Swedish Medical Center
Swedish Medical Center
Owner & Operator Dr. Nils Johanson
Business Function Health Care
Founded est. 1910
Care System Private, Non-Profit
Hospital Type Full Service Inpatient and Outpatient Medical and Surgical Tertiary Care
Emergency Department Yes
Beds 1245
Location University District

"Great care is not a chance. It's a choice."

Swedish Medical Center is a large nonprofit health care provider located in Seattle, Washington. It has three main hospital locations in Seattle and is also affiliated with many other suburban hospitals and clinics. Among the things Swedish is known for its Swedish Cancer Institute, Swedish Neuroscience Institute, orthopedic surgery, specialized surgery, organ transplant, pediatric specialty care, childbirth services, bariatric surgery, and the Swedish Heart and Vascular Institute.

Establishment History


In 1910, Dr. Nils Johanson, a surgeon and Swedish immigrant, convinced 10 of his fellow Swedish-Americans to buy $1,000 bonds to open Swedish Hospital in a renovated apartment building, with just 24 beds.

Since its early days as a small, nonprofit hospital in the young port town of Seattle, Swedish has served its surrounding communities with outstanding health care.

In 1912, the Swedish Board of Trustees acquired a nearby 40-bed private hospital that was nearing completion when its founder died unexpectedly. The new facility, located at Summit and Columbia, would become the cornerstone of Swedish Medical Center/First Hill.

To meet increasing demand, the hospital's first patient wing was added just four years later. During the next 50 years, every decade saw the addition of new buildings and enhanced facilities. Even during the Great Depression, Swedish persevered in its commitment to serve its community. In 1932, it opened the first cancer-care center west of the Mississippi. Today, the Swedish Cancer Institute treats more people for more types of cancer than any other provider in the Pacific Northwest.

By 1975, with the addition of professional office buildings and the area's first independent day-surgery program, Swedish had grown to become a major medical center. In 1980, Doctors Hospital and Seattle General Hospital closed, merging with Swedish.

Ballard Community Hospital became a valuable part of the Swedish system in 1992. Now known as Swedish Medical Center/Ballard, it continues to play a vital role in the North Seattle community. Providence Seattle Medical Center, founded by the Sisters of Providence, also added important expertise and resources when it joined the Swedish system in 2000. The Providence location is now called Swedish Medical Center/Cherry Hill.

As Swedish has evolved, its founder's vision has not changed: to be the best nonprofit medical facility in the region.

History Timeline

  • 1878 - Three Sisters of Providence opened Swedish's first hospital — Providence Hospital (now Swedish Medical Center/Cherry Hill).
  • 1910 - Swedish Hospital (now Swedish Medical Center/First Hill) opened on Belmont Avenue and Olive Street.
  • 1912 - Swedish Hospital moved to a new facility at Summit and Columbia.
  • 1928 - Ballard General Hospital opened (now Swedish Medical Center/Ballard).
  • 1932 - Swedish Hospital opened the Tumor Institute (now Swedish Cancer Institute) — the first dedicated cancer-treatment center west of the Mississippi.
  • 1954 - Ballard General Hospital (now Swedish Medical Center/Ballard) moved to its current location on Tallman Avenue.
  • 1975 - Swedish Hospital opened the state's first independent day-surgery program.
  • 1980 - Doctors Hospital and Seattle General Hospital merged with Swedish Hospital.
  • 1992 - Ballard Community Hospital (now Swedish Medical Center/Ballard) merged with Swedish Medical Center.
  • 2000 - Swedish Medical Center acquired Providence Seattle Medical Center (now Swedish Medical Center/Cherry Hill) and Providence Medical Group (now Swedish Physicians).
  • 2005 - Swedish opened new community-based emergency room and specialty center in East King County, called Swedish Medical Center/Issaquah.


Since 1910, Swedish Medical Center has been the region’s hallmark for excellence in health care. In fact, in an independent research study conducted by the National Research Corp., Swedish is consistently named the area's best hospital, with the best doctors, nurses and overall care in a variety of specialty areas.

Swedish is the largest, most comprehensive, nonprofit health provider in the Greater Seattle area. We have three hospital locations in Seattle, an emergency room and specialty center in Issaquah (East King County) and more:

  • Swedish Medical Center/Ballard Campus (163 beds)
  • Swedish Medical Center/First Hill Campus (697 beds)
  • Swedish Medical Center/Cherry Hill Campus in Squire Park (385 beds)
  • Swedish Medical Center/Issaquah Campus
  • Swedish Physicians network of 12 primary care clinics
  • Multiple specialty clinics
  • Affiliations with suburban hospitals and physician groups

But Swedish is not just about facilities, research and new techniques. It's about people coming together to provide the most compassionate care possible. From nurses and physicians to social workers and dietitians, the dedicated teams of Swedish Medical Center are defining on a personal level what excellence really means.

Mission and Outreach

As a nonprofit health-care provider, Swedish takes seriously our responsibility to provide access to the services, expertise and facilities needed by our communities. This commitment to improving the health of our region includes extending our reach beyond normal patient care. Whether through physician clinics, health education, charity care, our mobile mammography program or other means of outreach, we're committed to caring for the people of our region and beyond.

In this section, you'll learn about the many services, activities and programs at Swedish - known as community benefits - that exist because we want to do all we can to make a difference. What is a community benefit? It's offering free screenings at fairs. It's helping patients in financial crisis. It's providing car seats to families who need them. It's offering training and education programs to our medical staff. It's covering the cost of medical care for those who cannot pay. It's all this and more.

Community benefits promote health and healing, and help us fulfill our mission to be the best community partner possible and remain an asset to the neighborhoods we serve.

Leadership and Governance

Swedish Medical Center is governed by a Board of Trustees composed of community members who volunteer their time. The role of the board is to establish policy, promote performance improvement, provide for necessary resources and provide for organizational management and planning. The Board of Trustees appoints a Governance Committee, which is responsible for identifying new board members and making recommendations to the board. Learn more about the Swedish Board of Trustees.

The day-to-day management of all operations is the responsibility of Swedish's chief executive officer Rodney Hochman, M.D.; president and chief operating officer Calvin Knight; and the chief officers and vice presidents who make up the Senior Leadership Team.

The Swedish Medical Center Foundation reaches out to the community to secure resources in support of Swedish. Community volunteers who donate their time on the Foundation Board of Governors help to develop fundraising programs that are in alignment with the strategic priorities of Swedish, and assist with increasing community awareness of Swedish and its mission. Members of this board are selected by a Nomination Committee that identifies individuals to serve. Learn more about the Foundation Board of Governors.

All members of the Board of Trustees and Board of Governors, as well as all employees and hospital volunteers, are governed by a Code of Conduct and are subject to a Conflict of Interest policy.

Facts & Figures

Based in Seattle, Swedish is the largest nonprofit health-care provider in the Greater Seattle area. In independent research by National Research Corporation, Swedish is consistently named the area's best hospital, with the best doctors, nurses and care in a variety of specialty areas.

Swedish has three hospital locations in Seattle, a freestanding emergency room and specialty center in Issaquah (East King County), and a network of 12 primary care clinics.


In 1910, when techniques as basic as sterilization were not widely used in local operating rooms, Dr. Nils Johanson saw a need in the Seattle area for a modern nonprofit medical facility — one that offered the latest treatments of its day and followed the very highest standards in patient care. Dr. Johanson, a surgeon and Swedish immigrant, presented his vision to 10 Swedish-American businessmen. Although none were wealthy, they were all eager to do something positive for the young Seattle community. They each agreed to buy $1,000 bonds, and on June 1, 1910, Dr. Johanson's vision was born as a 24-bed hospital in a renovated apartment building. In the first years of operation, Dr. Johanson and President J.A. Soderberg paid the bills out of their own pockets. It was the beginning of a legacy of humanitarianism and stewardship that would transform the small hospital into the region's largest, most comprehensive, not-for-profit health-care provider.

Swedish is known as a regional referral center, providing an extensive range of specialized treatment:

  • Oncology - Swedish Cancer Institute
  • Cardiovascular care - Swedish Heart & Vascular Institute
  • Neurological care - Swedish Neuroscience Institute
  • Orthopedic care - Swedish Orthopedic Institute
  • Obstetrics (OB) and high-risk OB - Women and Children's Services
  • Clinical research
  • Pediatrics - Swedish Pediatric Specialty Care
  • Primary care - Swedish Physicians
  • Surgery

Swedish is also committed to ongoing medical research. At any given time, there are as many as 600 clinical trials (federal and commercial) being conducted by Swedish-affiliated physicians, making Swedish one of the nation's leading clinical-trial sites.

Caring For Our Communities

As the largest not-for-profit medical provider in the Greater Seattle area, Swedish has the social responsibility to make a significant contribution to keeping our communities healthy. We see our communities as partners and we're committed to working with them to improve the quality of life for all, regardless of their ability to pay. In 2007, Swedish donated $15,184,000 in direct charity care to the community.

Community Programs and Services

Residency Programs Serving the Poor

Swedish works with five community clinics that provide health care to underserved populations, including ethnic communities and the poor. Many of the patients are refugees, homeless or without the means to get the clinical and pharmaceutical attention they need. Our residency programs provide these services at the 45th Street Clinic, the SeaMar Clinic, the Indian Health Board Clinic, Downtown Family Medicine and the Swedish/Cherry Hill Family Medicine Clinic.

Services for Low-Income Mothers and Newborns

Mothers in need and their young children receive assistance through programs such as First Steps Maternity Support Services and Women, Infant and Children’s nutrition. We also provide subsidized childbirth and parenting classes.

Swedish Pregnant Women Services

This program assists expectant mothers with drug and alcohol addictions. It also works with Swedish Perinatal Medicine to make sure these women get the extra medical attention they need to reduce the risk for complications with their pregnancy and health problems in their newborn.

Clinical Services for the Elderly

Through the Swedish/Ballard Community Nursing Clinic, we offer free vaccinations, blood-pressure checks, foot care and other basic services to low-income seniors. Through our Cherry Hill Campus Family Medicine Clinic, water aerobics, jazzercise and nutrition classes are offered at no cost to the frail and elderly who are striving to make healthy choices.

At-Risk Youth

With the goal of reducing teen-age suicide and other forms of violence, through a partnership with Seattle Public Schools, Swedish provides summer employment for “at-risk” students. Swedish provides an advocate for the Asian Pacific Islander Teen Peer Advocate Program at Garfield High School through a collaborative effort with Asian Counseling and Referral Services, which addresses the issues of dating violence. We also offer night medical care for homeless youth through a collaboration with Seattle Children’s Home and its Safe Links program.

Health-Care Services for Youth

In 2002, Swedish established a teen health clinic at Ballard High School.

Support for Patients and Families

Patient-assistance funds are made available to help with rent and other bills, plus medication assistance. Food and clothing banks and patient transportation are part of this program, which also provides comfort therapies to hospice patients. Swedish also donates the space for St. Joseph’s Baby Corner, a program that provides basic baby necessities to those who are desperately in need.

Family Violence Program

We have trained our medical staff and have developed protocols to identify victims of family violence as they are treated in our medical clinics and emergency departments. In partnership with many community agencies, we provide financial support and donate space to organizations such as New Beginnings and the YWCA that support battered women and their families.

Community Health Education

The Swedish Health Resource Centers have taken an innovative approach to health education by providing community residents with printed materials and research assistance — all at no charge.

Swedish Mobile Mammography Vans

Swedish provides screening and diagnostic services to women who are low-income or have no insurance.

Program for Developmentally Disabled Students

This program offers job-training skills to students with disabilities.

Health Adventures

In this program, 15 Madison Middle School students interested in health-care careers are mentored by University of Washington medical students and Swedish staff and are given an opportunity to practice math and science skills in a workplace environment.

Bereavement Groups

Swedish Home Care Services provides support groups for people who have lost loved ones.

Spiritual-Care Events

The Spiritual Care Department at Swedish offers several community-based educational events, including a workshop for pastoral caregivers that focuses on hospital visitation, as well as other workshops open to the public on such topics as end-of-life issues and access to health care.

Charity Care

Swedish's charity-care program offers free or discounted hospital services for people who cannot afford care. We are able to provide financial assistance in cases where the yearly family income is between 0 percent and 350 percent of the federal poverty level.

Matt Talbot Center

Swedish provides financial support to this free, six-month intensive outpatient clinical drug- and alcohol-treatment program.

Center for Career Alternatives

Swedish provides financial support to this program, which provides quality education, job training, career development and employment services to a culturally diverse population of primarily economically disadvantaged youth and adults.

Legislative Advocacy

Swedish is committed to working with legislators and has partnered with the Washington State Hospital Association in lobbying for public policy that will provide services for the poor and people most in need of health care.

Mother Joseph Clinic

This clinic, which began operating at Swedish Medical Center/Cherry Hill Campus in 2004, is a much needed service that provides orthopedics and other specialty medical care to indigent and uninsured patients in the Seattle area. The clinic does not ask patients to pay for their care, which is provided by volunteer board-certified specialists

Accreditation and Quality

Swedish Medical Center, which is an equal-opportunity employer, is fully accredited by the Washington State Department of Health, the Commission on Cancer, and the Joint Commission for the Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations. An active quality improvement program ensures that all patients receive optimal care in a safe and caring environment. Learn more.

Future Issaquah Hosptial


Swedish has received the go ahead from the Washington State Department of Health to build a new full-service hospital in Issaquah. This is great news, as the Issaquah/Sammamish community continues to grow and there's a definite need for a local hospital.

About the hospital

The new hospital will provide comprehensive care with the same high standards for quality and service you expect from Swedish. When complete, the hospital will offer specialties including:

  • Oncology
  • Cardiac Care
  • Obstetrics
  • Pediatrics
  • General Medical Care
  • Emergency Medicine

The new Swedish hospital campus will be located at a convenient site off of Interstate 90 at Exit No. 18 in the Issaquah Highlands. It will be at Highlands Drive N.E. and "D" Drive.

The hospital will open in 2012 with an initial 120 beds. While several area hospitals are appealing the decision to allow Swedish to build a hospital in Issaquah, we're confident the decision will be upheld and are moving forward with the hospital plans.

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