According to Gov. Christine Gregoire, the other Washington should be paying attention to plans for Issaquah’s new hospital.
Gregoire made the most of the Swedish/Issaquah hospital groundbreaking ceremony in the Issaquah Highlands Oct. 12 by burnishing the state’s credentials as a leader in medical care policy and technology.
Seizing on the national health care focus, Gregoire said the $200 million, 175-bed hospital was a model of good, high-quality medical services that responded directly to the needs of not just Issaquah, but the nation as a whole.
“It’s time for us to stand up in this country and stop the divisiveness that I’ve seen in Washington D.C.,” she said. “(We) understand it is time to do what Swedish and this community is doing and saying ‘we need affordable, accessible high-quality health care for all the members of this community.’”
She praised the hospital’s plans for using electronic medical records, state-of-the-art communications technology and environmental building design. But Gregoire also used the opportunity to tout the state’s Basic Health Plan and complain about draconian cuts earlier this year that left 63,000 qualified members off the program’s rolls.
“We have a system in America today that is upside down,” she said. “We pay for treatments and procedures with little regard for the outcome of the patient. It’s time for us to start understanding it’s not about visits to the doctor, it’s about outcomes for the patient. That’s what Washington state is trying to do.”
Gregoire, Issaquah Mayor Ava Frisinger and Swedish Hospital officials spoke at the event, attended by approximately 400 people under a tent near the planned building site.
Swedish Senior Vice President Kevin Brown, who serves as project manager for the new hospital and is himself an Issaquah resident, spoke first and introduced current Swedish/Issaquah Director of Operations Chuck Salmon and Director of Medical Services Dr. John Milne, who will both head to the new hospital when complete. Brown said Swedish had been working since 2004 to plan for the new hospital as a response to the strong demand seen at its present Issaquah facility, soon to be renamed Swedish/Lake Sammamish.
“If you live in the community, you know the community has embraced the services,” he said.
Gregoire also observed that Issaquah was the largest city in Western Washington without a full-service hospital.
“Swedish saw the needs of the community and stepped up,” she said.
The new hospital will be built in phases, starting with an ambulatory care center and medical office building targeted to open in summer 2011, followed by the first phase of the hospital in 2012.
In addition, Swedish officials and civic leaders have trumpeted the economic boost the new facility would provide the Issaquah-Sammamish area. At least 202 jobs would be created by the end of next year, gradually increasing as newly constructed offices are built and filled by nurses, doctors and other hospital staff. By completion, Swedish predicted 1,097 jobs would be staffed as a direct result of the new Medical Center. More than 750 of those jobs are directly related to health care services.