Hospital folks begin planning expansion

Now that voters have spoken, hospital officials are beginning to plan the expansion of Whidbey General’s Coupeville campus.

Voters appear to have approved a $50-million bond proposal that will fund construction of a new wing at the publicly owned hospital. As of Nov. 7, 13,063 Whidbey Island voters approved the bond while 8,169 voters rejected it, which is above the 60 percent supermajority needed to pass.

With the bond passing, hospital officials are starting to plan for the new wing. Spokeswoman Trish Rose said no timelines have been set yet.

“We haven’t done any of the detail planning,” Rose said before Monday’s hospital board meeting. “We didn’t want to until the bond had passed.”

The hospital’s building committee will meet later in November to examine regulations and go over possible building methods before forwarding a recommendation to the hospital board of commissioners. Once the construction method is decided, then the project will go out to bid.

Hospital officials needed the bond to finance construction of a new wing that will be located on the south end of the hospital’s Coupeville campus. The new, 31,000-square-foot wing will include single-patient rooms along with additional space to accommodate future growth. A new parking lot will be built to replace the one that is lost with the addition of the new wing. The current patient wing will be modified for clinic space for hospital services.

The Nov. 5 election marked the second time Whidbey General leaders asked voters to approve bonds to pay for expansion. In 2011, it failed to top the 60 percent supermajority needed for approval.

This time around, however, the hospital benefited with the help from the Friends of Whidbey General Hospital, a volunteer group tasked with promoting the bond. The volunteers focused their efforts on the north end of the island.

The volunteers’ work seemed to have been fruitful. The majority of precincts on the north end of Whidbey saw more than 50 percent of the voters support the bond, including all of the Oak Harbor precincts. Percentages in Oak Harbor precincts ranged from 57 percent to 76.5 percent approval. The approval rate in North Whidbey precincts ranged from 41.5 percent to 58.79 percent. As of Nov. 7, the Island County Auditor’s Office received 21,232 votes for the bond.  With the bond’s approval, property owners will pay approximately 32 cents per $1,000 assessed property value for 25 years. The owner of a $250,000 home will pay approximately $81.

Rose said volunteers are busy picking up promotional signs, which will be recycled.


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