Hospital impresses visitors

EVERETT — Rick and Ludy Tapia were among more than 6,000 of visitors to get a glimpse behind the gleam of Snohomish County’s tallest building over the weekend.

Curiosity and appreciation for the hospital treatment each has received in the past led the south Everett couple to take a tour of the new 12-floor Cymbaluk Medical Tower on the Providence Regional Medical Center Everett campus.

“It looks a lot different from six years ago,” Rick Tapia said. “I’m impressed.”

Rick Tapia, 78, said he spent about five days at Providence after receiving emergency quadruple bypass surgery; Ludy, 77, stayed two nights at the hospital after doctors inserted two stents to allow her a better flow of blood and oxygen.

The Tapias explored several floors Saturday and were struck by the enormity of the new addition, the large number of single rooms with views of mountains and the water, and the 79 emergency treatment rooms.

“This is wonderful,” Ludy said. “It’s so big.”

On both days, about 200 people lined up outside the tower before it was scheduled to open for tours. The Seahawks Blue Thunder drum line entertained the early arrivals both days.

The tour-takers were a mix of employees and their families, retired Providence workers, former patients and local residents who just wanted to see what was inside the big glass building with more than 16 acres of floor space.

“It’s nice to get the opportunity to go see an operating room without being on a gurney,” said Mark Indrebo, a Marysville dad who was joined by his son, Jack, 7, and daughter, Catherine, 3.

Indrebo described new, cutting-edge imaging technology as “like something straight out of ‘Star Wars.’ “

The construction project, which is being financed by 40-year health care bonds, cost $460 million. Of that total, $60 million was invested in technology and equipment.

The open house had small personal touches. In many of the rooms, large teddy bears — one was nearly 7 feet tall — played the role of patients. The hospital considered using mannequins, but thought the soft, stuffed animals would be more friendly for small children.

Dave Brooks, CEO at Providence Regional Medical Center, spent much of his weekend answering questions and fielding comments about the hospital with a hotel feel.

One person told him: “It’s so non-institutional.”

That was by design, Brooks said. Hospital leaders enlisted design advice from doctors, nurses and other staff as well as patients, their families and people who live in the community.

The tower will be a step up for emergency room patients, Everett Fire Department Capt. Dave Edmonds said.

Edmonds spent his Saturday afternoon with other firefighters giving demonstrations of fire and medic equipment in the new ambulance bay off 14th Street.

“The ER has been so overcrowded and so busy. What they have now is so much bigger,” he said. “They’re going to have much more room to work with patients.”

An entire floor is devoted to emergency services and each of the 79 treatment rooms is designed to accommodate families.

Come 5 a.m. Tuesday, the emergency rooms are scheduled to be put into use for the first time.

Anticipation for the tower opening went beyond hospital staff.

Some patients waited to schedule procedures.

“We have had people who want to be the first one to get their surgery here,” hospital spokeswoman Cheri Russum said.

Eric Stevick: 425-339-3446, stevick@heraldnet.com.

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