Updated: Trios staffers celebrate, march to new hospital (w/gallery)

Tri-City HeraldApril 11, 2014 

Scores of Trios leaders and employees -- many waving signs with messages like, “Stepping into a new era” -- marched Friday to the health system’s new Southridge hospital.

It was a symbolic act in more ways than one.

The health system can begin training in the 168,000-square-foot hospital as the contractor puts on the finishing touches after months of construction.

With the march starting at the Southridge Sports & Events Complex a few blocks away, Trios “claimed” the building, though it doesn’t open for patients until early June.

The march also gave a nod to the past.

It was meant to hearken back to the time decades ago when the community rallied to build the original Trios hospital -- then called Kennewick General Hospital -- which opened in 1952. A historic photo shows nurses and others marching through Kennewick.

“It’s really exciting for us to be able to do this,” said Chuck Barnes, executive director of support services. “This facility will just -- we think -- open a new era for health care in the community.”

After group pictures, Trios staffers filed into Trios Southridge Hospital, some seeing the interior for the first time. Lunch and tours were planned.

“We’ve been waiting for this (hospital) for a very long time,” said Brenda Atencio, assistant chief nursing officer. “It’s something to celebrate -- (something) we’ve been working on, planning and dreaming about.” Tina O’Brien, a Trios care center manager, said she’s thrilled as a staffer and a community member.

“We’re all about the community. We’ve outgrown our hospital, so I think it’s exciting to have a new facility with new equipment to offer the community,” she said.

The new hospital has 74 private patient rooms, including 14 in intensive care, plus another 27 emergency and trauma services rooms and six operating rooms. Other features range from a multifaith chapel to a restaurant.

C.D. Smith Construction, which is building the new hospital, also recently started work on an adjoining seven-floor medical office building and ambulatory care center. It’s rising quickly into the sky.

When Trios Southridge Hospital opens, it will be the main Trios hospital, with full in-patient services from the emergency department to intensive care.

But the Auburn Street hospital isn’t going away. The plan is for it to be a women and children’s hospital, with services such as a birthing center and pediatrics, officials have said.

Trios staffers plan to begin orientation and training sessions in the new Southridge hospital next week.

The march Friday drew at least a couple hundred staffers. Many of them were decked out in green, the Trios Health system’s signature color.

Members of the Kennewick Public Hospital District board, which oversees the health system, led the march, carrying a large banner reading, “We’re making history. For all of us. For life.”

The Southridge High School drum line provided a beat.

“This is a fabulous day. It’s a momentous occasion,” said Wanda Briggs, vice president of the hospital board. “Come June, this building will be seeing its first patients. The work done by our CEO, our administrators, every one of the folks who work for this hospital and by this board to make this happen, is something we’re all proud of. We are certain the community is too.”

“Everybody is excited to get into this place,” added Jim Mefford, board president. “They can hardly wait.”

-- Sara Schilling: 582-1529; sschilling@tricityherald.com; Twitter: @saraTCHerald

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