Valley Medical and MultiCare plan for medical facilities in Covington

Some healthy competition among medical facilities is taking shape in Covington.
At the Nov. 24 City Council meeting, representatives from both Valley Medical Center and MultiCare spoke to the members and staff about future plans.
As reported in the Nov. 27 edition of The Reporter, MultiCare is planning to build an emergency medical department connected to its Urgent Care facility in Covington. The nonprofit health organization is also hoping to build either a 34- or 58-bed hospital on the site.
Hugh Kodama, administrator for Covington MultiCare, stated, “We have been studying this for years and we thought now is the time.”
Kodama said the plan is to have the emergency department completed in two years. The hospital would take longer and is dependent upon approval of a certificate of need, which will be filed with the state Department.
The department assesses the need in a specific region before allowing construction of a hospital.
Valley is also proposing to build a 24-hour emergency department in the Town Center area on 10 acres behind Safeway next to Covington Elementary.
Mike Glenn, senior vice president of business development for Valley said, “We are proposing a stand alone emergency department and we prefer the Town Center site. Covington is an important part of our district.”
Covington is part of the taxing district for Valley Medical, which is Public Hospital District No. 1.
Glenn said the plan is to keep up with the growth in the community. He noted “15,000 residents of Covington come to Valley at Renton. We believe we should be meeting their needs more timely and efficiently.”
Both Kodama and Glenn said their plans were not part of a competition with each other, but in response to community need.
Kodama said MultiCare began construction of the Covington clinic in 1992, which is an 100,000-square-foot facility.
He said the clinic is nearly “maxed out” at this point and “our plan is always to take a look at the future. We think the area is ready. There are young families in the area who want a family lifestyle and they want to get the care they need here.”
Kodama said the plan for the emergency department includes eventual expansion for the hospital.
“When you build a hospital it needs to be next to the services needed, like imaging. We have to have more efficiency in the care provided today. We are trying to be innovative and more efficient in the care in a less costly setting.”
Kodama said the hospital planned by MultiCare is not the traditional type, “but something that takes advantage of the delivery system we have.”
Glenn said he did not see the need for a hospital in the area. He said Valley is licensed for 303 patients in beds per day and Valley averages 170 patients per day.
“It is not apparent to me there is a shortage of beds in south King County,” Glenn said. “That is why we are starting a stand alone emergency department.”
Glenn said Valley plans is to open the emergency department facility in 2011, which he acknowledged was a very aggressive plan.
Valley is in negotiations with the Ashton Corporation, owner of the property in the Town Center area.
According to Glenn, Valley has other options if the Ashton site does not work out for them.
City Manager Derek Matheson said the plans of the two medical providers is good news for the city.
“These are two outstanding organizations,” Matheson said. “I’m excited to see two 24-hour emergency departments and a hospital in our city.”
At the Tuesday City Council meeting both Planning Manager Richard Hart and Community Development Director David Nemens said the proposed zoning and development regulations for the Town Center area will allow an emergency department that Valley is planning.
Along with the plans for medical facilities in Covington, Swedish Medical Center has plans to build a 50,000-square-foot medical clinic in Maple Valley near Four Corners on 264th Street East across from Motorplex.

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