Swedish hospital appeal delayed

A judge last week adjourned a hearing in the appeal of the certificate of need issued to Swedish Medical Center for a new 175-bed hospital in the Issaquah Highlands.

The matter is on hold while the judge determines what the scope of the hearing should be, said Brian Grimm, an attorney with Dorsey & Whitney working on Swedish’s behalf.

“It became clear that the parties had a key disagreement as to what the scope of the hearing was,” Grimm said.

Four hospitals, Snoqualmie Valley Hospital, Overlake Medical Center, Children’s Hospital and Regional Medical Center and Evergreen Healthcare, appealed the certificate of need, contending that the project will squeeze all of the available beds into just one location in Issaquah.

Overlake officials are waiting for the hearing to move forward, spokeswoman Karen Johnson said.

“We’ve been serving the Eastside communities for a long time. We’re committed to the Eastside and the residents here,” Johnson said.

Heidi Aylsworth, now the administrative director for orthopedics at Swedish but formerly involved in developing Swedish’s plans for Issaquah, said that hospital officials are moving forward with master planning for the 17.88-acre site in the Highlands.

“We’re just staying the course with the assumption that we will be granted all 175 beds,” Aylsworth said. “We knew it would be a long, litigative process and we know that tends to ebb and flow in different directions.”

Hospital officials are meeting regularly with staff members from Mahlum Architects, and also have organized a community advisory board.

Jim Berry, a Sammamish resident who sits on the board, said most of the discussions so far have been pretty conceptual, but that they have given their thoughts about what will matter to patients.

“In this era of increasing tech access, for somebody who’s in a hospital, that one-on-one care is what’s important,” Berry said. “The patient needs to know there’s a person around who’s paying attention to their needs.”

Grimm said that the petitioners are due to turn in a legal brief to the administrative health law judge today, and Swedish has a week to respond. The judge should rule on the hearing’s scope by May 19.

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