Swedish hospital eyes 2014 expansion

August 13, 2013

By Peter Clark

City planners expect to finalize a Swedish/Issaquah development agreement to expand the hospital in October.

Executives introduced plans to convert 28 acres adjacent to the existing hospital into an additional facility this past spring. To accomplish the goal, Swedish seeks the establishment of a new development agreement that will allow the addition of 150,000 square feet to 180,000 square feet in the form of a new multi-use building.

Talks with the city continued during the Aug. 6 Urban Village Development Commission meeting. City planners and Swedish leaders had hoped to come to an agreement by the end of the summer. However, the timeline has since shifted, according to city Development Services Land Development Manager Lucy Sloman.

“We’re no longer shooting for September. Now, we’re shooting for October,” Sloman said. “They would like to be under construction by the next building season.”

She said the push for expansion was brought about due to continued favorable results they found in the area.

“I think they’re seeing a lot of success,” Sloman said. “The land was available and most of the environment work was done. Plus, they received another 50 to 55 hospital beds they need to use, which are allotted by the state. If Swedish doesn’t use them by the end of 2018, they will lose them.”

Should the medical center build space for all allowed by the state, it would bring the total beds offered to 175.

It has been 10 years since the initial development agreement with Swedish Hospital and Sloman said the Development Services Department had learned plenty to expedite and improve the process. Since Port Blakely still controls the Issaquah Highlands agreement, to move forward on the site, they would also have to be party to a consensus along with the city and Swedish.

“In some ways, it’s not a new development agreement,” she said. “It’s a compilation of a development agreement tailored for Swedish. There is a precedence for this because it’s what we did with YWCA and zHome.”

Swedish executives gave a presentation about continued growth at the commission meeting, as well as reasons for physical expansion.

“We’ve added a lot of new programs to our campus. The problem we have is we just don’t have the space,” Swedish Medical Center Director of Finance Alex Gross said. “We are very interested in continuing this success.”

The medical center employs about 800 employees and plans to increase that number.

“Over the next two to three years, we are looking to adding at least 40 new positions to our campus,” he said.

Chief Executive Officer Chuck Salmon said more space would assist the community as well as Swedish.

“The mission for Swedish/Issaquah is to improve the health and well-being of everyone we serve,” he said. “We’re very interested in growing and need to have the potential to add positions. With that, I believe that we will see subsequent in-patient use that will translate to the need for more beds.”

Sloman said the commission will bring its recommendation to the City Council’s Land & Shore Committee as well as the Infrastructure Committee. The full council will consider the agreement in the coming months.


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