Hospital excavation could begin this week
August 18, 2009
By Warren Kagarise
Crews will begin excavation work at the Swedish Medical Center hospital campus this week, hospital executives said. Plans call for a medical office building, outpatient care center and — eventually — hospital beds on 18 acres in the Issaquah Highlands.During the first phase of construction, crews will build the office building and outpatient center. Hospital executives said the initial phase would open in summer 2011. A second phase — with 80 hospital beds — is scheduled to open in the first quarter of 2012. The second phase will eventually expand to 175 beds.
“People are anxious to have the care close to home,” said Kevin Brown, a Swedish Medical Center senior vice president leading the Issaquah expansion.
The planned campus — at the southwestern corner of Highlands Drive Northeast and Ninth Avenue Northeast — will offer inpatient and outpatient services, including oncology, cardiac care, obstetrics, pediatrics and neurosciences and intensive care.
A ceremonial groundbreaking for hospital executives, physicians, donors and city leaders is scheduled for Oct. 12.
But Swedish executives face hurdles before the planned campus can admit its first patient.
Rival Overlake Hospital Medical Center filed a lawsuit in Thurston County Superior Court June 1 against the state Department of Health. Overlake attorneys filed the suit because, hospital spokesman Patrick Moody said, Swedish executives are planning to build a hospital different from what was outlined in a certificate of need proposal to the state.
Moody said hospital attorneys filed the lawsuit to hold the Department of Health to its standards for new hospitals. He said Department of Health officials would typically review changes to hospital plans before the building was constructed, but in the case of the Swedish Issaquah campus, Moody said the health department opted to review the changes after construction was complete.
Swedish executive Brown characterized the lawsuit as a “significant distraction,” but said design work on the planned campus would continue through the end of the year.
“The amount we’re going to spend on legal fees on this, we could have had a new CT scanner,” said Dr. John Milne, medical director for strategic development and a physician at the Issaquah ER.
Emergency services will be offered at the new hospital and at the existing standalone Swedish Medical Center emergency room along Southwest Sammamish Road.
Milne said the hospital would offer emergency services at both locations. He said physicians and staffers at both locations would work closely to coordinate patient care.
The hospital has a 20-year lease on its existing ER space.
Milne also serves on the city Urban Villages Development Commission, which oversees projects related to the highlands and Talus.
Brown touted the hospital project as a way to jumpstart development in the highlands. He noted how a hospital is “typically a great economic stimulus to an area.”
The project is “moving along very well,” Brown said. “We’re very excited about it.”
Reach Reporter Warren Kagarise at 392-6434, ext. 234, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Comment on this story at www.issaquahpress.com.