Swedish Medical Center officials unveil hospital plans

February 3, 2009

By Jim Feehan

Representatives from Swedish Medical Center have provided the City Council with a glimpse of their new 175-bed hospital and medical center in the Issaquah Highlands, a change from their previous plans.

The site will include three towers, each six to seven stories tall. The original artist’s rendition from five years ago depicted a single, five-story building. A rendering of the project is not yet available.Groundbreaking begins this summer for the three-phase project. A medical office building is slated for completion in 2010, an outpatient surgery center in late 2011 and the hospital in 2012, said Chuck Salmon, executive director of the Swedish Medical Center Issaquah campus.

“We’re pleased to have a major presence here in Issaquah,” he said.

The hospital and medical buildings will be located on a 12.5- acre plot along Northeast Blakely Drive. Swedish also purchased an adjoining five acres for future development. Other floors will include various medical specialties, such as internal medicine, pediatrics, cardiology, urology, mental health and orthopedics.

The medical campus will have a new staff and will not be an appendage of Swedish’s current Issaquah location near the south shore of Lake Sammamish. The current site will not be closed, Salmon said.

“We want to build a robust cross section of medical providers from the Eastside,” he said. “We really see a lot of growth in the Lakemont, south Bellevue, Newcastle, Mercer Island area and they will prefer to use this campus.”

The facility will be built to the silver level of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Green Building Rating System. The system was developed by the U.S. Green Building Council to provide standards for environmentally sustainable construction.

“Hands down, this will be the most energy-efficient medical facility in Washington state,” Salmon said.

He made the comments at the Jan. 27 Committee of the Whole meeting.

City Councilwoman Maureen McCarry said the hospital would be a welcome addition to the community, adding that it would cut down on commute time to health care facilities in Seattle and Bellevue.

“I think this will be important for the health of our elderly,” she said.

Swedish formed a focus group of Issaquah and Sammamish residents to determine what services the community would like, Salmon said.

A user-friendly layout and a one-stop shopping approach were among the items the focus group mentioned, he said.

Hospital wars

Approval for the medical center in Issaquah was announced 18 months ago by the state Department of Health.

The decision cleared the way for preliminary project planning while placing an obstacle before rival Overlake Hospital and Medical Center’s proposal to build its own hospital in Issaquah. The decision came after three years of legal battles with the state over whether a new Eastside hospital was needed.

Swedish first proposed an Issaquah hospital in 2004, when officials applied for a certificate of need from the state. Overlake did the same. Both were turned down on the grounds that sufficient hospital beds already existed on the Eastside, and both appealed.

An administrative law judge upheld the appeal, but Swedish officials appealed again. The calculation of need was flawed, Swedish officials argued, because the state should not have included 132 beds from Group Health Eastside Hospital in Redmond in its bed-need calculation.

Snoqualmie Valley Hospital in Snoqualmie and Evergreen Hospital Medical Center in Kirkland are currently appealing granting a certificate of need with the state Department of Health, Salmon said.

Swedish has three Seattle hospital campuses, a freestanding emergency room and specialty center in Issaquah, Swedish Home Care Services and Swedish Physicians — a network of 12 primary-care clinics. Three are in east King County (Issaquah, Factoria and Pine Lake). Besides providing general medical and surgical care, Swedish is a regional referral center for cardiovascular care, cancer care, neuroscience, orthopedics, high-risk obstetrics, pediatrics, organ transplantation and clinical research.

Reach Reporter Jim Feehan at 392-6434, ext. 239, or jfeehan@isspress.com. Comment on this story at www.issaquahpress.com.

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