Guest: Swedish Cherry Hill must grow for health of community
Swedish Cherry Hill is more than 100 years old and has reached its capacity, limiting the ability to meet current and future demand for health care, writes guest columnist Andy Cosentino.
Special to The Times
SINCE the Swedish Cherry Hill hospital campus was founded in 1910, it has been recognized as a center of health-care excellence. In addition to providing primary care and emergency services, its Neuroscience and Heart & Vascular Institutes provide some of the most advanced, quality care in the country. Both institutes have been recognized by independent national ranking organizations as leaders in their respective fields.
However, the current campus in Seattle has reached capacity, limiting its ability to meet current and future demand. Swedish Cherry Hill is also more than 100 years old and features a patchwork of facilities, many of which must be replaced to meet new standards for patient care.
Swedish Cherry Hill must be allowed to grow — the health of our community depends on it.
Recognizing the important role that hospitals provide within the community, the City of Seattle has created a specialized public-planning process called a Major Institution Master Plan (MIMP) that is meant to develop a thoughtful and balanced long-range development plan of the institution’s property.
Swedish is working with the Citizens Advisory Committee, Squire Park neighbors and the City of Seattle to develop a master plan that weighs the needs of the hospital with the vision for the local neighborhood. The goal is to develop a plan through shared compromise that can be recommended by the Citizen’s Advisory Committee and eventually adopted by the City of Seattle.
Studies show that in order for Swedish Cherry Hill to meet the community’s growing demand for health care over the next 30 years, the campus will need to add approximately 1.9 million new square feet, which amounts to a growth rate of about 3 percent a year.
A number of factors are driving growth for health-care demand in our community: our region’s expanding population; the Affordable Care Act, which will continue adding people to our health system for years to come; and an aging population.
While the overall population for King County is expected to grow 25 percent by 2040, the over-65 population is expected to grow by 127 percent. Patients suffering from disorders of the heart, brain and spine, as well as chronic diseases such as coronary artery disease, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, are increasing since these conditions are more prevalent in an aging population. They are also the conditions that world-class doctors at our Cherry Hill Neuroscience and Heart & Vascular Institutes are committed to treating, and potentially even curing.
Life-changing treatments at Cherry Hill are impacting patients of all ages. Consider the case of Ian Curtis, who was diagnosed at 9 years old with dystonia, a disorder characterized by involuntary muscle contractions. He spent the next 17 years in a wheelchair. Ian had deep brain stimulation surgery (where a tiny wire is implanted in a specific area of the brain) at the Neuroscience Institute in July 2013 and five months later he was walking to school.
Finally, as medical leaders, Cherry Hill physicians are actively engaged in training future medical specialists and in clinical research that has great promise for discovering new and novel treatments for some of our most challenging and debilitating diseases.
Our community deserves access to this state-of-the-art health care.
Swedish recognizes that with expansion comes impact. For more than a year, Swedish has opened its doors to hear our neighbors’ concerns. In response, our leadership has developed 10 different master plan alternatives that address various concerns raised by our neighbors. Each alternative has taken us a step closer to a final plan, including a draft Major Institution Master Planand environmental impact statement.
It will take continued creativity, compromise, courage and, most of all, commitment from all stakeholders to complete the final master plan. The expansion and evolution of our health-care infrastructure is an investment we must make in order to ensure the continued health of our community.
Andy Cosentino is vice president of the Neuroscience Institute at Swedish Cherry Hill in Seattle.