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Snoqualmie Hospital to reopen in January
SNOQUALMIE _ After two years in the waiting, the Snoqualmie
Valley Hospital will reopen sometime in January, a hospital district official
The details are currently being worked out, with permits being
filed and tasks assigned. There is much to do to get the hospital open again,
but surprisingly, a grand opening should occur shortly after Jan. 1, said
Jeff Lyle, King County Hospital District 4 superintendent.
The entity that the district partnered up with for reopening
is called Snoqualmie Regional Hospital (SRH), a non-profit organization
that will lease the facility and its beds.
The organization was formed by Northwest Care, an
assisted-living company based on Brainbridge
Island, for the sole purpose of operating the hospital.
The hospital district is currently negotiating with Northwest Care
to develop the hospital's campus. This will fulfill the master site plan
developed by the community advisory board set up in the early 1980s.
The plan will include an 85-bed assisted-living facility and a few medical
buildings. Extending Ethan Wade Way to provide better access to the hospital
is also in the company's plans.
Lyle sees the expansion as a positive move that will benefit Valley
residents in the area of health care.
"We'll also be creating jobs and providing an assisted-living
community. It will be a symbiotic relationship," between the hospital and
the Valley, she said.
The partnership between SRH and the hospital district was formed
just in time. The hospital's "certificate of need," a document displaying
intent to operate, expires Dec. 31 of this year. If no agreement had been reached
by the deadline, the building would have stood vacant and would have
been unable to open as a hospital, pending another certificate of need process.
To start out with, the facility will offer a number of outpatient
services, such as physical therapy, outpatient day surgery, physical and
emotional care for the elderly and more in-depth check-ups for Valley residents
with conditions like asthma or pneumonia, which don't require surgery.
At first, the hospital will not have an emergency room, act as an
emergency clinic or provide obstetric services. Patients will need to be
admitted by their doctors and health practitioners it's not a walk-in setup.
When the demand arises in the future, as Lyle said he expects it
to, more services will be added.
By the expansion of services and the construction of the other
medical facilities on campus, Lyle sees this re-opening as being the hospital's last.
The hospital was built and opened in 1983, and was operated by the
Sisters of Saint Joseph of Peace until 1993. In 1994, the hospital district
re-opened the facility and ran it until June of 1997, when it closed once again.
"There were a number of factors [in its closing], a major one being
financial," Lyle said.
Since then, district officials have sought a partnership with a health
organization that would lease the building and provide viable hospital
services for Valley residents.
Lyle was hired in 1998 as the superintendent to "tie up loose ends,"
he explained, and find another use for the facility.
But the new district official didn't want to give up hope on bringing
plans for the hospital alive again.
The board of hospital district commissioners also met at least once
a month for two years to find a solution for the vacant hospital. Members
include Fritz Ribary, North Bend; Cynthia Johnson, Fall City;
Dick Jones and Joan Young, Carnation; and Carol Hoch, from Snoqualmie.
"And it's not a thankful job,
either," Lyle said. "They've taken a lot of
grief from the community about the closure of the hospital."
"None of the incumbent [hospital district] commissioners have
accepted their state-authorized stipend for the last two years because they felt
it wasn't right to be paid for this," Lyle added, explaining that the
stipend would have been approximately $1,000 per commissioner, per year.
For the past two years, Lyle has worked with 11 companies,
ranging from cancer treatment centers a bariatric surgery company.
For various reasons, the proposals did not work out.
This fall, a plan was finally worked out with SRH.
Now, Lyle hopes the past is behind the Valley and the future will
hold great things for the hospital.
"[We're going to] offer a lot of what the community advisory
committee saw in their vision in the early 80s, late 70s, back when this
[hospital] was planned," he said.