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
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