PORT TOWNSEND — Jefferson Healthcare celebrated the groundbreaking of its $84 million expansion and modernization project that is expected to increase the number of providers and the services the hospital offers.
Commissioner Jill Buhler Rienstra reminded the crowd of about 40 people on Thursday afternoon that this was not the first time they had gathered for such an event.
“Eight years ago we stood with shovels in hand to break ground on an emergency and special services building with enough vacant shell space for a five-year growth period that we filled in one-and-a-half years,” Rienstra said, and then motioned to a piece of construction equipment parked behind her.
“Today, we have traded in shovels for an excavator.”
The project will start in October with demolition of the 1965 building. At the end of December, 70 weeks of construction will begin with an estimated ribbon-cutting sometime in the second quarter of 2025.
Funding for the project included a $2 million federal appropriations request for expanding rural senior health care and a $4 million appropriation from the state for reproductive and gynecological health services.
The speed at which the ESS building had filled up was eye-opening, and it informed planning of the current expansion project, Jefferson Healthcare CEO Mike Glenn said.
“We needed to add space for the growth of existing services and for new services,” Glenn said.
Taking into account local demographics was key, he said.
“We have a county population of 30,000 with about a third of residents 65 and older,” Glenn said. ‘That helps us decide what services to provide in a safe and high-quality way.”
Among the new services Jefferson Healthcare will offer are ear, nose and throat care, geriatrics, neurology, pulmonology and radiation oncology that are anticipated to bring in 6,000 to 8,000 patient visits in the first year. The additional space will enable it to expand its current services in dermatology, oncology and orthopedics.
Providing local care in speciality areas like radiation therapy was important, Glenn said, because patients could choose to take treatment close to home instead of traveling to Silverdale or Seattle.
Among those attending the event were Jefferson Healthcare board of commissioners and members of the Jefferson Healthcare Foundation, representatives from the City of Port Townsend and Jefferson County, state Reps. Mike Chapman and Steve Tharinger and representatives from the offices of state Sen. Kevin Van De Wege and U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer.
Reporter Paula Hunt can be reached at Paula.Hunt@soundpublishing.com