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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Pullman hospital bond in jeopardy due to low turnout

A proposed addition to Pullman Regional Hospital is depicted in this rendering as the middle building. A $29 million bond to pay for the expansion was on life support Tuesday night. (COURTESY OF PULLMAN REGIONAL HOS / COURTESY OF PULLMAN REGIONAL HOS)

A $29 million bond for Pullman Regional Hospital to expand its facilities and services was on life support Tuesday night.

While 59% of voters had approved the bond, with 643 voters in favor and 434 against, on Tuesday night, the measure needs 2,668 more ballots cast to reach a threshold of 3,745 total certified votes to even qualify.

Of those votes, 60% of those ballots cast must be in favor of the proposal for it to pass.

Whitman County estimates that there are more than 4,000 ballots left to count countywide, and hospital officials were holding out hope for the next vote count to meet the required threshold. Megan Guido, chief marketing and community relations officer at the hospital said that the preliminary results were encouraging, with the support of voters.

“We knew our biggest hurdle was getting the threshold met and getting people out to vote,” Guido said.

The next vote tally will be released at 4 p.m. on Wednesday.

Pullman Regional Hospital is partnering with the WSU College of Medicine and plans to apply for a program by 2022. Passing the measure would be an important step to applying for a family medicine residency.

The bond would have funded separate clinic space, as well as access to an electronic medical record system. Hospital district commissioners hope to expand services and offer specialty care at Pullman Regional with the bond funding as well.

Pullman Regional Hospital is run by a public hospital district and funded in part by local taxpayers in the Pullman city limits. The vote means that residents will pay more property taxes starting in 2020 to help fund the hospital’s expansion. For a $250,000 house, a resident would pay $250 a year in taxes, an increase of $167 in hospital bond taxes Pullman residents currently pay.

The outcome of the bond vote is not a dealbreaker for the partnership between WSU and Pullman Regional, College of Medicine officials said, and the university expects to continue to explore other ways of accomplishing the partnership.

Arielle Dreher's reporting for The Spokesman-Review is primarily funded by the Smith-Barbieri Progressive Fund, with additional support from Report for America and members of the Spokane community. These stories can be republished by other organizations for free under a Creative Commons license. For more information on this, please contact our newspaper’s managing editor.