By Sharon Salyer Herald Writer
EDMONDS — When Swedish Health Services took over management of the former Stevens Hospital three years ago, the nonprofit promised to invest heavily in south Snohomish County.
The health care giant made good on its word, announcing the biggest part of its plans last month, including a splashy new, long-needed emergency room.
“I think this arrangement provides a solid foundation for meeting the health care demands for south Snohomish County over the next 10 years,” said Bob Knowles, chairman of the hospital district’s board.
Swedish’s plans include construction of a two-story, $63.5 million building scheduled to open at Swedish/Edmonds in 2015. It is the largest construction project at the hospital since its nine-story medical tower was built in 1972.
Overall, the building will have 77,000 square feet of space including a 7,600-square-foot lobby and atrium with retail space featuring lots of light and seating.
Nearly a third of the building has been allocated for the hospital’s new emergency room, which will have 29 exam rooms. The emergency facility has been on the hospital’s “wish list” for years.
That’s not the first major investment in the hospital by Seattle-based Swedish Health Services. The nonprofit has spent an additional $28 million since taking over administration of the former Stevens Memorial Hospital in September 2010.
The improvements were made throughout the hospital, including:
- A $2.6 million surgical robot to assist with hysterectomies and prostate surgeries;
- A $175,000 security system installed in the hospital’s maternity unit using electronic ankle bracelets that can automatically trigger locked hospital doors and elevators if there’s an attempt to remove a newborn from the unit before its discharge;
- A $700,000 cardiac imaging machine;
- A $5 million radiation therapy machine to treat cancer patients, called a linear accelerator, that is expected to ready for patients in November;
- A $12 million electronic medical records system, the single most expensive project in the past three years.
The digital records system allows patients initially treated at the Edmonds hospital to have their medical history instantly available to staff if they are treated at another Swedish facility or any other medical center using the same medical record system.
The changes are part of the improvements Swedish said it would make when it took over administration of the then-public hospital. Swedish agreed to make $90 million in general investments and $60 million in building improvements and expansion within 10 years.
In addition, a $10.9 million cancer center was opened in April on the hospital’s campus, part of the Swedish Cancer Institute.
Knowles said that having the hospital managed by Swedish has paved the way for building projects and an expansion of services at the hospital.
Fred Langer, a hospital board member who helped champion the management agreement with Swedish, said he feels that promises made when the deal was signed are being fulfilled.
As one example, Langer said that as a board member, he supported construction of a new emergency room for years. The question had always been how to pay for it.
The new emergency room will replace one originally built to treat 25,000 patients a year that last year provided care to more than 41,000 patients.
Construction is scheduled to begin in late spring or early summer of next year.
“It will upgrade emergency room services, create new jobs and enhance health care throughout the community,” Langer said.
This emergency room will have four exam rooms set aside to treat patients with mental health problems. The building also will house an urgent care center, which will provide quick medical care to patients who are sick but not injured or ill enough to need more expensive emergency room treatment.
The new building will open in stages, with the emergency room and urgent care center expected to open in the fall of 2015 and the overall project completed in 2016. The project will also include a parking garage with space for about 300 vehicles.
Despite competition in the area from other health care organizations “we’re getting an increasing amount of business coming our way,” said David Jaffe, Swedish/Edmonds’ chief executive. “The new facilities will make it that much more possible to grow.
“I’m looking at how quickly all the things that have done here since September 2010,” Jaffe said. “We’re in our third year here. It’s been a lot of stuff. The real beneficiaries are the people in the community.”
Sharon Salyer: 425-339-3486 or firstname.lastname@example.org