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Hospital agreement allows shift of 75 beds

Sacred Heart deal applies to Deaconess

Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center will be allowed to add 75 new patient beds under a legal settlement reached Monday.

The beds will come at the expense of Holy Family Hospital, Sacred Heart’s affiliated hospital in North Spokane, which will shrink from 272 licensed beds to 197.

Providence spokeswoman Sharon Fairchild said the hospitals had two years to undertake the shift in beds. Executives have yet to determine if the changes will require extensive construction or remodeling.

Sacred Heart executives 3 ½ years ago had envisioned a $175 million-plus project that would have added 173 beds and made Sacred Heart the largest medical center in Washington state. Those long-range plans were denied by the state Health Department, however, with the exception of adding 21 hospital beds for babies. Health Department staff are charged with regulating how many patient beds a community needs and how they are allotted among hospitals.

Community Health Systems, the for-profit hospital operator that runs rivals Deaconess Hospital and Valley Hospital, had objected to Sacred Heart’s expansion plans, citing concerns that awarding the added capacity would undermine efforts to rehabilitate Deaconess.

As part of the settlement, Deaconess and Valley have the right to shift up to 75 beds between them.

Fairchild said the changes to Holy Family won’t be drastic or affect the smaller hospital’s ability to provide care.

The hospital averages about 120 patients every day, and even after losing 75 beds it could still treat about 180 people.

“This settlement gives us the flexibility to put beds where they’re needed most,” she said. “We’re very pleased with this conclusion.”

Sacred Heart needs more beds to treat the rising numbers of patients in need of intensive care, cardiac intensive care and critical care, said spokesman Joe Robb. The hospital’s emergency room is now the city’s busiest, supplanting Holy Family from the top spot.

Sacred Heart is in the midst of a major emergency room construction project, however Fairchild said plans have been revised since four years ago regarding how to best accommodate the incoming beds.

“A lot has changed,” she said. “Since then we’ve had a recession, state budget cuts and health care reform.”

Deaconess will also consider how it can best use its bed capacity, said spokeswoman Julie Holland.

Deaconess and Valley both have licensed bed capacity that is unused.


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