swedish holds the distinction of being the inaugural provider of outpatient kidney dialysis in the United States, a pioneering achievement dating back to 1960. The institution occupies a prominent position among the seven kidney transplant centres and is one of a select four liver transplant centres catering to the Pacific Northwest region. With an unwavering commitment to progress, Swedish consistently leads the charge in embracing novel advancements within the realm of transplantation surgery. An embodiment of this commitment is the groundbreaking Benevolent Donor Program, which debuted on the West Coast under Swedish’s auspices, marking a significant milestone.

Spanning beyond the Pacific Northwest, Swedish has fostered a longstanding relationship with the Alaska community—a substantial demographic. Notably, a quarter of the patients receiving care for end-stage renal disease (ESRD) and transplantation hail from Alaska. In the year 2023, Swedish has taken steps to reestablish its presence in Alaska by reinstating outreach clinics. These clinics serve as a vital link between Swedish and the Alaskan community, where a designated team travels to Alaska for a week to deliver essential clinics. This initiative has yielded two successful clinics in 2023, with an ambitious plan of hosting three more throughout the year, fostering enhanced accessibility to quality healthcare services for the Alaskan population.

Insights in the Field of Transplantation

Dr. Krishnan offers valuable advice to aspiring enthusiasts in the Transplant field. He emphasizes that, like any domain, unwavering passion and dedication are pivotal when venturing into transplantation. This field is immensely rewarding, as the work directly impacts patients’ lives and their families, effecting life-changing outcomes. However, this responsibility also entails making tough decisions for critically ill patients and the program as a whole.

Dr. Krishnan highlights the dynamic nature of transplantation, a domain constantly evolving and innovating to better serve the patient population. The gratification derived from the role is profound, especially when witnessing the recovery of a previously unwell patient who reclaims their life. The blend of challenge and fulfilment, he suggests, makes transplantation a remarkable and purposeful career choice.

Growth and Impact on Patient Care in the PNW Region

Swedish demonstrates a commitment to the expansion of its transplant program, allocating suitable resources to ensure the delivery of high-quality care during the course of its growth. The growth of the clinic’s transplant program holds paramount importance in addressing the community’s needs, with the clinic regarding this service as a responsibility to uphold.

Benefiting from a diverse team of caregivers and specialized transplant professionals, the clinic consistently attracts strong talents, leading to a gradual improvement in the quality of life for patients and their families. The notable increase in the patient count under the clinic’s care within this year can be attributed to favourable patient outcomes, the expertise of the medical providers, and the pressing demand within the community. This has ignited anticipation for further program expansion in the PNW region.

Patient testimonials

“I would like to thank you all so much for the care my husband received before, during, and after his kidney transplant. Your care and dedication to every aspect of his prep and recovery was impeccable. Your willingness to take the time to address all of our concerns was so appreciated. You will always be in our hearts.”

“We can’t begin to thank each of you enough for the excellent care you have provided! You have been such a blessing to us, providing support, answers, wisdom, optimism, and so much more every step of the way during this difficult and sometimes scary process. We couldn’t have asked for a more compassionate and caring team to hold our hands and walk this journey with. You all make a huge difference in so many lives every single day! You have certainly made a meaningful impact on ours.”

“I want to thank you all for giving my sweet husband a viable liver that gave him many more years I would not have had with him. In that time, we were able to do many things including seeing his favourite artist in concert and see his youngest son marry a wonderful gal. It was a joyous day! These precious memories and more I carry in my heart and thank the Lord for the blessings given us.”

“I am coming up on my two-year anniversary with my ‘Leftie’ the kidney. I just wanted to say thank you for all of your hard work and support. I truly have the best transplant team.”

“Thank you so much for all you did to give my son ‘life’. It is truly remarkable!!! He was in great hands, and we are so very grateful and blessed.”

“In December 2021 I fell extremely ill and the amazing doctors at Swedish caught it immediately and admitted me. They wasted no time in quickly running all tests and scans to properly diagnose me and start my treatment. Indeed, I needed a Liver and Kidney transplant. And quickly. All of the Swedish transplant team (doctors, nurses, and every admin team member) quickly went to work. They spent endless and tireless hours to keep me comfortable while waiting for my desperately needed transplant. Five months later, I received my miracle. The brilliant medical team successfully completed the long surgery and SAVED MY LIFE!

I am still here today because every single one of the Swedish transplant team never gave up on me and fought hard to give me a 2nd chance of life.

I am so fortunate that I was at the right place at the right time. I will be grateful to each one of them for the rest of my life. THANK YOU!”



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