Providence’s new Colby hospital tower to open early

  • By Sharon Salyer Herald Writer
  • Sunday, January 2, 2011 12:01am
  • Local News

The new 12-story medical tower at Providence Regional Medical Center Everett is now expected to open two months ahead of schedule, on June 14.

And the final cost of the project, $460 million, is about $40 million less than originally estimated, said Dave Brooks, the hospital’s chief executive

.

The U-shaped building with the glass exterior tops out at 197 feet, one of the tallest on Everett’s skyline.

“It will be more contemporary and prettier, certainly,” Brooks said.

“At the same time it’s going to be better care,” he said, through such steps as more advanced infection control, more privacy and more single rooms.

The public will get its first chances to tour the building during open houses scheduled for June 11 and 12.

“Everybody’s asking, ‘When is it opening?’ ” Brooks said. “It’s such a massive project, and it’s taken so long to design and build. That’s created an excitement, but also at times a frustration. We want to bring this to the community now.”

Brooks joined the hospital in 2004 and has overseen much of its planning.

Construction on the 700,000-square-foot medical tower began in October 2008. The new building is located next to the current hospital at 1321 Colby Ave.

It will include an estimated $25 million in high-tech diagnostic and imaging equipment, such as high-definition CT scanners, MRI machines, and smaller, lighter, X-ray machines.

Overall, the new building is designed to be more “family friendly,” so loved ones can participate more in recovery and care-giving, Brooks said.

The tower will open with 240 in-patient rooms, with space to expand to a maximum of 368.

Each room with have pull-out couches for family members. Floors designated for in-patient treatment will have family lounges with Internet access and kitchens.

Patient rooms are designed so that nurses and other medical staff will have a window to look in on patients without disturbing them, Brooks said.

The hospital’s emergency room, already one of the state’s busiest, will be able to treat up to 150,000 patients a year in its new quarters in the medical tower’s ground floor.

The size of the new emergency department will likely come as a surprise to anyone who has been treated at the hospital’s current cramped quarters. Its 55,870 square feet is equivalent in size to three National Hockey League ice rinks.

It will have 79 treatment areas, an increase from the current 52 treatment areas at the emergency rooms at its Colby and Pacific campuses. The new space should significantly cut the wait time for nontrauma patients from its current three hours.

Patients will get a quick initial check of their condition and then be sent to a treatment room, said Cheri Russum, hospital spokeswoman.

After the new emergency department opens, the two current emergency rooms will close. The Colby campus’ emergency department is scheduled to close the day the new tower opens. The other emergency room at 916 Pacific Ave. will close a few days later, on June 16.

It’s a change hospital officials would like the public to start getting ready for now. “We don’t want people to have an extra stop on the way to the emergency department,” Brooks said.

One part of the building that has received little attention so far is its 14,000-square-foot rooftop garden, located on the fourth floor. Although there will be no public access to the garden, it will allow patients and their families to have a view of trees, grass and flowers.

“It was a choice we had to make rather than just a rooftop,” Brooks said. “Besides being earth-friendly … it looks wonderful. I’m glad we did it.”

Some public areas of the current Colby Avenue hospital will continue to be used, connected to the new building through temporary walkways.

These include the cafeteria, gift shop and chapel. They will move to new quarters about six to eight months after the medical tower opens, Brooks said.

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

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