Our Voice: Trios ribbon-cutting a community celebration

This spring already has been a big season of celebration and many more events are to come.

For one local hospital, the ribbon-cutting ceremony last month marked a victory in a yearslong struggle to build a new facility.

Trios Health, formerly known as Kennewick General Hospital, marked the occasion with all the bells and whistles, including a cornerstone ceremony, tours, the presentation of ceremonial scissors to the dignitaries who snipped the ribbon and even a cake that was a replica of the new building.

The 168,000-square-foot hospital certainly marks a new era for the 62-year-old public hospital district. Its Auburn Street facility opened in 1952 and is showing its age. Services are scattered throughout the campus and the buildings are hemmed in by businesses and homes, leaving the aging hospital with nowhere to grow or expand.

Once the Southridge hospital opens its doors next month, the Auburn Street campus will become a facility for women and children, including a family birthing center and pediatric care.

The new hospital has 74 private patient rooms and 27 emergency and trauma service rooms, as well as six operating rooms. The facility and its equipment are state-of-the-art, including $10 million in imaging equipment from Phillips Healthcare. The hospital will serve as a showcase for Phillips and the company will bring prospective clients to Trios to see the equipment in a hospital setting.

Trios Southridge Hospital is one of many long-standing proposed community projects that many thought would likely never come to fruition. A bond measure to finance the new hospital was soundly rejected. The hospital then tried for a loan from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, but that didn't work out either.

In the end, the new facility was built with a somewhat unusual model -- Trios is a tenant in the building, which is owned by the construction company that built it.

Trios has a 30-year-lease with an option to buy the building after the first 10-year term. Trios will pay Wisconsin-based C.D. Smith Construction about $800,000 per month.

We won't dwell today on that daunting financial responsibility ahead for Trios because this is a celebration of a major milestone for a cornerstone of care in our community. Many people worked tirelessly to see this hospital materialize and their efforts deserve recognition. It was no easy task.

A walk through the new hospital shows the care and consideration that went into its development. The decor colors are in "healing" shades, ample seating built to accommodate folks of all sizes is available for patients and families, departments flow from one to the next for ease of moving patients, and the hallways are easy to navigate.

The hospital even has a couple RV spaces for families of patients that want to stay on the campus.

The building itself is something to see. An atrium with a piano and a lovely outdoor patio are a few of the unexpected features. A medical office building is under construction next door and will bring more services to customers of the campus.

Many hurdles were tossed in the path to the hospital opening. An issue with an elevator even pushed back the opening to mid-July. But the folks at Trios take those kind of things in stride now after overcoming so many obstacles to get to this point.

For those who wondered if this hospital would ever be built, the answer is now very clear.