Legacy Salmon Creek remodel under way

Hospital grows to handle influx of Kaiser patients

By Aaron Corvin, Columbian port & economy reporter

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Preparing for an influx of patients in October, Legacy Salmon Creek Medical Center has kicked off a $6 million project to remodel and equip a portion of the hospital, including the addition of four labor and delivery rooms, and one new surgical suite.

There's an economic payoff, too: The face-lift, an outgrowth of a larger contract the hospital secured, is generating an estimated 100 to 150 temporary construction jobs. And Legacy Salmon Creek expects to hire 175 people, bringing its full-time staff from 850 to 1,025.

"We have a plan to ramp up in terms of the hiring and to have major employee orientations in August to get people ready to go," Brian Willoughby, a spokesman for the hospital, said this week. "It's a huge growth for us."

The reconstruction project is tied to a seven-year contract announced by Legacy and Kaiser Permanente Northwest in January. Under that deal, Kaiser is switching from using PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center as its health-plan hospital to Legacy Salmon Creek.

The Kaiser switchover occurs on Oct. 1. That means about 100,000 Clark County residents who receive health insurance through Kaiser could find themselves using Legacy Salmon Creek for some hospital services.

For example, Kaiser-insured residents who used to go to PeaceHealth Southwest for family birth services will instead head to Legacy's hospital in Salmon Creek for that type of care.

"If you're delivering after Oct. 1, in Kaiser, you're already connected to your physician, and you're plan is already beginning to (take) shape," Willoughby said.

The remodeling work, conducted by Legacy Salmon Creek's general contractor, Skanska, is focused on a 9,600-square-foot section of the west wing of the hospital's fourth floor.

Previously, the space harbored conference and locker rooms, and offices. When the renovation wraps up, the new space will house four new labor and delivery rooms, and harbor one new surgical suite, for a total of three.

Hospital officials have said the renovation will enable the Salmon Creek hospital's family birth center to handle an additional 800 deliveries that will shift to the hospital when the Kaiser contract takes effect.

On Wednesday, workers sawed ductwork to pieces. They darted in and out of torn-up rooms. Wiring snaked out of walls.

A system that includes an anteroom and a series of fans keeps dust and debris away from patients at the hospital, said Larry Curran, a Skanska superintendent. The remodeling noise couldn't be heard in nearby parts of the hospital.

The Kaiser switchover will bring other changes to Legacy Salmon Creek, which officials say they're ready to take on. For example, in a typical year the hospital handles about 50,000 visits to its emergency room, according to Willoughby. That's expected to increase by roughly 16 percent to 58,000 under the contract with Kaiser.

Aaron Corvin: http://twitter.com/col_econ;http://on.fb.me/AaronCorvin; 360-735-4518; aaron.corvin@columbian.com