Friday, July 16, 2010

What do you think about the new Evergreen ER Clinic planned for Bella Bottega?

REVISED:   Do you think 16 new acute ER exam rooms and a four-story building are an appropriate land use in Bella Bottega shopping center -- 4 miles from Evergreen Hospital?  In 2007, Evergreen Hospital was awarded a "Certificate of Need" to build 28 new acute care ER rooms and a 10 "rapid assessment" rooms for their hospital.  Why do we need more?   (A "Certificate of Need" is not required for ER Clinics.)   Swedish Medical Center is building an 18-room ER facility on Union Hill.  When you add them all up, Redmond will have 62 ER rooms, when only 28 are certifiably needed. 

Sherry Grindeland, Evergreen Healthcare Media Relations emailed:   "As a Public Hospital District, our mission is to provide outstanding medical care and service to the community."   An Evergreen marketing manager told me free-standing ER clinics are a marketing strategy used throughout the country to attract new patients.  ER clinics provide shorter waiting times, conveniences and emergency care a step-above urgent care.  However, response times may be delayed at ER clinics.  For example, compromised heart patients may drive directly to the ER Clinic only to find they must be rushed to the hospital for critical care.   

An Overlake Hospital manager said Evergreen's original plan was to consolidate three Redmond primary care facilities into a 2-story primary care/urgent care facility in Bella Bottega,  But, when Swedish announced plans for an ER clinic for Union Hill, Evergreen shifted gears and  hurried to push through the comprehensive 4-story ER facility.

Doesn't the "Certificate of Need" awarded to Evergreen Hospital for 28 new 'ER rooms' three years ago (2007) validate we are already getting "outstanding medical care and service"?  Is the Evergreen Bella Bottega facility even necessary?    Do users and taxpayers need more ER beds and millions of dollars of imaging and laboratory equipment with additional staffing when our needs are met?   No doubt patients will benefit from shorter waiting times, other conveniences and certified ER care.  But, according to Overlake Medical Clinic, the cost for sewing 10 stitches in a stand-alone ER is about 3 times the cost at their Urgent Care facility in SW Redmond. 

What are the best and highest uses of our medical resources....and our tax dollars?   The City needs a new downtown park, community pool and a fire station.  LWSD needs two new elementary schools, a modernized Juanita High School, and expanded Redmond and Eastside Highs.   Hospitals must pay for indigents.  How do you rank your priorities?   Does our Public Health District really need 62 ER rooms servicing Redmond?

Last year property taxes for the City of Redmond increased 1%. But not much media attention was given to the 1.7% increase levied by our Evergreen Hospital District Board of Commissioners in 2010. The 2010 Property Tax increased $280,056 to $14,914,002 - that's almost the amount needed to fund Evergreen's new $15M Redmond ER Medical Clinic building in Bella Bottega. Any thoughts on this?

Maria Royer, the leasing agent for the project said "Gary Merlino (landlord) was fortunate to have great partners in Evergreen Healthcare and the City of Redmond who helped us move quickly to make this deal possible." Interestingly, local Media was informed of the project's "approval" 4-days before the public comment period was complete. 

Perhaps, next year the Board of Commissioners will find the where-with-all to restrain themselves?

Tom Martin, Evergreen Healthcare strategic planing director announced during the groundbreaking ceremony that the Greater Redmond Chamber of Commerce was instrumental in moving the project forward.  So true.  The Chamber is stacked with Evergreen Hospital and City of Redmond officials, as follows:    Evergreen's Tom Martin (Planning Director), Augie Kempf (Hospital commissioner, Chamber Membership Chair and Redmond businessman/property owner), Stephen Maffet (Evergreen Advisor & Chamber President) Council President Richard Cole (Chamber Treasurer), Council Vice President Pat Vache' (Trustee), and Rob Odle (Redmond Director of Planning & Development & Chamber Trustee). Mayor Marchione, who did not attend the groundbreaking ceremony, said in a 2009 press release:
"We want to see steady, smart development in and around our downtown core. I am pleased that Evergreen Healthcare is continuing to make investments in our community to provide necessary services for our community."
How necessary?  How smart? 

A "Neighborhood Meeting" was never held by the city to allow citizens to  input on the project.   Local businesses had a meeting with the developer and Evergreen officials at the Coho Restaurant to review parking and ingress and egress impacts.  Citizens weren't invited. 
EVERGREEN PUBLIC HOSPITAL LEVYS: 2010 Regular Property Tax Levy increased 1.7% over the 2009 Regular Property Tax Levy. The 2010 Property Tax increased $280,056-- from $14,633,946 in 2009 to $14,914,002 in 2010.

The 2010 Excess Property Tax Levy approved by voters on May 18, 2004 is $9,239,943.

THE TOTAL LEVY in 2010 is $24,153945.

2010 levy lift.  Resolution No. 827-09, 11/13/2009
Redmond Type II permit Project files (3) for the Evergreen Medical Clinic
USA Today, "More emergency rooms open away from hospitals", Julie Appleby
US News and World Report, "Need the Emergency Room?  Skip the Wait". M. Andrews, 10/17/2008
Evergreen website.
Chamber of Commerce Newsletter, June, 2010
City officials:  Pat Vache', Gary Lee and Steve Fischer
Evergreen staff:  Sherry Grindeland, Laureen Burton, Trisha West, and Tom Martin
Evergreen Medical Plaza groundbreaking.

By Bob Yoder
Photo by Yoder


Anonymous said...

Bob - where will you go when you need to go to an ER?

Bob Yoder said...

I've never needed an ER visit. If I do need one, the ambulance would probably take me to the closest and best facility that could treat my condition.

Emergency Room visits are very expensive and not covered well by my insurance company. I'd rather wait for urgent care than pay ~3X more for ER care.

Anonymous said...

My daughter recently had to go to Evergreen ER after a fender bender. She had a possible whiplash. Other than entering her info into the computer, taking her blood pressure, and sitting her in a room for 2 hours waiting to see a doctor nothing else was done. No x rays, MRI, IV nothing (that's a good thing) but still the bill was $1200 for the hospital and over $200 for the doctor. Guess Evergreen has to pay for that new facility.

carriemomof5 said...

Our insurance will pay for, and encourages you to use, a physician home visit to treat you after hours if you don't need an ER. Saves them money, less for a Dr to visit your house than for you to go to the hospital. I've never needed this service, but I think it is great.

As far as which ER, I never thought the trip from Redmond to Evergreen was much of an inconvenience. I am sort of excited about the Swedish facility, as I am a huge fan of Swedish Hospital. I will probably make that my ER.

Bob Yoder said...

Hi Carrie - Thanks for writing. I love your blog, too and the great picture of your family!

I think your're lucky to have such wonderful insurance to be covered for a home visit after hours, especially with your family of 5 kids. It's also healthier to stay out of a hospital...too many bad germs! I'll look for you on your walks with the dog!

Anonymous said...

Two summers ago, my son fell off his bike and broke his arm. It was late and our pediatrician was closed so we took him to the ER at Evergreen. The ER had a lot of exam rooms, almost all empty, and a small staff. I asked three different people, including the lady who had us sign paperwork agreeing to pay for the treatment, how much it would cost. They all said they didn't know.

When we got the bill, we were surprised.
To sit in the ER exam room: $600.
To be provided with an ER doctor: $900.
Separate bill from ER doctor: $400
X-rays, reading X-rays, cast, etc; $800.
(No stitches, no medications)
Total: $2,700.
We have insurance, but we have a high deductible so we paid $1,700 of the total bill.

What we really need is an urgent care facility where we can go after hours that doesn't cost an arm & a leg and who post prices on the wall - like my car mechanic - ahead of time for those of us who actually pay our own medical bills.

Paganne said...

My biggest issue with the new Evergreen "clinic"? Where will people park? A four story building will have a lot of staff. parking during the day time is already at a premium; during lunch times and then into the early afternoon and evenings. Where will people park when they need to take their child to Kung Fu lessons? or eat at Sushi Land? Or see a movie?

I've lived here 21 years; i have four children. We have used the emergency room ONCE for a heart issue my husband had.

This is another example of Redmond attempting to keep up with the Joneses. We didn't and don't need an emergency room nor a four story clinic.

And (view the separate story) look at the way the building will stand out and block viewpoints and the overall scenery of the Bella Bottega area.

Anonymous said...

This area has grown and is growing so rapidly I thank the person that took the time to make it a reality. The life they may save could be a member of your family.

We must start to think of medical care in different ways, not just Medical clinic and Hospital. Satellite medical centers are a tremendous additions to any community.