New Snoqualmie Valley Hospital May Open as Overlake Medical Center; Hospital Construction

There is a lot happening with the Snoqualmie Valley’s new hospital. Construction continues on the new facility near Snoqualmie Ridge, but there is now a chance it will open as Overlake Medical Center.

Overlake Medical Center Could Buy Soon-to-Open SnoqualmieValley Hospital

Snoqualmie Valley Hospital (SVH) District announced on July 3, 2014, that the Board of Commissioners signed a non-binding Letter of overlake logoIntent (LOI) to pursue an affiliation with Overlake Medical Center. According to the LOI, Overlake would purchase or lease the new hospital from the developer, Benaroya Companies, and operate the facility.

The hospital board voted 4-1 to sign the Letter of Intent, with Commissioner Gene Pollard voting no. Pollard stated he objects to the possible affiliation being pushed “without transparency and sufficient opportunity for the pubic to consider pros and cons.”

According to a SVH press release, “The organizations share a common vision to expand health care services in Snoqualmie Valley through enhanced specialty care and hospital services. This affiliation would ensure a strong health care system in the Valley for generations to come.”

“The Hospital District and Overlake have worked collaboratively for decades,” said Rodger McCollum, CEO of Snoqualmie Valley Hospital District. “By combining resources and services, the hospital will be well positioned to meet future health care challenges while integrating access to high quality care for patients throughout the Valley.”

McCollum explained that due to health care reform, many hospitals nationwide are affiliating in order to streamline healthcare and make it more affordable. He worries that if the Snoqualmie Valley Hospital doesn’t explore such affiliation, it could become “orphaned” in the future.

Final agreements are contingent upon extensive due diligence and regulatory approval, a process that could take several months, with McCollum saying November 2014 is possible.  The new hospital is scheduled to open in early 2015.

Snoqualmie Valley Hospital Construction Continues on Track for Spring 2015 Opening

Monday morning, June 30, 2014, the new Snoqualmie Valley Hospital, which is currently under construction, placed the new focal architectural piece on top of the building.

This tower cap piece sits over the hospital’s front entryway, located on the southeast corner of the hospital. The tower cap is translucent in order to allow for maximum natural light in the new facility. Multiple other windows throughout the new hospital create a lighter environment for patients and staff.

The new Snoqualmie Valley hospital, as of right now, is still on track to open late first quarter 2015. It will be relocated from its current, more difficult to find location on West North Bend Way to a more easily accessible location along I-90 near SR 18.

There will be many new accommodations unique to the new facility, as opposed to the current one. It has been designed for easy navigation with central hallways and large architectural landmarks that carry though both the first and second floor.

One such landmark is a large, see-through floor-to-ceiling fireplace that stretches the entire length of the 1st floor waiting area and cafeteria.The fireplace will continue into the building’s second floor, making it easy for people to know what part of the building they are in.

The two-story building more than doubles the size of the current Snoqualmie Valley hospital, increasing from 29,000 square feet to 67,000 square feet. The 30-year-old hospital, with multiple entry points and a maze of confusing hallways, is being replaced by a larger, clean-cut light-filled space.

The current Snoqualmie Valley hospital will become property of the Snoqualmie Tribe upon opening of the new facility.

New, Improved Hospital Features

The new hospital’s increased space will feature more in-patient rooms, going from 14 double rooms to 25 single rooms, which will help accommodate more “swing-bed” patients—those who are technically eligible to be released from area hospitals, but are not yet prepared or able to care for themselves. Hospital officials say there is a big need for swing-bed space on the Eastside that the new facility will help fill.

The new facility will have a decontamination room – something required  in case of chemical accidents, but that commonly goes unused in most hospitals, often ending up  a storage room. In order to maximize the efficiency of the space, the decontamination room in the new hospital will also double as an isolation room to be used when a patient is in need of quarantine. This room can also be used for overflow when the hospital has too many patients.

Not only will there be more space and improvements for patients, but also for hospital staff. The nurses’ stations will be about six times larger, providing more space to complete paperwork and manage patient care.

There will also be a break room for EMTs, missing at the current hospital and something present at most other area hospitals, as well as a new on-call room for ER doctors to rest when needed, as shifts can last as long as 36 hours.

Other improvements include a centrally located imaging center on the main floor;  a “telecommuting” room where doctors can have computer teleconferences with specialty physicians across the area; a main floor primary care clinic area; and more parking.

SVH officials say the new Snoqualmie Valley Hospital will create a more spacious and efficient environment for patient care, providing the Snoqualmie Valley with easily accessible care for any medical problem or emergency.

Entry to new Snoqualmie Valley Hospital currently under construction near I-90 and SR 18

Entry to new Snoqualmie Valley Hospital currently under construction near I-90 and SR 18

Architectural 'tower cap' piece being placed over entryway to new Snoqualmie Valley Hospital which opens March 2015

Architectural ‘tower cap’ piece being placed over entryway to new Snoqualmie Valley Hospital which opens March 2015

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[Snoqualmie Valley Hospital, a Top 20 Critical Access Hospital for Quality, delivers health care in a collaborative environment. The hospital, clinics, specialty providers and regional partners work together to provide outpatient and inpatient services for residents of Carnation, Fall City, Preston, Snoqualmie, North Bend and Snoqualmie Pass. For more information, visit www.SVHD4.org.

Overlake Medical Center is a non-profit, non-tax-supported regional medical center with a network of primary care, specialty and urgent care medical clinics throughout the Eastside. The hospital is licensed for 349 beds and offers a comprehensive range of services, including cardiac care, cancer care, general and specialty surgery, women’s programs, senior care and psychiatric services. It was the first Level III trauma service on the Eastside. For more information, visit www.overlakehospital.org.]

Comments

  1. Then we would be able to do away with the Hospital District tax we residents pay? From Overlake Hospital web page: “As a nonprofit hospital receiving no public tax support, Overlake relies on your gifts to provide exceptional care for our patients and families.”

    • Jill Green says

      You are correct in that Overlake would not receive tax support from Snoqualmie Valley residents. However, the Public Hospital District has outstanding debt incurred during the previous two decades that existing tax revenue is obligated towards. Hospital taxes will remain until this debt is paid off. The Commissioners may decide to pay down a portion of this debt early.

      • Why can’t the sale of the hospital include paying off the debt and relieve the burden from the taxpayers? And you know this because?????
        Snoqualmie Joe

      • In the interest of transparency and accountability, I would suggest that Jill Green, Fritz Ribrary, and other employees of the PR and marketing machine at Snoqualmie Valley Hospital (King County Public Hospital District #4), as well as the “general counsel” (Jay Rodne), other hospital executives, members of the hospital’s foundation, and hospital contractors and vendors ALWAYS identify their connection to the district each time they opine in the public media on hospital issues. That’s only fair.

        In the case of Ms. Green, few who read her comment know that she is actually the district’s Public Information Officer at a cost of about $100,000/year (including benefits).[Note: Salaries and other hospital records (except for medical records exempted by HIPPA) are public information and must be released upon request under the State’s Open Public Records Act (OPRA).]

        Ms. Green is a competent person, as one would expect of an employee so highly compensated, but she’s just part of the district’s PRopaganda operation costing taxpayers, directly or indirectly, about three-quarters of a million dollars each year (advertising, PR, outreach, “community relations,” marketing promotion and gimmicks, etc.).

        Readers may remember “credit-default swaps” that some say led to the recent national recession. What we have with the Overlake scheme is a “hospital-default swap.” It involves a “Hail Mary pass” by a hospital district facing almost certain bankruptcy and trying for a touchdown before Valley people can get to the line of scrimmage–hauntingly similar to the $14 million give-away to the Snoqualmie Tribe two years ago in a secretly negotiated deal contaminated by conflicts-of-interest.

        How can this latest boondoggle happen? Because of a weak, co-opted, easily manipulated, and gutless rubber-stamp board AND a devious, ego-driven, self-serving narcissistic administration bent on forcing a $38.6 million new hospital (plus another $7 million to equip it) down the throats of Valley people. Yet it will not add a single bed. In 2007, voters rejected a new hospital by 69%, even before Swedish/Issaquah was on the drawing boards.

        The proposed take-over is just the latest district Ponzi scheme designed to (1) avoid bankruptcy as revenues steadily decline and expenses increase; (2) continue collecting taxes to pay the district’s top-heavy staff and service the outstanding debt–even if a sale goes through, the debt remains; (3) avoid embarassment of an administration responsible for long-term debt totalling $40 million that resulted from poor judgment, ignoring public opinion, fraud, waste, and abuse—and serious conflicts of interest.

        Doesn’t it make emminent sense that any sale of the hospital must include assumption of the district’s outstanding debt? Isn’t this a unique opportunity, possibly never to be repeated, to end the hospital taxation of Valley residents? Neither residents of Issaquah (where Swedish/Issaquah is located) nor residents of Bellevue (the location of Overlake) pay hospital taxes.

        Why should residents of the less affluent rural areas of King County be forced to pay taxes to service the debt, pay the salaries of executives responsible for that debt, allow exploitation of the hospital’s borrowing capacity as a municipal corporation, and profit from the district’s critical access hospital designation. Center for Medicare/Medicaid Services (CMS), the State Auditor, the Department of Health, and the Attorney General’s office should thoroughly investigate the shinnigans and schemes of both parties in the proposed deal. Granting a Certificate of Need (CoN) by the Washington State Department of Health would be, in my opinion, nothing short of criminal under the circumstances.

        Any deal with Overlake or other suitor should be a STRAIGHT DEAL or NO DEAL. In no case should it be the “dirty deal” now being promoted by the current district regime under the guise of a “noncommittal Letter of Interest.” Very tricky, very misleading, but there are other, smarter, and better options, Should the district use public funds to advertise and mislead the public, thereby manipulating the media. Good investigative reporting would blow this whole thing wide open. My question again to district leadership: “Have you no shame?”

        A CAUTION FOR OVERLAKE: I believe that the declining census at the hospital you’re attempting to acquire results from a pervasive feeling in the community that “things are just not right at that hospital.” It’s not the caregivers. They’re as good or better than those at Overlake and other area hospitals. It’s the district’s reputation for making decisions in the back room, in the dark, under the table, rather listening to the people and respecting their vote.

        If people of the Valley conclude that Overlake has taken advantage of a weak board and self-serving administration by using misleading advertising, PR flacks, and legal tricks, thereby effectively “stealing” the hospital district, Valley people turn even more to other providers, such as Swedish/Issaquah, EvergreenHealth, Valley Medical Center, Virginia Mason, the UW Medical Center and Clinics, and others.

        The obvious strategy by Overlake to leapfrog over Swedish/Issaquah to capture the fastest growing residential area in the State by acquiring a desperate hospital district “on the cheap” will be seen for what it is: exploitative and unethical.

        Similarly, to involve the district leaders later as employees, consultants, or board members as a reward for having delivered the district to Overlake would be regarded as part of the original motive. Does Overlake really want to take these risks? Overlake decision makers: Are you listening? Do you get the message? Remember the ancient proverb: “Forewarned is forearmed.”

        STRAIGHT DEAL or NO DEAL! Withdraw the “Letter of Intent” secretly negotiated with district administration and complicit board members as the DIRTY DEAL it is. Let’s start over in the sunlight with a clean sheet of paper on the table.

        I simply can’t imagine that Overlake decision-makers and supporters would want to risk their steller reputation being sullied by the tactics used to date.

        Gene Pollard
        Commissioner #4, KCPHD #4
        dba Snoqualmie Valley Hospital & Clinics

  2. Jill Green says

    Thank you for the reminder that it is important for me to identify myself as Public Information Officer for the Snoqualmie Valley Hospital District. I apologize for the oversight. Regarding the outstanding debt, any decisions will be up to the Snoqualmie Valley Hospital Board of Commissioners and the Overlake Board of Trustees as part of negotiations. The public is welcome to share their opinions during the regular monthly Board meetings or during the Board Strategic Planning Retreat on Thursday, Aug. 7. The retreat will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Cedar River Watershed Education Center, 19901 Cedar Falls Road S.E., North Bend. Discussions will include the possible Overlake affiliation and the future of the hospital district. This is a process that will be carried out over the next year and not a one-time meeting to decide and declare a final decision. The agenda for the retreat will be on our website at http://www.SVHD4.org as soon as it is finalized.
    Thank you,
    Jill Green, Public Information Officer
    Snoqualmie Valley Hospital District

  3. Dariel Norris says

    Hello Snoqualmie Joe,
    I am pleased to see your posting!!
    It is possible to pay off the bonds however, to do so would incur fines. To determine if a pay off is a good choice one would need to compare the penalty to the long turn interest that is incurred during the length of the loan. Early payoff can in some cases hurt credit ratings when seeking future bonds.
    As for the Public Health District 4 status there are a number of issues to consider. One: Public Funding. As long as there is a public health district, supported by taxes dollars there will be a Board of Commissioners to supervise the use of public funds.
    Two: a public hospital does not have to have a hospital. There are a good number of Public Health Districts in our state that do not have hospitals.
    There are other health services the district can provide that could be useful and beneficial for the Valley district. The trick will be, to ascertain what the community’s needs are and what the community would use. “USE” is the significant word in all of this discussion.
    I truly hope you and other community members will visit the board at the retreat on August 7th. We need your input.
    Dariel Norris
    Commissioner #4

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