I have watched the hospital open and close several times over the last decade. Managers that I thought were cost conscious and understood the need for local medical services quickly disappointed and left with a pile of things to fix in their wake.
But a new leaf has emerged. The hospital district staff and commissioners seem to understand that we need a community hospital, but are also faced with the possibility that another, larger hospital will move in, holding us with a bag of future taxes.
Swedish Medical Center has shown it is willing to move to the suburbs to provide services. Overlake Hospital Medical Center seems to be focused on building the Bellevue empire.
To be effective and profitable in any business you have to be seen, branded and accessible. So, when hospital administrators and commissioners announced they were investigating the idea of moving the hospital to the I-90 corridor or a more suitable site, at first I thought it was a so-so idea. After all, they have one of the prettiest sites in the Valley. But the more I thought about it and the more I understood the reasons, the more it makes sense.
At some point, another major hospital will move this direction and will want to locate on the I-90 corridor. The highway 18 interchange seems a natural location for patients from Issaquah, Maple Valley and Snoqualmie Valley. I-90 visibility would be the best marketing available. After all, look at the behemoth that Overlake is building on I-405. The best advertising in the world is a spot on a major transportation corridor.
I applaud the hospital commissioners and administration for considering long-term alternatives. We need to find the correct solution to assure we always have a community hospital. I’m not sure I want to write about another closure.