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Skyline building project officially launched

Ground breaking ceremony turns first shovel of dirt

A new era for Skyline Hospital took wing on Friday with a ground-breaking ceremony for a substantial new addition.

About 50 people were on hand to watch 12 dignitaries -- including Skyline CEO Mike Madden, State Sen. Jim Honeyford, and Klickitat County Commissioner Rex Johnston -- turn the first shovelsful of dirt.

With the Aug. 1 ceremony, Skyline officially launched the construction of a new hospital wing, which will see the relocation of all the existing patient rooms into the new 14,000 square foot facility. Included with the project will be another 10,000 square feet in an unfinished basement that will be available to be prepared for further expansion as needed in the future. Skyline has a total of about 30,000 square feet now, so the expansion will indeed add a significant amount of new space.

"Another component of healing is environment," said CEO Madden before the dignitaries wielded their shovels, which had been painted gold. "And a big component of that is the view. We think it'll be conducive for providing the excellent health care this part of the county deserves."

The view from the site where the new wing will be built is indeed spectacular, with the Columbia River below and tree-covered bluffs rising on both sides of the river.

The new patient wing will house 17 single-bed patient rooms, with private bathrooms and showers. With the hospital's existing patient rooms, bathrooms and showers are shared. Currently, all of Skyline's 12 patient rooms are geared to handle two patients at once.

Other efficiencies include having CT scan and X-ray services located next to each other, as well as offering nursing stations that will be closer to the patient rooms.

"Over the last 56 years, people have relied upon Skyline," said Hospital Commissioner David Elkins. "We want our patients to have an experience that clearly demonstrates we care for their well being. Our new patient wing will allow us to further enhance the patient's experience, with the view and layout to allow staff to enhance patient care in this facility."

The price tag on the new building is expected to be about $15.2 million, but none of the costs will be put on the backs of taxpayers living within the Skyline Hospital District. Construction will be paid for via revenue bonds that will be paid back through hospital revenues.

Dr. Ray Fitzsimmons, one of the physicians with Mid-Columbia Family Health Clinic, praised Madden for his guidance of the hospital, which is now seeing the most significant addition since the hospital was built in 1952.

"Who could have imagined building this, and without going to the taxpayers for one cent," Fitzsimmons said. "I'm very happy that this facility is going to be built, and it's because the community supports our health care system that it's going to happen."

Dr. Cindy Horton, Skyline's chief of medical staff, said she was elated that the hospital would be able to vastly upgrade its facilities.

"I'm excited that we're going to have this great new modern facility," Horton said.

Janet Holen, a member of the Skyline Hospital Board of Commissioners, said the project represented a great leap forward for the hospital.

"It's very exciting progress for the hospital so we can better serve the community. It will make a tremendous difference," Holen said. "This will really bring the hospital into the 21st century."

Hospital officials anticipate that the new wing will be completed in late 2009.


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