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Public hearing July 15 on annexation for proposed medical center

The proposed site of Peace Island Medical Center. The public will access the medical center from San Juan Valley Road; the medical center will have emergency access to Friday Harbor Airport.  - San Juan Community Hospital Committee
The proposed site of Peace Island Medical Center. The public will access the medical center from San Juan Valley Road; the medical center will have emergency access to Friday Harbor Airport.
— image credit: San Juan Community Hospital Committee

The proposed Peace Island Medical Center takes another big step forward next month.

A public hearing is scheduled July 15, 5:35 p.m., at Friday Harbor Town Hall on the annexation of 22 acres for the proposed medical center.

The land was purchased from the Boe family by PeaceHealth in July 2009, four months after PeaceHealth and the island's hospital district commission approved a 50-year contract authorizing PeaceHealth to build and operate a new medical center here.

The medical center will be located at 1049 San Juan Valley Road, adjacent to Friday Harbor Airport. It will feature an expanded primary care and specialty clinic, an expanded diagnostic services center, a 24-hour emergency room, and a 10-bed critical access hospital.

When completed, the current Inter Island Medical Center on Spring Street will close. The publicly-elected hospital district commission will be directly responsible for San Juan EMS; an oversight committee appointed by PeaceHealth will be directly responsible for the medical center. PeaceHealth will be responsible for the financial operations of the medical center, but will receive more than $1 million a year — about $60 million over the life of the contract — in local property tax revenues to subsidize health care.

Jim Barnhart, who is slated to be Peace Island's administrator, said design is expected to be completed by January 2011. Permitting is expected to be completed by April 2011. Construction is expected to be completed by July 2012, with the first patient being admitted that August.

Charles Anderson, chairman of the San Juan Community Hospital Committee, the main proponent of the medical center project, said the hospital will be connected to town water and sewer, but will have on-site water storage and pumps for fire protection.

The site will also use on-site wetlands to control the flow of stormwater. The site will feature a wetland restoration project, public trails, and healing gardens. "There will be a campus feel," Anderson told the Friday Harbor Town Council during a recent presentation. "It will be a public site, beyond being a medical center."

All told, the project is a $32 million project; one-third is covered by philanthropy, the rest by PeaceHealth. Anderson said the project will generate $500,000 in permit fees, $4 million paid to local contractors, $10 million in first-year revenue, and will create 24 new full-time-equivalent jobs and an annual payroll of $4 million.

"Wow. It's like Santa Claus came to town," Councilwoman Carrie Brooks said.

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