55 extra beds for Kadlec, none for KGH

OLYMPIA — Kadlec Regional Medical Center -- 55. Kennewick General Hospital -- 0.

That's the number of new beds the state told each of the hospitals Wednesday they would be awarded from applications filed a year ago.

Kadlec had asked to add 114 beds and KGH wanted 25.

"We're actually OK with that," said KGH CEO Glen Marshall.

The two hospitals battled for months over their simultaneous requests to add beds to respond to the growing Tri-City population and greater demand for health care.

The conflict started when Kadlec applied for a certificate of need to add 114 beds to its Richland hospital.

KGH responded with a 25-bed expansion at its existing campus. Those 25 beds would not have been added until after KGH builds a $112 million Southridge hospital and moves 74 of its allotted 101 beds there, leaving 27 at the Auburn Street campus.

The additional 25 beds 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.

The competition resulted in Kadlec filing two legal actions trying to overturn the state-granted certificate of need for Southridge. A subsequent flurry of settlement offers was exchanged between the two hospital boards through May and June.

One piece of litigation -- an appeal to the state Department of Health's Adjudicative Services Unit -- was dismissed by a health law judge June 30.

Kadlec's board voted in July to drop the second action in Thurston County Superior Court.

Any hospital needs a certificate of need from the state before it can expand. The process includes an application in which hospitals present data justifying their need, and a public hearing at which supporters and opponents can testify about whether more beds are needed in a community.

Kadlec officials have been critical of the formula applied by the state to determine need because it uses a medium estimate of population growth in a community. They argued a high estimate was more appropriate for the fast-growing Tri-Cities.

"Kadlec made a concerted effort to show that the Tri-Cities community has grown and will continue to grow at rates higher than average," hospital officials said in a news release.

A copy of the state analysis showing the methodology used was not available Wednesday.

Kadlec CEO Rand Wortman said the 55 beds the state awarded to Kadlec is less than the hospital hoped for, and less than the community needs, but said he was grateful for the ruling.

Wortman said the Richland hospital immediately will reopen some rooms in the older part of the hospital that were closed when the tower was built.

Those semi-private rooms will be used first as private rooms and then as semi-private as demand drives their use, he said.

Ultimately, Kadlec officials plan to build the remaining four floors of the tower, but no definite timeline exists for construction.

Marshall said KGH didn't mind not being awarded beds right now as long as Kadlec wasn't awarded its full 114-bed request. KGH argued that would have consumed all capacity for hospital growth in the Tri-Cities for a number of years.

Marshall said KGH's focus is on getting the $112 million in financing needed to build the Southridge hospital.

The hospital submitted a preliminary application to the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development in September. KGH officials have been told the application is under review.