RICHLAND, Wash. -- For the last three years, two of the area's biggest hospitals have been battling for more hospital beds.
The Washington State Department of Health determines how many hospital beds are allowed per community. In 2009, both Kadlec Regional Medical Center and Kennewick General Hospital put in applications for more beds. Kadlec asked for 114 extra beds, and KGH wanted 25 more, to put the majority of their beds to their new Southridge facility.
But DOH granted Kadlec only 55, and none for KGH. " We in the Department of Health have very consistently, always relied on the OFM (Office of Financial Management) medium series projections. They're not overly conservative and they're not overly optimistic," said Bart Eggen the Executive Director of Facility at the Washington Department of Health. Eggen said OFM does base their decisions on population growth models and they have never in history did so on high projections.
Jim Hall with Kadlec says it's time they looked at our growth rate over the last ten years. "They should go outside their normal way of looking at things on that average growth projection. And go wait a minute, you are growing at faster rate in the Tri-Cities area and we should allow you the full 114," Hall said.
Hall says the 270 bed hospital has specialty departments that are often times at capacity or close to it. On Thursday afternoon, many departments were filled. "Our intensive care unit is 100% full. This floor that we're on, the sixth floor of the River Pavilion is 86%full, our NICU is 96% full," said Hall. The total hospital was operating at 67% capacity for that afternoon.
Eggen says it's not too full to properly function. "For a hospital the size of Kadlec, anything from 200-299 beds, we actually have an occupancy expectation of 70%There's quite a few beds throughout the facility, they need to reposition them in some way. That's all left to them," he said.
Kadlec is currently in the process of appealing the Department of Health's decision, and its already in the State Appellate Court.
KGH is also in the process of appealing DOH's decision to not give them the 25 more beds, and are appealing their decision to allow Kadlec to have 55 more beds. However, they are earlier in their appeal process.
Hall doesn't expect to hear any new developments until 2013.