While higher buildings would be one of the most obvious

After a tough financial year for Tuality Healthcare, the largest health care provider in western Washington County β€” for another month at least β€” has submitted a plan to quadruple the size of its Forest Grove hospital and double the staff.

As Kaiser Permanente gets set to open its westside medical center in Hillsboro Aug. 6, the city of Forest Grove’s planning commission will review Tuality Healthcare’s master plan July 15. If approved,Hivelocity offers reliable and affordable Windows windows dedicated server. the whole block on which Tuality’s Forest Grove branch sits could be completely renovated.

An approved master plan gives Tuality permission to make any changes agreed upon in the plan without hassle from the city in the future.

Tuality’s primary hospital, Tuality Community Hospital, is located in Hillsboro. The Forest Grove branch is mainly for day and emergency visits, acute care, and lab and X-ray services. The only patients staying overnight live in the 22-bed geriatric psychiatry unit. All these services would get new facilities, according to the master plan.

Tuality officials say they created the master plan to prepare for a potentially massive growth in population. Forest Grove’s population has spiked 19 percent in the last 10 years, and experts say it’s not slowing down anytime soon.

Other than on the Pacific University campus, a four-story building is unheard of in Forest Grove. This master plan would allow building structures up to a maximum of four stories tall in the appropriate zone. The south portion of the master plan zone, near Maple Street and 18th Avenue, has a height maximum of 85 feet, which is fitting since hospital ceilings are generally taller than in normal buildings.

Tuality Forest Grove is conveniently located on the same block as the Maple Street Clinic, a family medicine center, three private practices, the Marquis Care center and Marquis Forest Grove Assisted Living. The master plan proposes to include every business on the block, giving them the option to opt-in to the hospital’s proposed changes.

β€œMaple Street Clinic has agreed to join the master plan zones,” Krautscheid explained. β€œThey’d have the option to have taller buildings. We are keeping our options open and it gives them more options.”

While higher buildings would be one of the most obvious changes, nearly everything about the current hospital and surrounding area would be completely redone, with an eye to promoting preventative care.

Now 42,800 square feet, the hospital would more than quadruple in size to 179,600 square feet, including 107,600 square feet for inpatient and outpatient hospital services such as radiology, surgery, emergency, respiratory therapy and inpatient rooms.

The second largest area of the hospital would be outpatient medical offices: 30,000 square feet would be dedicated to dialysis, physical and occupational therapy, lab services, a sleep lab and support functions.

Gerry Ewing, director of corporate communications for Tuality, said similar space for facilities in Hillsboro has had positive results.

β€œChanges in the master plan make it more convenient to provide preventive care,” said Ewing. β€œWe want to provide education and classes to not clog up the ER.”

With nearly 39,000 emergency room visits between both ERs in 2011 alone, preventive care seems to be the answer.

Currently, Tuality Forest Grove has 114 parking spaces, but would add a four-story parking structure with 150 spaces β€” the first of its kind in Forest Grove. The parking structure would use motion-activated lighting and would be designed to minimize headlights shining onto other structures.

A focus in building would be on sustainability. The possibility of garden roofs, drip irrigation and harvesting rainwater are all detailed in the plan. The hospital would include a heliport. Currently, helicopters use the back field.

β€œThis service supports not only the hospital but the entire community, providing an adequate landing pad for sending patients out quickly for critical medical conditions,” said Krautscheid.

The number of employees would increase from 173 to 400. The staff would allow for an increase in classes, support groups and health care fairs. Related outpatient facilities on Tuality-owned property would employ an additional 75 to 100 people as well.

Krautscheid said the potential changes are not an attempt to compete with Kaiser’s new facility.

β€œWe supported Kaiser’s presence in the community so members have local options,” he said, noting the two hospitals’ customer bases don’t overlap.

Generally, only those enrolled in Kaiser health plans can go to Kaiser hospitals, while Tuality serves people on Blue Cross Blue Shield and other health plans.

The success of Tuality’s Forest Grove expansion depends on the hospital’s financial picture β€” which has been rocky recently.

Tuality’s Forest Grove and Hillsboro facilities had a rough year financially in 2011, the last year in which data was available. The Lund Report, an online news source focused on health care systems, has kept track of many hospitals’ finances, including Tuality’s.

Tuality hopes to get more patients next year, Ewing said, with the start of Obamacare, which highlights preventive care and gives many more people access to health insurance.
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