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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Providence announces expansion into Valley

Plans include center for outpatient surgery

Providence Health Care has staked a claim in Spokane Valley with plans to open a $58 million medical campus.

The region’s largest health care company, with 275 doctors on the payroll and more than 7,000 employees across Eastern Washington, decided the time is right to build on 11 acres along Interstate 90 east of Sullivan Road.

The move brings Providence to the doorstep of its main competition and ensures that Spokane Valley will witness the sort of steady and sometimes aggressive patient recruitment that has been unfolding between Providence and Rockwood Health System during the past several years.

The new Providence Medical Park project, scheduled to open in 2014, is not a hospital.

Executives call it a “hybrid facility” that will include a large outpatient surgery center and physician offices ranging from family practitioners and pediatricians to heart and cancer doctors.

It will offer an imaging center and a pharmacy, said Providence Chief Executive Mike Wilson.

“We’ll have Providence physicians within 10 minutes” of most everyone living in Spokane County, he said.

Providence now captures the business of about half of Valley residents needing medical attention.

Wilson hopes to bolster that share with the new services, which will include an urgent care center to see people with nonemergency injuries and illnesses. The center may serve as a sort of triage center to help patients receive appropriate care. Patients often seek nonemergency treatment at hospital emergency rooms, which are the most expensive place for medical care.

The past several years have been marked by the rapid consolidation of medical services in Spokane as the three largest health systems – Providence, Group Health and Rockwood Health System – buy up clinics and thus acquire patient loyalty for their hospitals and specialty care. Providence runs Sacred Heart Medical Center and Holy Family Hospital.

Rockwood operates Deaconess Hospital and Valley Hospital.

Though not a hospital, the new Providence Medical Park sits about two miles from Rockwood’s Valley Hospital, the centerpiece of a growing medical cluster along East Mission Avenue.

Valley Hospital has been expanding services, hiring more employees and admitting more patients during the past couple of years. The activity has led to a financial turnabout for a hospital that had struggled.

Executives say that changing reimbursements from Medicare and Medicaid, along with pending health reforms, caused the mergers and sharpened competition.

Providence, for example, expects its new medical park to serve the patients of at least 65 doctors, including 15 of its own doctors who went to work for Providence within the past couple of years, along with about 50 doctors who are now part of business partner Group Health.

Dr. Kevin Sweeny, medical director of Providence Physician Services, said the new campus would lease space to outside physicians interested in opening an office or performing outpatient surgeries.

The new medical park will cost an estimated $44 million to build. About $14 million more will be spent on equipment, Sweeny said.