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Kadlec Regional Medical Center has received state approval to add 67 more patient beds, bringing the Richland hospital’s capacity to 337 beds.
Kadlec plans to add the additional beds in existing hospital space over the next few years, Kadlec said in an announcement Thursday.
The cost of the project is estimated at $1.4 million, almost all of it to be used to buy equipment, Kadlec told the Washington state Department of Health in its October application. It would be financed through cash on hand.
The increase is needed, in part, to serve a growing population of senior citizens, who need more hospital health care than younger residents.
Hospitals in Washington state need approval from the state Department of Health to add more inpatient beds, as part of a process to make sure that the expansion is needed for quality patient care within a particular community.
“The Tri-Cities continues to experience steady population growth, and achieving this approval from the state is significant,” said Kirk Harper, Kadlec chief operating officer.
“It allows us to grow along with our community and be able to continue to meet their health needs well into the future,” he said.
Kadlec told the state that it planned to phase in bed capacity over three years, with 10 beds added before the end of this year. That would be followed with 20 beds in 2020 and 37 beds in 2021.
Kadlec: Fast population growth
Demand for in-patient hospital care at Providence-owned Kadlec, the Tri-Cities only not-for-profit hospital, has been increasing steadily, according to the hospital.
It expects continued demand as the Benton and Franklin counties combined population is expected to grow nearly 2 percent per year for the next seven years.
The hospital also serves as a regional care center with a quarter of its inpatient care provided to patients who live outside the two counties.
The population growth is being driven primarily by increasing numbers of people 65 or older, which grew 5 percent a year from 2010 to 2015.
The population of seniors is forecast to grow at a rate of 3.7 percent a year from 2020 to 2025, Kadlec said.
“The timing of the state’s approval is excellent as we will soon be heading into the flu season, which historically is a very busy time for Kadlec,” Harper said.
Trios objected to Kadlec beds
The Tri-Cities has two other hospital systems, Trios Health in Kennewick with 111 beds and Lourdes Health in Pasco.
Lourdes is a critical access hospital, limiting it to 25 inpatient hospital beds. Both are owned by for-profit LifePoint Health.
In January, Trios told the Department of Health that Kadlec was requesting too many beds and granting the request would be “detrimental to Trios Health returning to is pre-bankruptcy state and to preserving choice and access” in Benton and Franklin counties.
Trios and RCCH Healthcare, which was in talks to buy Trios at the time, told the state it could meet the needs of the Tri-Cities area for hospital beds in the short term, and suggested that Kadlec reapply for additional beds in 18 to 24 months.
Kadlec told the state that the request would give Trios up to two years to build market share.
But Kadlec’s needs were immediate, the Richland hospital argued.
The state decided to allow Kadlec to add the beds and that Trios will have the opportunity to rebuild its operations following the bankruptcy as Kadlec phases in the beds through 2021.
Trios Health filed for bankruptcy in 2017 and then was purchased in 2018 by RCCH Healthcare, which was then purchased by LifePoint Health.