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Snoqualmie Valley Hospital closing North Bend, Fall City clinics

The Snoqualmie Valley Hospital is closing its clinics in Fall City and North Bend.

Described by hospital officials as a consolidation, the closures leave King County Hospital District No. 4’s clinics and hospital in Snoqualmie intact.

North Bend Medical Clinic closed Friday, July 16. Fall City Medical Clinic closes at the end of this month.

“This decision was intended to keep us in the black,” said Kim Witkop, Snoqualmie Valley Hospital’s Vice President for Medical Affairs.

Together, the clinics employed six people. Some of the employees, which included receptionists, medical assistants, nurse practitioners, physicians and physicians’ assistants, may be transfered to Snoqualmie clinics. Some will be laid off, Witkop said.

North Bend and Fall City both housed primary care clinics. Fall City was also the site of a chronic pain clinic.

Both facilities were busy, but neither were at full capacity, Witkop said. The district’s Snoqualmie facilities can accommodate their services, she added.

The two clinics had been open for five years. North Bend was about halfway to the break-even point, while Fall City was within about 80 percent of profitability, according to Hospital Administrator Rodger McCollum.

The hospital district was profitable in 2009, but has seen a loss in 2010. The closures were partly intended to put the district on a stable financial footing.

“The district doesn’t need to subsidize clinics when there are other primary care choices available,” such as Meadowbrook Urgent Care Clinic or Swedish clinics, McCollum said.

“As a district, we don’t have to own everything. We want to make sure it is provided for,” he added. “It makes sense to deliver better, more efficient care.”

The closures come at a time when hospitals nationwide are bracing for national reform.

“There is no way that we’re going to be able to comply with health care reform and afford the things we are doing today in the future without being more efficient,” McCollum said.

Over the next two years, Snoqualmie Valley Hospital plans to start new team-based medicine and digital information exchange programs.

McCollum said the district envisions a future Carnation clinic, and will keep a presence in North Bend and Fall City in other ways. The hospital district provides a nurse at both the Mount Si and Sno Valley Senior Center, providing education programs there.

“Anything that affects the entire Valley, we continue to participate in,” Witkop said.

According to the King County Assessor’s Office, Hospital District 4 is funded through a 45 cent property tax levy and a 16 cent bond issue.

In 2008, the hospital closed its Maple Valley clinic.

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