by MARK ST.J. COUHIG
The board of Olympic Medical Center believes the time has come to finish some work at the Medical Services Building, 844 N. Fifth Ave., in Sequim.
The board is seeking bids to outfit approximately 4,500 square feet of empty space for use by medical professionals and office staff.
Rhonda Curry, assistant administrator for strategic development for OMC, said the “plan has always been to complete that as needed.”
Curry said when the building was first constructed the decision was made to save the money until the space could be properly utilized. “It was a matter of stewardship,” she said.
The work may bring up to $985,000 in new construction to Sequim to provide permanent space for neurologists, cardiologists and office staff.
Scott Bower, plant operations and construction manager for OMC, said the board is asking for bids to finish 2,633 square feet of space to expand the Olympic Medical Physicians Specialty Clinic. The work would include adding two procedures rooms and six additional exam rooms.
The space also may serve as home for two neurologists now being recruited to Sequim.
The board also has asked for bids for building a new cardiology clinic that would be established in 1,224 square feet of vacant space on the building’s second floor. The plans for the clinic include five exam rooms and a doctor’s office. It would adjoin the existing cardiology department.
Additional office space or a “one-doctor” clinic will fill another 935 square feet.
There are several options in the request for bids approved by the board at its Oct. 5 meeting, with a cap of $985,000 for the complete project.
Planning under way
OMC CEO Eric Lewis discussed possibilities for the space with Sequim citizens during a Thursday, Oct. 6, forum on OMC’s strategic plan, saying it will provide some of the room needed as the hospital seeks to build its business.
There are tough times ahead, Lewis said, and increasing revenues is vital to preserving the fiscal health of OMC.
Lewis and Curry said newly proposed cuts to the state budget could reduce funding to OMC by as much as $5 million in 2012 alone.
OMC also anticipates that uncompensated care could rise to $9 million in 2012.
Other sources of funding, including Medicare, also are likely to decline.
Lewis also discussed OMC’s new tertiary affiliation with Swedish Medical Center, which the board likely will approve at its Oct. 19 meeting.
That agreement will result in more services in Sequim, Lewis said, including two neurologists. While working in Sequim within the new Fifth Avenue facility, the neurologists will remain affiliated with Swedish, which Lewis indicated has the financial heft to recruit and hold such highly paid specialists.
In response to a question from the audience, Lewis said it’s possible the agreement with Swedish will bring to Sequim other specialists on a regular basis. That might include an endocrinologist, which the market currently can’t support on a full-time basis, he said.
An urgent care center also is possible to supplement on weekends and at night the services now provided by Primary Care Sequim, a privately owned business. Lewis emphasized that such a facility only would provide certain procedures. Many life-threatening issues, including heart attacks and strokes, still would require transport to the emergency department at Olympic Memorial Hospital in Port Angeles.