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Opponents shine light on Swedish Cherry Hill expansion

unnamed (35)A protest of the planned expansion of the Swedish Cherry Hill campus will lit up the facility again on Halloween night, CHS is told.

We were sent images and video of a recent “protest projection” to call attention the hospitals “major institution master plan” process slated to be wrapped up by next summer as Swedish prepares to add to its “1.2 million square-foot specialty center” to add capacity for an expected 30 to 50% increase in patients seeking services at the E Cherry facility.

The planned expansion has drawn opposition from many including neighbors in the area who are concerned about increasing the “height, bulk and scale” of the facility.

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Jim98122x
Jim98122x
6 years ago

The video here says “Profit Driven Healthcare is Scary”. OK, but Swedish is actually nonprofit, is it not? The linked PSBJ article says neighbors are concerned the mostly-specialty care at the Cherry Hill location won’t make healthcare more affordable to the community. But then makes no mention of the excellent new Swedish/Country Doctor walk-in evening clinic that offers another care option, especially targeting new patients from the Affordable Care Act that might otherwise fill up the ER. The linked article quotes 3 neighbors. Besides them, how many was the “opposition from many”? Instead of complaining about the lack of transit and neighborhood infrastructure, isn’t it more likely the expanded facilities will bring MORE transit and services to the neighborhood? Maybe not for the immediate neighbors– but this seems like a good thing for the CD in general.

oliveoyl
oliveoyl
6 years ago
Reply to  Jim98122x

Jim, have you seen the proposal for the massive development? For one it is very much out of scale for a neighborhood consisting of primarily single family homes and low rise apartment buildings. Secondly, the existing complex has been unable to hit its transit goals , meaning the surrounding neighborhood is currently adversely impacted by car traffic and employee parking. The proposal doubles (or more) the number of trips to the area each day. Currently bus service doesn’t accomodate the 24-hour nature of a medical complex and I’m sure you’ve noticed that expanding transit in Seattle is a laborious process at best. When Swedish last expanded in 2008 it made promises regarding traffic mitigation which it has yet to fulfill. Currently the proposed project expands the complex from just over 1 million sq ft to over 2.75 million square feet.

BeSkeptical
BeSkeptical
6 years ago
Reply to  Jim98122x

Swedish is technically a non-profit, but their partner Sabey is most decidedly not and they are the ones who are primarily pushing for the expansion. Ignoring the fact that Swedish has a bad track record of being the most expensive healthcare provider in the area and has a pattern of shunting patients with poor insurance to Harborview for the public to pick up the tab, the expansion would be less opposed if it was the hospital actually requesting it. No one is opposed to high quality affordable healthcare.

But that is not what we will get with the expansion. What is allowed within the campus is the hospital and other related businesses. Sabey is aiming for the biggest expansion possible because it makes money on renting very expensive medical suites and offices to “related businesses”. Their ideal is to get approved for millions of square feet and then find that the hospital doesn’t need all that space, freeing up more room on campus for profit making “related businesses”.

And if you think that won’t happen, consider this: Each and every medical campus in Seattle has plans for millions of square feet of expansion (except Group Health). Plus decentalized neighborhood campuses and suburban campuses. All of these plans use the same basic projections based on age and population growth to make projections for how large they would need to be, if they were the only game in town. It will be a hospital bubble and Sabey will be the winner, since it can rent to whatever medical related business wants a new office in central Seattle.

Don’t be fooled by The Country Doctor relationship. It is a lease and it magically appeared after the MIMP process started. You can thank the people who have been critical and put pressure on Swedish for this even happening at all. When the Cherry Hill campus wasn’t being targeted for an excessively major expansion, nothing like this was in the works and Swedish was not very engaged in trying to meet its end of the 1994 MIMP that governed the campus. Once the MIMP is in place, the Country Doctor’s days are numbered.

There are many neighbors who oppose this, but perhaps more telling is the the CAC, which is selected by the hospital and the city together, has stated that the plans are egregious. The first set of alternatives was unanimously rejected by the CAC. That’s pretty unheard of. The passed a bylaw amendment to prevent Swedish from shifting important meetings to other sites to stifle public comment and participation. The more recent alternatives were also informally voted on and rejected. The CAC is made up of people from a number of different backgrounds and was most assuredly stacked to be in favor of the plan… and yet, THEY oppose it. Not to the same level as some of the most vocal and affected neighbors, but when that happens you know something is wrong with the concept they are pushing or how they are going about trying to get CAC buy in.

As for transit, I’d encourage you to read the EIS. The number of intersections in the neighborhood that will be a LOS E (worst) will go up under the plan, which will make transit less attractive and feasible. The 3 and 4 reliability will go down, as will driving conditions. It’s a huge expansion in a neighborhood that is not designed to handle intense commercial enterprises of this size. This is not downtown. This is Cherry Hill and three of the four sides of Swedish Cherry Hill are residential areas with lots of single family homes. Nothing of similar size and intensity has been proposed in any residential neighborhood anywhere else in Seattle. The closest examples are Virginia Mason and Swedish First Hill for expansion plans that have scope, but these campuses do not exist in similar contexts. The most similar context would be Seattle Children’s, which is a MUCH different plan, with a MUCH different ownership arrangement, and with leadership that handled outreach MUCH differently. If you compare these plans, it becomes very clear that the plan for Swedish Cherry Hill is inappropriate for our neighborhood context.

Ryan
Ryan
6 years ago

The proposed expansion is a big deal for Seattle and the CD. Hope to hear more on this story moving forward.

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