RICHLAND — Kadlec Health System board members say they're not completely satisfied with the results of a conflict with neighboring Kennewick General Hospital, but they're ready to move on.
"This whole business has been just such a waste of energy and resources, it has distracted us from what we're all here to do, which is patient care," said Susan Kried, board vice chairwoman.
Kried, Chairman Davidson Wood and board member David Lippes told the Herald's editorial board in a recent meeting that their decision to file litigation seeking to revoke the state's approval for KGH's proposed Southridge hospital was an attempt to avoid a community war over health care.
"We filed suit to let the state decide," Lippes said. "We thought it might help reduce the potential divisiveness of the issue. In hindsight, it didn't work."
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KGH officials also have said they want to move on and focus on securing $112 million in federal financing for building Southridge.
Vic Johnson, president of the Kennewick Public Hospital District board, said the board will meet as soon as this week to talk about what KGH does next.
"It depends on what we're hearing back from our consultants and the different alternatives we can come up with," Johnson said. "Just having a board meeting without basis for discussion is in my mind a bit of a waste of time. We have to put some thought into it."
The two hospitals have been battling since last fall over dueling expansion plans. Each has sought to add beds, saying the Tri-Cities' booming population is driving their plans for growth.
But any hospital needs a state certificate of need before it can expand, and the formula applied by the state to determine need likely means both hospitals won't get all the beds they want.
Wood said in part it was the state's methodology that pitted the hospitals against each other.
"The real thing that concerns me is the system we have to play in and the civility of both groups," Wood said. "The civility has got to get better."
The competition resulted in Kadlec filing two legal actions trying to overturn the state-granted certificate of need for Southridge, and a subsequent flurry of settlement offers exchanged between the two hospital boards through May and June.
The board on Wednesday voted unanimously to drop one piece of litigation filed in Thurston County Superior Court. The other -- an appeal to the state Department of Health's Adjudicative Services Unit -- was dismissed by a health law judge June 30.
The conflict started when Kadlec applied for a certificate of need to add 114 beds to its Richland hospital. KGH applied for a 25-bed expansion at its existing campus right on Kadlec's heels.
Those 25 beds wouldn't be added until after KGH builds the $112 million Southridge hospital and moves 74 of its allotted 101 beds there, leaving 27 at the Auburn Street campus.
The additional 25 would bring the bed count to 74 at the new hospital and 52 at Auburn Street, a total of 126.
Kadlec is licensed for 188 beds, but officials want to build the remaining four floors of the hospital's 10-story River Pavilion tower and add 114 beds there, bringing the total to 302 beds.
Both hospitals are waiting for a decision from the state certificate of need program about their bed applications.
-- Michelle Dupler: 509-582-1543; firstname.lastname@example.org