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Samaritan leadership presents replacement hospital update to Board of Commissioners.

For more information, contact Gretchen Youngren.

­­Samaritan leadership presents replacement hospital update to Board of Commissioners.

Contributed by Gretchen Youngren

MOSES LAKE – The Samaritan Healthcare Board of Commissioners met to hear an update about the replacement hospital from the Samaritan Leadership Team.

A Medical/Surgical patient room in the community-owned replacement hospital provides space for family members to stay when conditions allow.

Formed in 1947 as Grant County Public Hospital District No. 1, Samaritan Hospital is a community hospital—owned and governed by local citizens. As a community hospital, decision-making is made within the community and not by an outside corporation.

“Over the years, Samaritan Healthcare has deliberately chosen to keep our healthcare local as we provide care and services that are tailored to meet the unique needs of our communities,” said Theresa Sullivan, CEO of Samaritan Healthcare. “Moses Lake is growing into a regional community, and our hospital has grown into a regional healthcare facility. Sufficient space to expand would allow us to build our community-owned replacement hospital to provide hometown healthcare for generations into the future.”

In responses to two surveys in 2016 and 2018, Grant County residents identified the top four needs to improve the community healthcare experience: more primary care and specialty providers, recruit and retain the best possible staff, modern and up-to-date facilities, and reduce the need to travel outside the area for healthcare.

As the area continues to grow, the need for a replacement hospital on a larger site has become urgently needed. The population has grown 800% since 1948 and use of the Emergency Department has increased 340% since the 1975 ED renovation. The last time the emergency department expanded was in 2016 which added 3 flex care rooms—flex care rooms are for lower-level quick care, not emergency level care.

On-staff providers have tripled over the last seven years, and seven new medical specialties have been added: Allergy, Behavioral Health, Cardiology, Diabetes Care, Gastroenterology, Neurology, and Pain Management.

In July, the Board of Commissioners postponed groundbreaking due to the difference between increased replacement hospital project costs caused by COVID, inflation, rising labor costs, and available funds.

Since that time, Samaritan staff has been actively exploring all options. They also still hold the non-renewable USDA 2.25% low-interest loan that must be used by September 2026. The Samaritan Building Committee has also diligently managed the expenses for the project—reducing costs, but not reducing patient care or functionality. In addition, Samaritan has worked through three alternative options for a replacement hospital, which were presented to the Board of Commissioners.


Hospital replacement construction plan:

Option 1: Current Plan – Replace Hospital on Clover Drive: Development of complete replacement on Clover Drive as designed. With funding, could re-bid the project and be under construction late summer 2023. Increases Emergency, surgical, and ambulatory capacity.


  • Addresses immediate need for access and growth; especially for undersized ED and Surgery
  • Assures Samaritan can meet future community demand for care
  • 2.5% interest rate
  • Will never be less expensive
  • Efficient/Consolidated Services
  • Uninterrupted operations during construction
  • Chassis for next 50+ years
  • Recruitment/Retention


  • Cost of project greater than expected—and may depend on outside source of funding


Alternative construction plans:

Option 2: Phased Construction on Current Site (new and remodel): A combination of new and remodeled space on the current site. Would require multiple phases and would take twice as long to complete, exposing risk to uncertainty of costs. Current site constraints would make this difficult and would result in decreased ability to meet patient needs during construction.


  • Slower cash flow demands


  • 50% more expensive than new site
  • Historically low USDA 2.5% interest rate loan cannot be used, new funding source is required
  • Operating a hospital in the middle of construction zone
  • Phasing will take a minimum of 6 years to complete
  • Parking—community nightmare
  • Decreased profitability due to disruptions and operating expenses
  • Investing in a landlocked site is not good for future development


Option 3: Split Operations (2 campus plan): Develop an operating plan to continue services at current site AND provide services at Clover Drive site. Split operations would be ambulatory (not inpatient).


  • Lower capital cost than complete replacement


  • Increased operating expenses
  • Staffing challenges, due to need to duplicate some services at both campuses (ie: imaging, pharmacy, lab)
  • Remodel costs at old hospital
  • USDA Financing questionable.
  • Will take longer to complete.
  • Certificate of Need required
  • Potential confusion re: access


Option 4: Hold off on any significant facility improvements: Let the current economic “storm” pass and consider expansion in the future


  • Saves capital for future use


  • Current project will only be more expensive in future
  • Lose access to USDA 2.25% funding
  • No guarantee of feasibility
  • Risk losing specialists in town
  • Patient/Community satisfaction
  • Continue sending community out of area for basic services
  • Staff recruitment/retention

“Our community is growing at a rapid pace. Since 2010, Moses Lake’s population has grown 80% faster than Grant County and 85% faster than Washington State overall,” said Theresa Sullivan. “Our Emergency Department has 9 beds and will see 24,000 annual visits in 2022. The American College of Emergency Services recommends that an ED with 20,000 visits annually should have a minimum of 15 beds. Presently, our ED is operating at 200% above the recommended capacity. Expanding our ED for our community, staff, and doctors is now critical. The need of our community and the cost of our replacement hospital will continue to rise. Not moving forward with our community-owned replacement hospital places our community in danger of losing Emergency Department staff and doctors, who are overwhelmed within their current setting. We as a community are growing, and we as a community do not have the ability to stand still.”

Considering the Support of the Community
While presenting to the Board of Commissioners, Samaritan staff highlighted that in order to move forward with the construction of a new hospital as originally intended, we will need the Board of Commissioners to consider a voted bond proposition asking for the community’s financial support. “The financial needs have grown significantly, and we are going to need the support of the community to build our replacement hospital,” said Alex Town, Chief Administrative Officer of Samaritan Healthcare. “We know there is no path forward with the original plan for our replacement hospital without a bond to cover a portion of the cost. COVID, plus rising inflation, forced this change in financial need. This was the perfect storm.”

Board of Commissioners
The possibility of needing a public bond was communicated to the Board of Commissioners as an option. There was discussion for next steps to present this updated information to both the Samaritan Healthcare organization/staff and the community. No Board decision was made at this time.

Community Open House Planned
Learn more about the plans for the community-owned replacement hospital and ask your questions. Please feel free to stop in at any time during the upcoming Open House hours.

January 18th, 2023
4p to 7:30p
Moses Lake City Hall
401 S Balsam Street
Moses Lake, WA 98837.

* Renderings for concept only, subject to change.

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