Doctors without boarding

Southwest Washington Medical Center addresses need for more physician offices on campus

Even as a $146 million, 307,000-square-foot expansion is underway at Southwest Washington Medical Center, the hospital continues to look for additional ways to grow. A $28.6 million acquisition gives the hospital immediate new space and more land for future development.

SWMC purchased two adjoining medical buildings on 87th Avenue adjacent to the hospital campus. The medical office buildings, called the Medical Center Physicians Building, total nearly 100,000 square feet. The deal also included five acres of vacant land and a two-level parking structure.

"We expect this campus is going to continue to grow and we need to provide as much flexibility as we can for clinical uses on campus," said Ken Cole, SWMC spokesman. "We have had specific requests from physicians who are hoping to access property close to campus and we would like to make that happen. And I think we are going to accomplish that in a big way with the purchase of the Medical Center Physicians Building."

SWMC had been negotiating a purchase with the property owners for several years.

"Real estate is not getting any cheaper," said Cole. "It came to a critical time for us to make a move."

Cole said the hospital’s long-term master planning identifies the need for more medical office space, something the property purchase helps facilitate.

"The land space gives us more flexibility to perhaps develop that property with other healthcare partners in the future," said Cole.

Prior to the acquisition, SWMC had 121,000 square feet of physician office space, and the hospital would like to create more space on the existing campus for physician offices.

Cole said physicians prefer being in close proximity to the hospital and their patients.

"If they can be as close the hospital as possible, it simplifies their lives tremendously," he said.

Some of the hospital’s administrative and clinical staff occupy about 25 percent of the Medical Center Physicians Building, which is fully leased. The occupational health unit is planned to move to the downtown Vancouver Memorial Health Center campus and administrative staff will move to leased space off campus to allow for additional physician offices.

SWMC leased 30,170 square feet in the MacArthur Building west of the medical center campus on MacArthur Boulevard near Mill Plain Boulevard. The hospital is relocating 150 office support staff to the MacArthur Building. The hospital has leased the entire building, which was extensively remodeled by the owners. SWMC is also investing in technical upgrades for the building. NAI Norris, Beggs and Simpson represented both parties in the transaction.

Legacy ramps up office buildings

Just across town, the new Legacy Salmon Creek Hospital is preparing to ramp up medical office buildings on its recently completed campus, which Cole said has not had an impact on SWMC’s long-term space needs for its campus.

Legacy Salmon Creek Hospital Administrator Jonathan Avery said the majority of the 15 physician groups leasing space within the combined 180,000 square feet of the adjoining medical office buildings will occupy their spaces over the course of the next three months. Avery said there was strong interest from the groups moving onto campus.

"It is a new market for them in terms of geographic location," he said. "Many of them have opened up a second office to allow them to expand their market share. It also makes for a much more efficient relationship with the hospital, because they are located in proximity to all of our services here."

In addition to the physician groups, much of the four-story medical buildings house hospital clinical services. Avery said about 20 percent of the buildings will remain vacant for future expansion.

"We built them for the long-term, for growth," he said.

The hospital opened in August with 151 beds, but was built
for future expansion to include 220 beds. No timeline is set to fill out the remainder of the facilities.

The Vancouver Clinic is building a 91,000-square-foot office on the Legacy campus, which is expected to open in April. The clinic is also leasing space to other medical professionals.

Expansion of hospital parking structure complete

Additional spaces accommodate new patient tower

The first phase of the Southwest Washington Medical Center expansion is complete. Expansion of an existing parking structure was finished in 182 days and added 349 spaces for a total of 625. The three-and-a-half-level parking structure opened last month.

"It opened on schedule and is designed to serve the new patient-tower project when it opens about a year from now," said Ken Cole, SWMC spokesman.

The contractor for the parking structure expansion and the E.W. and Mary Firstenburg Patient Tower project is Hoffman-Andersen of Washington, a Joint Venture.

Construction of the patient tower is on schedule and the structural steel framing has begun and should be in place by the end of the year, said Cole. Completion of the eight-story tower featuring a new heart and vascular center, 15 surgery suites and 154 private patient rooms is expected to be completed in December 2006.