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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

August 18, 2009 at 4:00 PM

Children’s hospital: Is the problem zealous neighbors or aggressive expansion?

Don’t let emotion determine hospital’s expansion

There are grave problems with the Seattle Children’s hospital expansion [“Examiner calls Children’s expansion too ‘aggressive,’ ” NWThursday, Aug. 13]. that go beyond destroying a community’s livability.

The first misunderstanding is that Children’s hospital is adding more patient beds. Children’s is petitioning the city for more square footage. It is the state that will determine how many beds can be added and, according to Children’s own statistics, it is not eligible for the 350 beds it desires.

Like most hospitals in the area, when Children’s refers to operating at capacity it is often referring to staffing issues not actual beds. If a hospital does not have the necessary staff-to-bed ratio, the hospital can be operating at capacity even with empty beds. As a tax-exempt entity, overbuilding would turn Children’s into a financial succubus.

There seems to be blind allegiance to Children’s hospital simply because it is a children’s hospital. City planning should not be determined based on emotion, and no single entity, even one grounded in good works, should be allowed carte blanche to bypass building codes and laws.

Children’s is a large institution and medicine is big business. Other area hospitals are quickly adding specialized pediatric services, and there is global competition for funding and prestige. In medicine, bigger is better.

— Tonya Clegg, Seattle

Hospital opposition taking isolation to extremes

It appears on the surface that some well-meaning and well-placed citizens of the Laurelhurst community have raised their small but loud voice once again.

My family lived in Laurelhurst for six years, and we experienced firsthand the zeal these community leaders can direct toward elected officials. They have always fought Children’s hospital, and if you look at the adjustments the hospital has made over the years, I’d think you’d agree that Children’s has always been a good neighbor. Their push to isolate the neighborhood has always gone to extremes.

During our time in Laurelhurst, there was an organized effort to call the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport tower whenever a jet flight path made its way over our neighborhood.

This group wants to isolate the Laurelhurst neighborhood from everything. It fights growth. Why? Because it may create congestion, influence property values, impact driving times or other factors that the rest of Seattle is dealing with on a daily basis.

Laurelhurst is part of Seattle and Children’s has always been a part of Laurelhurst.

Do not let a few well-placed citizens worried about their conveniences influence the next generation of health care for our children and our children’s children.

— Bill Blanchard, Kirkland

Seattle Children’s not the only pediatric hospital in state

On behalf of MultiCare Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital & Health Center, I would like to respond to an erroneous statement made in The Seattle Times Aug. 13 in the article, “Hearing examiner calls Seattle Children’s hospital expansion ‘too aggressive.’ ”

The statement, “Children’s is the only pediatric hospital in the four-state region of Washington, Alaska, Idaho and Montana,” is not accurate.

MultiCare Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital & Health Center in Tacoma has been serving as a trusted pediatric referral center for children across the region since 1955. In fact, we often see patients from Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon and even Canada.

As the designated Level II Pediatric Trauma Center for Southwest Washington, Mary Bridge operates one of the busiest pediatric emergency departments in the state. This high level of care for children continues throughout the hospital with a 13-bed Pediatric Intensive Care Unit and a Medical/Surgical Unit.

We also offer pediatric specialist physicians in a wide range of disciplines. Supplementing our inpatient services is a network of Mary Bridge outpatient clinics in Pierce, King, Kitsap and Thurston Counties.

— Madlyn Murrey, Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital & Health Center vice president, Tacoma

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