Swedish Hospital’s latest move: emergency clinic near Mill Creek

Swedish Health Service plans to open a $30 million emergency room later this year south of Everett, the first of its kind in Snohomish County.

The new facility is part of a three-story medical building that will be constructed near the intersection of I-5 and 128th St. SE in south Everett at the site of the county’s last drive-in movie theater.

The emergency room, to be called Swedish/Mill Creek, is expected to employ 130 people. Swedish says the facility has the capacity to treat as many as 35,000 people a year.

It marks a new development in emergency room care, designed to treat the cuts, broken bones, sports injuries and viruses that now swamp hospital emergency rooms, particularly on nights and weekends.

Hospitals must try to juggle these cases while tending to trauma, heart attack and stroke patients who arrive at their doors in ambulances. Patients with less serious problems can end up waiting.

The new emergency room will be roughly halfway between the two closest hospitals, about 10 miles from Providence Regional Medical Center Everett to the north and about 8 miles from Stevens Hospital in Edmonds to the south.

“We took a broad look at the Puget Sound region, looking for areas where families were having to drive a significant distance for emergency room and other health care services,” said Kevin Brown, a Swedish senior vice president.

“When you looked at it from the geographic perspective, Mill Creek was one that stood out as being underserved.”

People in that area have to drive 15 to 30 minutes to get emergency room care, Brown said. The goal is to bring health care services closer to home.

Construction on the 86,770-square-foot building at 13020 Meridian Ave. SE could begin next month or in early March. It is expected to be completed in eight to nine months, said Eric Oliner, with Hammes Co., of Brookfield, WI, which will manage and own the building.

Swedish, based in Seattle, will lease two floors, or 55,000-square-feet of space, for clinical programs including an emergency room with 18 exam rooms.

It will have advanced diagnostic imaging, such as X-ray, ultrasound, a CT scan and MRI.

It will also have on-site laboratory services, primary care and specialty care services.

Patients will be treated for a maximum of 23 hours and either sent home or taken to area hospitals. It will be open 24 hours a day, unlike walk-in clinics.

The building’s third floor will be used for general medical offices, which could be leased by other medical groups.

The 4.9-acre parcel is now home to the Puget Park Drive-In and popular weekly swap meets that operate from spring until fall.

The medical building will provide both a short- and long-term job boost in a county still smarting over The Boeing Company’s decision to open a new 787 assembly line in South Carolina.

Over the next year, nearly 200 new construction-related jobs will be created, Swedish officials say. An estimated 130 new health care employees will be hired to work at the site.

“We think it will be great for the local economy,” Brown said.

Swedish officials say it will be very similar to the satellite emergency room it opened in Issaquah in March 2005, which now treats about 23,000 patients a year.

“This is an emergency room, but not a trauma center,” said Dr. John Milne, a Swedish medical director. Patients with major injuries from auto accidents or with serious medical conditions such as heart attacks or strokes will be taken to traditional hospital emergency rooms.

So-called stand-alone or satellite emergency rooms, meaning a facility not on the same site as a hospital, are part of a national trend.

Some 188 hospitals, about 4.5 percent of hospitals nationally, have off-site emergency rooms, according to the American Hospital Association.

These emergency rooms offer some types of emergency care without the long waits that can occur in hospital emergency rooms, where the most serious, life-threatening cases get treated first.

“When you come into the facility, you are greeted by staff and taken right to a treatment room,” Brown said.

Paired with plans, still pending, to have Swedish lease Stevens Hospital in Edmonds, it marks a major new advance into Snohomish County market by the Seattle-based health care system, one of the state’s largest.

“They’re definitely changing the (competitive) landscape, there’s no doubt about that,” said Rick Cooper, chief executive of The Everett Clinic.

Providence Regional Medical Center Everett will open a new emergency department as part of its new $600 million medical tower scheduled to open next year.

The 67,460-square-foot emergency department will have the capacity to treat up to 150,000 patients a year.

Upgrades to Stevens Hospital’s emergency room, will likely be part of the improvements planned at the hospital, although details won’t be available until the affiliation agreement between the two organizations is approved.

Although the Swedish emergency room will provide competition to his organization’s walk-in clinics, including those nearby in Silver Lake and Mill Creek, “It’s really kind of an exciting time from my point of view,” Cooper said.

“The competitive landscape is changing. There will be more choices. It’s our hope … the consumer will benefit from that.”

Sharon Salyer: 425-339-3486 or salyer@heraldnet.com

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