By Rob Ollikainen
Peninsula Daily News
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The seven commissioners will be asked to consider a long-term campus development plan that includes an $8 million medical office building just south of the existing hospital at 939 Caroline St. in Port Angeles and an $8 million surgery and endoscopy center for the medical campus in Sequim.
The 20,000- to 25,000-square-foot office building in Port Angeles would be built on OMC property on the south side of Caroline Street.
The 16,000- to 18,000-square-foot Sequim surgery and endoscopy center would go east of the existing physical therapy building and south of the cancer center at 844 N. Fifth Ave.
No taxpayer funding is being considered for either long-range project, Chief Executive Officer Eric Lewis confirmed.
“We’re looking at the financial viability of this very closely, and we’ll have a plan — we’ll have something for the board to look at — in the coming weeks and months,” Lewis told six commissioners at their Wednesday board meeting. Commissioner Jim Cammack was absent.
Lewis said the need for more physician clinic space in Port Angeles “has been there” throughout his 15-year tenure at OMC.
“We really need to have adequate physician space here at the hospital if we’re going to take care of our community and our patients the way we want to,” he added.
The office building would replace smaller clinics near the hospital that are in “various stages of disrepair.”
“This would actually bring a lot of efficiencies to OMC,” he said.
OMC recently opened a sleep center and expanded a walk-in clinic in Sequim, but the need for surgery offices and an endoscopy center has existed for years.
“A lot of our patients need this,” Lewis said.
Endoscopy is a procedure that uses an endoscope to examine the inside of body organs.
“These projects are not new, but they are big problems that I think we need to really look at, and look at the financial feasibility of addressing,” Lewis said.
OMC would hire an architect to design the buildings and pin down precise cost estimates.
“We have to consider financing options,” Lewis said, adding that OMC may consider taking on debt to pay for the buildings.
“And certainly, the 2014-2016 strategic plan really will set our direction on these things.
“There will be a lot of work in the next two or three months on these projects and working closely with the board and getting community input on them.”
Although the long-range campus development plan includes an expanded 20-bed emergency room, the $10 million emergency room expansion project is being shelved for a few more years.
“We simply don’t have the ability to finance it, given current reimbursement levels,” Lewis said.
“And we’re going to look for other ways to help relieve the pressure.”
One of the ways of relieving that pressure is a $323,000 remodel of its existing emergency room, now in progress, that will expand the capacity from 11 beds to 14 beds once completed in October.
Other efforts to alleviate emergency room pressure include primary care physician recruitment and expanded hours for the walk-in clinic in Sequim.
The walk-in clinic at 840 N. Fifth Ave, Suite 1400, is currently open Mondays through Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
The Sequim clinic will be open seven days a week beginning in September.
“We’re going to try to promote and advertise that more, and try to get appropriate people in Sequim to go to the walk-in clinic rather than drive into Port Angeles and our emergency room,” Lewis said.
Infrastructure improvements are another key element of the long-range campus plan.
“Quite frankly, there’s a long list of things that we’re going to do,” Lewis said.
“We’ve really made a lot of progress, and I think we can be proud of the way we maintain this hospital, but it’s kind of a never-ending process.”
Commissioner Jim Leskinovitch thanked Lewis and the plant operations staff for maintaining the infrastructure.
“I think in the past, this organization really hasn’t looked at the facilities and the upkeep and modernization,” Leskinovitch told Lewis.
“You have really tackled those with your staff. . . . It’s great to see.”
OMC recently replaced its hospital elevators, modernized inpatient rooms and upgraded its primary care clinic on Eighth and Cherry streets in Port Angeles.
Next comes an upgrade of the hospital’s main lobby, replacement of the 41-year-old boilers and a renovation of the clinic at Eighth and Vine streets in Port Angeles.
“One of the things we’re really focused on is one OMC standard for how facilities look and feel,” Lewis said.
“We’re not there yet, but we’ve certainly made a lot of progress. And it is key that we do the infrastructure; otherwise, you can’t operate, ultimately.”
Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5072, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.