The frustration of not finding a place to park led to the arrest of a Richland man Tuesday morning after he brandished a gun during a parking stall dispute at Kadlec Regional Medical Center.
It also highlighted an issue discussed by hospital officials and the Richland City Council during a Tuesday night workshop -- inadequate parking.
Kadlec Regional Medical Center has about 125 parking spaces available to patients -- a figure that trails daily in-patient numbers that average about 170 and have more than doubled since 2000. Employees have had to park in lots on Gilmore Street and at a nearby church to free spaces for patients.
In response, Kadlec is planning to build a four-story, $12 million parking garage at the corner of Goethals Drive and Swift Boulevard to provide 600 parking spaces to the Kadlec campus. It's yet to be determined if the garage will be used strictly by patients or staff as well.
Construction is expected to begin next summer, Kadlec President and CEO Rand Wortman told the council.
Parking can be contentious at the medical center, which has offered free patient valet service since 2001 and a shuttle service that ferries employees to and from the auxiliary parking lots.
Parking frustrations boiled over at about 11:20 a.m. Tuesday when a 55-year-old man allegedly brandished a gun during a parking stall dispute.
Jefferey Hack was arrested less than hour later by Richland police during a high-risk traffic stop, Sgt. Brian Ruegsegger said.
"It turned out there was a parking dispute between him and this person," Ruegsegger said, noting that officers observed a handgun in Hack's car during the traffic stop.
Hack was booked into the Benton County jail for unlawful display of a firearm. Ruegsegger said the gun was not pointed at anyone during the parking lot incident.
Wortman's announcement to the city council that Kadlec plans to build a parking garage drew some cheers and applause.
The garage should sit in front of the Corrado Medical Building. An artist's rendering presented to the council shows a two-story, glass-encased building fronting the parking garage that Wortman said could be home to retail shops. The rendering was preliminary and subject to change, said Jim Hall, Kadlec's director of government and community relations.
Hall said Kadlec's June affiliation with the not-for-profit health system Providence Health & Services, which is affiliated with dozens of hospitals across five states, "accelerated" Kadlec's ability to develop its Richland campus.
"That helps projects like this move forward more quickly than if we stayed as we were," Hall said.
Besides the parking lot, Kadlec also plans to add four additional stories to its River Pavilion. The $72 million, 18-month project is expected to begin in March. The River Pavilion opened in 2008. Its existing six floors hold operating rooms, a short-stay unit, two acute-care patient floors and pediatrics, among other services. The additional four floors should hold acute-care beds with space dedicated to intensive care, Hall said.
The hospital has experienced big growth since 2000, when it employed about 700 people and saw about 70 in-patients each day.
Kadlec is the largest employer in Richland's Central Business District, putting more than 2,700 people to work.
Annual emergency room visits have increased from about 23,000 in 2000 to an expected 84,000 this year, Hall said. Payroll has grown from about $30 million to almost $150 million in the past 15 years.
-- Drew Foster: 509-582-1513; firstname.lastname@example.org