Snoqualmie Valley Hospital is all about change

Big changes are happening at the Snoqualmie Valley Hospital (King County Public Hospital District No. 4) as it develops plans for an expansion.

Services will not be affected during the expansion, according to hospital administrator Rodger McCullum.

One change the hospital was able to avoid recently was to its local services and those provided at the hospital's Maple Valley Medical Clinic in the wake of Proposition 1.

The recently vetoed Proposition 1 proposal by Valley Medical Center to expand its taxing district and levy new taxes into Maple Valley was shot down by 93 percent of the vote.

Prior to the May 16 vote by Southeast King County residents, the Snoqualmie Valley Hospital Board of Directors passed a position paper noting that if the measure were to pass, the Maple Valley clinic would most likely close, thus referral numbers from the Maple Valley clinic to the Snoqualmie hospital might have been affected.

This might have, in turn, affected the number of outpatient surgery options and imaging services (such as X-rays) the Snoqualmie Valley Hospital would be able to provide.

At the same time that Proposition 1 was being introduced, the Snoqualmie Valley Hospital was putting together the first stages of an $8 million expansion to its main facility in Snoqualmie.

The idea had been discussed for about a year, explained McCullum. About three or four months ago, development began.

"We've hit our capacity," McCullum said, noting that patient volumes have tripled since last year. "We're busy enough now we feel we can sustain the growth."

The year 2006 marked the first time that the 28-bed facility has been profitable in its 23 years of existence (it first opened in 1983 but due to financial issues, it closed in 1989, reopened in 1993, closed again in 1996 and opened again in 2000), McCullum said.

In May, the hospital even filled every one of its beds at the same time; though licensed for 28 beds, the hospital can currently only accommodate 20 beds because of structural space limitations.

The hospital needs to be able to accommodate the people it serves, McCullum said, noting that the expansion would also mean an upgrade for services and outpatient options.

"We want to deliver more efficient ... services," he said.

Outpatient services may include emergency, surgery and imaging.

Now in the final process of the design and currently working with the Department of Health and the city of Snoqualmie for review, McCullum said that if approved, construction could begin by October and be done by the middle of 2007.

This is the first renovation since the hospital opened.

Construction will be done in stages, so as to not affect services in any way, McCullum said.

"We will continue to operate just as we do now," he said.

The cost of the public hospital will be paid for through refinancing of existing monies and will not affect taxes, McCullum said.

Currently at 25,000 square feet, the hospital expects to add an additional 15,600 square feet to the main building with renovation set for 7,000 square feet, bringing the total building size at project completion to about 45,800 square feet.

The new design will create a new entryway, waiting room, destination corridor, additional parking, expansion of outpatient and imaging services and expansion of its emergency services center, as well as new landscaping.

Because of the new design, each of the allotted 28 beds will also be available for use.

"It makes it more efficient for us and more convenient for [those who use the hospital]," McCullum said.

The hospital has also propositioned the city of Snoqualmie for a new access road along 384th Avenue Southeast.

About the hospital, which owns about 50 acres of property, McCullum said he would like to see more development occur after this project has been completed, provided it is financially sound to do so.

The hospital currently has more than 12 specialists on staff and expects to add an orthopedic surgeon at the end of June, as well as an obstetrician/gynecologist starting this fall.

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