By John Wolcott SCBJ Freelance Writer
SMOKEY POINT — The recognized strength and efficiency of health-care industry mergers is proving itself once again with the opening of the new Cascade Skagit Health Alliance medical center at Smokey Point in Arlington.
Built on the north side of 172nd Street NE east of Smokey Point Boulevard, the two-story facility opened March 26 to provide a broader range of health-care services for a growing and aging population in north Snohomish County.
Cascade Valley Hospital and Clinics in Arlington and Skagit Valley Hospital in Mount Vernon built the $12.2 million project. Andy Hall of Botesch, Nash &Hall in Everett was the architect and Synergy Construction Co. of Woodinville was the general contractor.
Rapid growth in the area in recent years made the former physicians’ clinic space at Smokey Point, in the Cumulus Office Park on Smokey Point Boulevard, a cramped space for medical staff.
With more than 31,000 patient visits a year at the clinic, staff had to function in only 9,000 square feet of space. Moving to the new 42,000-square-foot facility will provide much-needed room that will include additional staff, services and state-of-the-art medical equipment.
“This is a full-service ambulatory facility that also offers urgent care, extensive lab and imaging facilities and will also bring occupational therapy back to the community, a service that’s been missing for some time,” said Clark Jones, CEO of Cascade Valley Hospital and Clinics.
“Working with Skagit Valley Hospital, we’ll have specialists from there, too, as well as more Cascade Valley primary-care physicians, reconstructive surgery and later on even neurology,” he said. “We bought this land around 2003, knowing someday we’d need a larger clinic here. There’s space for up to 30 physicians and medical staff, although we won’t open with quite that many.”
The new center also offers patient access to cardiologists and Skagit Valley Hospital’s cancer-care service that has been located at Cascade Hospital for several years, Jones said.
Gregg Davidson, CEO of Skagit Valley Hospital, described the new health-care center as “a positive step forward for providing primary and specialized medical services. We’ve been working together with Cascade Valley Hospital for several years and have close relationships with them, which is a real advantage that helps us to provide better health care.”
For several years, Skagit Valley Hospital has had specialists working in the Arlington area, Davidson noted, adding that the new facility will introduce cardiologists, gastroenterology specialists and other sub-specialties that haven’t been available in the area before
“It’s really a win-win situation for patients of both organizations. This is a beautiful, state-of-the-art facility,” Davidson said.
The latest diagnostic imaging services, including MRI, X-ray, CT and ultrasound will be available in the facility, along with a laboratory, urgent-care services and a branch of the Arlington Pharmacy.
Jones said the facility will have electronic medical records storage and indexing so physicians in the new facility, the clinics and the two hospitals will have immediate access to patients’ information through a secure network.
The new facility, open seven days a week, will include 58 primary care exam rooms and 10 rooms for walk-in patients, compared to only 17 exam rooms at the Cumulus Office Park facility where Cascade Valley physicians and staffs worked before.
A tale of two hospitals
Cascade Valley Hospital and Skagit Valley Hospital have long histories in Snohomish and Skagit counties.
Cascade Valley Hospital and Clinics
The original Arlington General Hospital, built in 1909, was the first building erected specifically as a hospital in Snohomish County and served Arlington and residents in nearby communities through two world wars and years of community change and growth.
In 1958, a new hospital was built. It struggled financially in the early 1960s, until the community voted to form Public Hospital District No. 3 and tax themselves to provide medical services.
The district bought the existing hospital and renamed it Cascade Valley Hospital. It was expanded twice over the years as area population and patient loads grew, leading to creation of the North Snohomish County Health System in 1996. It’s known today as Cascade Valley Hospital and Clinics, with centers in Arlington, Smokey Point, Granite Falls and Darrington.
In 2010, as the hospital celebrated its first century of service to the area, a major expansion and renovation projects updated the facility with more patient facilities, including more beds and state-of-the-art medical equipment.
Related offices include Cascade Valley Arlington Women’s Health clinic, Cascade Valley Arlington Orthopaedics, Cascade Valley Arlington Pediatrics, Cascade Valley Arlington Surgery Center, Cascade Valley Wound Care Center, Cascade Valley Sleep Disorders Clinic, Granite Falls Clinic, Darrington Clinic and now the Cascade Skagit Health Alliance.
Skagit Valley Hospital
Skagit Valley Hospital in Mount Vernon provides an array of medical treatment around Skagit, Island and north Snohomish counties.
Programs include outpatient diagnostics, rehabilitation services, surgery, acute care, a Family Birth Center, heart and vascular care, orthopedic services and cancer treatment at its Regional Cancer Care Center.
Skagit’s Emergency Department is staffed 24 hours a day. It features a Level III trauma unit and 137 beds, all in private rooms.
The hospital has clinics in Mount Vernon, Stanwood, Camano Island, Arlington, Anacortes, Oak Harbor and Sedro-Woolley and offers outpatient specialty care, health education classes and wellness screenings.
Skagit Valley Hospital opened in 1958 after voters approved a bond issue to build a 100-bed hospital in 1955. The original building included what is known today as the first two floors of the southwest wing. A third floor was added in 1964 and a 40-bed northwest wing, including two operating rooms and a 10-bed recovery room, opened in February 1972, followed by a new diagnostic wing and emergency room in May 1987. The Skagit Valley Kidney Center opened in July 1998.
Skagit Valley Hospital worked under a joint operating agreement with United General Hospital in Sedro-Woolley from January 1991 through December 2003, under the name of Affiliated Health Services. But in January 2004, the two hospitals returned to providing independent services.
In a December 2006 expansion, the Skagit Valley Hospital Regional Cancer Care Center opened in a 20,000-square-foot comprehensive care facility dedicated to state-of-the art cancer diagnostics and treatment.
In mid-2007, a 220,000-square-foot hospital expansion project was completed, providing all private rooms for patients, a new emergency and trauma center, Family Birth Center and expanded surgical and critical-care services.
In 2010, Skagit Valley Hospital and Skagit Valley Medical Center, Skagit County’s largest physician-owned medical clinic, merged to create Skagit Regional Clinics, a comprehensive health-care system for the region.