Hospital district yet to ink contract

SNOQUALMIE - King County Public Hospital District No. 4 should finalize within a few weeks a formal agreement with Overlake Hospital Association to manage the Snoqualmie Valley Hospital.

During the past month, the district's board of commissioners have reviewed the contract, made adjustments and sent it back to Overlake officials. By the next district meeting on July 23, commissioners hope to have the contract signed.

The next obstacle to the hospital's reopening is insurance. To see as many patients as possible, the hospital is trying to do business with at least four of the larger insurance companies. The insurance companies would place the hospital on their rosters of facilities approved to provide care.

The district's commissioners have been waiting for five months for estimates from insurance carriers that will contract with the hospital, and have only received two. Once four or more insurance carriers are selected, the hospital can open its doors to medical patients, explained Jeff Lyle, district superintendent.

Currently the hospital's eight-bed senior behavioral health unit is open for Medicare patients.

When insurance carriers are chosen, the hospital will open one unit at a time, starting with outpatient surgery. The next unit to open will be labor and delivery, and eventually, hospital district officials expect to have a 24-hour emergency room.

"We need to do it a piece at a time because until people get used to the fact that the hospital has reopened and the new residents even know that there is a hospital here, it's not prudent to spend our money providing services and have staff sitting around with nothing to do," Lyle said. He added that he and the commissioners are hoping for an Aug. 1 opening.

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