Construction starts on long-awaited Issaquah Highlands retail center

July 3, 2012

Earth-moving equipment works at the intersection of Highlands Drive Northeast and Northeast High Street on June 26 as construction starts on Grand Ridge Plaza. By Autumn Monahan

Finally, after years of plans and promises, developers and officials gathered in the Issaquah Highlands early June 26 to launch construction on a $70 million retail center in the neighborhood — a long-awaited amenity for residents and, in recent years, a symbol for the anemic economy and rebound.

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Community invited to celebrate diversity at Highlands Day

June 19, 2012

Cultural diversity is the theme of this year’s Highlands Day, hosted by the Issaquah Highlands Council.

The annual event that marks the summer kickoff traditionally boasts an American theme. But this year, the council plans to celebrate the great diversity found in the Issaquah community, according to Christy Garrard, special events planner for the council.

“We’re partnering with the Issaquah Arts Commission, Swedish hospital and several other title sponsors to bring a four-hour outdoor festival that highlights different ethnicities and cultures,” she said.

This year’s celebration will be from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. June 23. The event takes place in the heart of the Issaquah Highlands at Blakely Hall and Village Green Park. The event is open to the entire community, not just those from the Issaquah Highlands. Read more

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Developer announces July groundbreaking for Issaquah Highlands hotel

June 5, 2012

NEW — 10 a.m. June 5, 2012

Construction is expected to start on a long-planned, much-anticipated hotel in the Issaquah Highlands next month, the developer announced early Tuesday.

InnSight HMG plans to break ground on the hotel, a Residence Inn by Marriott, in mid-July. Plans call for the hotel to include 111 suites and employ more than 40 people.

The hotel site is located across Highlands Drive Northeast from Swedish/Issaquah. City officials expect the hospital to attract guests to the hotel, as people seek a nearby place to stay as family members undergo treatment.

“Although we have already completed some initial site work, we are excited to officially break ground and become part of the Issaquah community,” InnSight Executive Vice President Pat McShane said in a statement. “Issaquah Highland’s focus on sustainability, community and growth make it an ideal setting for our Residence Inn. It will provide visitors an opportunity to feel like they are part of the neighborhood while enjoying all the comforts of home.”

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City’s sales tax revenue is down so far in 2012

May 8, 2012

Issaquah municipal government did not collect as much revenue January through March as it did during the same period a year ago, although planned developments could strengthen city finances.

In 2011, sales tax revenues increased almost 10 percent from 2010, but only due to sales tax on construction, mostly related to Swedish/Issaquah.

However, the city received about $6.1 million in revenue through March, down 6 percent — or $393,286 — from the same period a year ago. The figure includes sales tax revenue, building permits, grants and other funding sources.

The construction of Swedish/Issaquah bolstered the 2011 total.

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City adds Economic Vitality Commission, but could shrink other boards

May 1, 2012

City leaders appointed a group of civic-minded citizens to boards and commissions April 16, although the number of positions could shrink in the months ahead.

In a unanimous decision, City Council members appointed applicants to openings on 12 boards and commissions. The groups advise the council on issues related to the arts, cable TV, development, parks and, in more specialized realms, city cemetery operations and sister-city relationships.

The decision included the inaugural appointees to the municipal Economic Vitality Commission, a key piece in a renewed focus on attracting and retaining businesses.

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Swedish/Issaquah earns Building of the Year honor

April 3, 2012

Swedish/Issaquah earned the Building of the Year title in a recent poll of Seattle Daily Journal of Commerce readers.

Swedish Medical Center announced the honor March 26.

The $365 million hospital opened in July 2011. The initial phase encompassed clinics and offices spread across 200,000 square feet in a medical office building. The entire facility encompasses 528,000 square feet.

In November, Swedish/Issaquah opened patient beds and started offering inpatient services. The facility is licensed for up to 175 beds.

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Swedish/Issaquah does not expect layoffs amid budget crisis

March 27, 2012

Swedish Medical Center executives defended the decision to open a $365 million Issaquah hospital as the health care system loses $250,000 per day and girds for possible employee layoffs.

Systemwide, Seattle-based Swedish lost $16 million so far in 2012. Executives attributed the loss to higher health-insurance deductibles and the anemic economy. Both factors cause commercially insured patients to delay health care.

Swedish is also treating more uninsured and underinsured patients as the state and federal governments cut health care funding.

Swedish has more than 11,000 employees at hospitals in Edmonds, Issaquah and Seattle, plus a network of standalone emergency rooms and clinics in the Puget Sound region.

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Few changes for patients in Providence-Swedish affiliation agreement

March 27, 2012

The partnership between Providence Health & Services and Swedish Health Services should not affect services at Issaquah health care facilities, officials said as the organizations completed a groundbreaking affiliation agreement.

Through the affiliation, Providence and Swedish plan to operate as the Western Washington Region of Providence Health & Services. The organization encompasses all Swedish operations in King and Snohomish counties, plus Providence operations in King, Snohomish, Thurston and Lewis counties.

The entities operate Providence Marianwood, a 25-year-old nursing home, and 8-month-old Swedish/Issaquah in the city.

“Swedish/Issaquah is a community hospital focused on the community needs here,” Chuck Salmon, chief executive for Swedish/Issaquah and ambulatory care, said after the Feb. 1 announcement. “At this point, my direction is, ‘Don’t change a thing. You guys are doing fine.’ There should be really no change at all as perceived by the public.”

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Knee surgery goes robotic at Swedish/Issaquah

March 20, 2012

Jeff Pochop, 69, of Bellevue, is happy to be back on his feet so quickly after orthopedic knee surgery with the new MAKOplasty robotic system helped give him a partial knee replacement Jan. 20. By David Hayes

Jeff Pochop said he plans to be physically active until he’s at least 100 years old. Now 69, the former athlete stays fit biking and hiking so he can attend his annual fishing and hunting trips with his buddies.

Unfortunately, an old football injury had been slowing him down lately — he partially tore an interior ligament in his left knee while playing football for the Harvard Crimson back in the 1960s.

Temporary fixes were no longer working — he’d had an orthoscopic procedure to clean it up about 20 years ago and a series of rooster comb injections about six months ago. It was starting to affect his tennis game and his outings hunting chucker and pheasant.

“Even my hunting buddies had noticed I’d developed a limp,” the Bellevue resident said.

So he went back to the well one more time. His doctor, orthopedic surgeon Gregory Komenda, had also operated on injuries to Pochop’s shoulder and elbow. And the timing couldn’t have been better to try something new — robotics.

Pochop became one of Swedish/Issaquah’s first patients to be operated on using MAKOplasty. It’s a new partial resurfacing procedure developed to treat early- to mid-stage osteoarthritis, a viable alternative to total knee replacement or traditional manual partial knee resurfacing, Komenda said.

A surgeon with Proliance Orthopedic & Sports Medicine for the past 15 years, Komenda has been performing MAKOplasty at Swedish’s Seattle location for a little over a year.

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Swedish Medical Center earns honor for ‘green’ landscaping practices

March 6, 2012

Swedish Medical Center landscapers improved the environment — and the organization’s bottom line.

The landscaping staff at Swedish/First Hill worked to qualify as a 5-Star EnviroStars group — a designated awarded to organizations based on a demonstrated commitment to reducing hazardous materials and waste.

Swedish joined more than 700 EnviroStars businesses in the area.

Several facilities in the Swedish system had a contract for spraying fungicides and insecticides on shrubs and trees. But as staffers examined the plants, soil conditions showed in need of spraying — such as aphid infestations — had disappeared. Once regular pesticide spraying stopped, birds returned to keep insect populations under control.

Swedish’s switch to the integrated pest management system saved about $10,000 per year.

The integrated pest management program is in use at Swedish/Issaquah, the 7-month-old hospital in the community, and other campuses.

“It is imperative that medical centers focus on health outside of their facilities, as well as on the inside,” said Liesl Zappler, landscape coordinator for Swedish/First Hill. “Being organic protects patients, visitors and staff, as well as the environment, and we have been able to do this at a significant cost savings.”

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