EVERETT — More than 150 years ago, five Catholic nuns arrived in Western Washington on a mission to help heal the sick.
None could have imagined where their efforts would lead.
On Wednesday, a crowd of about 300 gathered at Providence Regional Medical Center Everett for the dedication of its new 12-story, $460 million tower, which will open next week.
The Most Reverend J. Peter Sartain, the new archbishop of Seattle, led the ceremony before taking a floor-by-floor tour to sprinkle holy water throughout the building.
“It’s a great joy for me to bless this expanded facility today,” Sartain told the audience. “It’s fitting we take time today to offer this building to God. We ask God’s blessing on all those who are patients here or those who care for the sick.”
Sartain, 59, is one of the youngest, and newest, archbishops in the United States. He was appointed Sept. 16. He oversees parishes in Western Washington from Oregon to the Canadian border, including 95,600 Catholics in Snohomish County.
In previous visits to Snohomish County, he visited parishes in Everett and Edmonds.
On Wednesday, Sartain spoke to the invitation-only crowd, most of whom were standing in the new tower’s large atrium.
Among them were Marshall and Katherine Cymbaluk, the longtime owners of an Everett truck dealership, who announced a $5 million donation to the project in January. The medical tower is named in the Cymbaluks’ honor.
Several members of the Sisters of Providence, whose founders arrived in Washington in 1856, led in prayers of healing. It was members of their order who bought the Monte Cristo Hotel in downtown Everett in 1904 for $50,000. They reopened it as a hospital for the community.
Providence is now one of the largest hospitals in the state. It has 3,500 employees. It has one of the state’s busiest emergency rooms with more than 110,000 patient visits last year.
The new medical tower is the most expensive single construction project ever undertaken by Providence Health & Services, the parent organization of the Everett hospital, which operates 28 hospitals in five western states.
Following the 25-minute blessing ceremony, Sartain went on the hospital tour with a smaller entourage to sprinkle the holy water.
The first stop was at the top of the medical tower, the landing area for helicopters that will bring seriously injured and ill patients to the hospital for treatment.
Sartain then walked past patient rooms, toured its surgical floors, and smiled as he walked into, and blessed, a children’s play area in one of the medical tower’s large waiting rooms.
The tour ended on the ground floor, in the mammoth emergency department, nearly the size of a football field, with 79 single patient treatment rooms.
At the end of the tour, a group of Sisters of Providence nuns, many of whom are retired, eagerly awaited a chance to talk with Sartain. They serenaded him with a Sisters of Providence song. Sartain then posed with them for group photos.
As he turned to leave, Sartain spotted 47-year-old Sandra Mejia of Mill Creek sitting nearby in a wheelchair.
Mejia said she had been hospitalized for a week, and asked her husband and a friend who was helping with her discharge Wednesday to take her to the blessing ceremony.
Sartain kneeled beside her and put his hand on her forehead in blessing.
Mejia is bilingual, and much of their quiet conversation was in Spanish.
But after he left, she explained that she had been sick for three months before going to Providence.
Because of her illness, Mejia had missed seeing the archbishop during a visit he made to a local parish.
The time Sartain spent with her left Mejia beaming and wiping away tears of joy.
“Wow!” Amazing,” Mejia said. “So special.”
Sharon Salyer: 425-339-3486; firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tour the tower
The public will get its first chance to tour the new tower during an open house from noon to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The tower is at 1700 13th St. in Everett. Parking will be available in the hospital’s parking garage as well as a graveled lot next to the hospital campus.
Pacific campus ER to close June 16
Providence Regional Medical Center Everett’s emergency room at 916 Pacific Ave. is scheduled to close at 5 a.m. June 16, two days after the hospital opens its $460 million medical tower, about two miles away at 1700 13th St. For the first week after the closure of the Pacific Avenue emergency room, the hospital will have an ambulance parked out front. Crews will hand out maps to direct people to the new emergency room.
The hospital’s emergency department will be consolidated at the new 13th Street building. The 67,460-square-foot emergency department will be located on its ground floor.
Archbishop of Seattle J. Peter Sartain
Sartain oversees parishes in Western Washington from the Oregon to the Canadian border, including 95,600 Catholics in Snohomish County. He was appointed as Seattle archbishop Sept. 16 and installed Dec. 1.
Birthplace: Memphis, Tenn.
Ordained into the priesthood: July 15, 1978
First assignment: Associate pastor, Our Lady of Sorrows Church, Memphis
Previously served as bishop of the Diocese of Joliet in Illinois and the bishop of Little Rock.
Personal interests: Fishing, spiritual reading and writing. He has published a book of his columns called “Of You My Heart Has Spoken.”