Kadlec Regional Medical Center announced Wednesday that it will build a $17 million standalone emergency department at the corner of Highway 395 and 19th Avenue in Kennewick.
The Richland hospital announced plans for a standalone emergency department in the summer of 2011, but had not selected a site at that time.
The 25,000-square-foot building will be on four acres next to the new DaVita Center. Hospital officials expect it will open in summer 2013.
"Consumers are demanding a more responsive service, and we believe the free-standing emergency service will do just that and the lessons learned there will improve the care at our other facilities," said Kirk Harper, Kadlec's vice president of nursing services.
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.
Hospital officials have emphasized that the facility will not be an urgent care or walk-in clinic.
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.
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, a news release said.
Kadlec is modeling its plans on stand-alone emergency departments operated by Swedish Medical Center in Seattle.
The 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, about 1.5 miles south in the Southridge area of Kennewick but has yet to announce financing for the project.
KGH CEO Glen Marshall told the Herald on Wednesday that the public hospital district is continuing to work through the process of securing financing, but has not yet made a decision.
"We hope it will be soon," Marshall said.
-- Michelle Dupler: 582-1543; email@example.com