Kadlec expanding emergency services into Kennewick

Kadlec Regional Medical Center is planning another expansion -- this time into Kennewick, where the Richland hospital will build a stand-alone emergency department to help accommodate a growing community need for emergency medicine.

Kadlec officials announced plans for the new building Monday, and hope to have it up and running in about 18 months.

The projected cost is $16 million.

The new building would house a full emergency department with a staff of 30 to 40 doctors, nurses and support personnel, and round-the-clock hours where patients could be taken for emergency care.

Kadlec Health System CEO Rand Wortman said it will be built somewhere in the south part of Kennewick, but declined to give a specific location.

He also noted the facility would not be an urgent care or walk-in clinic.

"It is truly an emergency department," he said.

The department will be equipped to handle any emergency that could be handled at the hospital's in-house emergency department in Richland, but wouldn't have operating rooms or beds where patients could be admitted.

Anyone needing emergency surgery or admission to the hospital would be transported to Richland at no cost to the patient, Wortman said.

The construction of a stand-alone emergency department is being prompted by a rising demand for emergency medical care.

Kadlec gets about 65,000 visits per year in its Richland emergency department, which was designed to handle 50,000 visits.

Wortman said the hospital islooking at ways to try to make emergency room trips more efficient to handle the overload until the new building is open.

"If the average patient is here90 minutes and we can get that down to 60 minutes, that opens up additional capacity," he said.

The hospital also is looking at using space in its Clinical Decision Unit -- a flexible area with beds used for purposes such as patient observation, surgery preparation, and pre- and post-operative care -- as emergency department overflow.

"The problem is we're going to need more CDU space," Wortman said.

Kadlec is modeling its plans on stand-alone emergency departments operated by Swedish Medical Center in Seattle.

The south Kennewick location was chosen to serve patients coming from Northeast Oregon as well as the Tri-Cities, Kadlec officials said.

Kennewick General Hospital wants to build a new hospital, including an emergency room, in the Southridge area of south Kennewick but has yet to announce financing for the project.

KGH CEO Glen Marshall could not be reached on his cellphone Monday about the project.

-- Michelle Dupler: 582-1543; mdupler@tricityherald.com