Hospital at Southridge a healthy hope for KGH

Pardon our skepticism, but the way our two major hospitals are pursuing construction plans invites that reaction.

Kennewick General Hospital has been working on plans for a new hospital in the Southridge area for several years. Now, officials say they may be breaking ground for said hospital before the end of the year.

We're not sure what to make of that piece of information.

Earlier in the year the same officials said they were working on some financial backing and hoped to have an announcement by May.

Judging by the cool weather the last couple of mornings, May is well past, and still there is no announcement.

That's not to say we doubt their word, but we can't help but think that we're not getting the full story -- especially with Kadlec's recent announcement that they are going to build an emergency care facility in the same end of town.

Kadlec officials contend that Kennewick General Hospital's new facility is either years away or never coming. In either case, Kadlec is just trying to fill an existing need for more emergency care.

Maybe, but we can't blame KGH officials for viewing the plans as a pre-emptive strike against their proposed facility in the Southridge neighborhood.

From our viewpoint, the whole affair looks suspiciously like a turf war that could easily end up detracting from the real mission of the two hospitals.

We agree that Kennewick is growing rapidly. Yes, there is a need for a medical facility in the Southridge area.

We have two major hospitals in the Tri-Cities, and the continued success of both is best for the community. The competition -- up to a point -- is good for consumers, providing both hospitals with an added incentive to keep costs down while providing quality care.

Good health care is one of the foundations of a good community, and the combined reach of KGH, Kadlec and Lourdes Medical Center in Pasco helps make the Tri-Cities a desirous place to live. There is no reason people should have to leave the Tri-Cities for most medical services.

We appreciate the roles all three hospitals perform in keeping the community healthy. But we're weary of the adversarial relationship between Kadlec and KGH.

We are eager to see if Kennewick is able to put together the financing and get through the permitting and certification processes needed to start construction at Southridge.

If KGH breaks ground this year, we will be happy to see it. It's a worthwhile project that will help keep the community healthy.

But it will be only a partial victory for consumers if it doesn't lead to a easing of tensions between the community's two largest health care providers.