Executive Constantine proposes Harborview bond measure for November ballot

Friday, April 17, 2020

Harborview Adult Clinic
Photo courtesy UW Medicine

King County Executive Dow Constantine transmitted legislation to the King County Council Thursday that would place a capital improvement bond measure before King County voters on the November 2020 General Election ballot.

The measure seeks voter approval of $1.74 billion in general obligation bond funding over 20 years for health and safety improvements at King County’s Harborview Medical Center, including: increasing critical health care capacity; updating and expanding infection control capability; and expanding capacity for behavioral health services.

“This is our generational obligation - to ensure our region continues to be the best place in the country to receive emergency medical care. There are a lot of competing needs – this is one where we are compelled to step up. It is a priority we must not postpone and cannot ignore,” said Executive Constantine.

Harborview is a 413-licensed bed hospital owned by King County and operated by University of Washington Medicine. Harborview Medical Center is home to a range of critical medical and behavioral health services.

The medical center combines state-of-the-art emergency medical services with general medicine and specialty clinics including centers of excellence in burn, neurosciences, ophthalmology, infectious disease, rehab therapy.

One of the nation’s leading academic medical centers, and the only Level 1 Trauma Center serving Alaska, Idaho, Montana, and Washington, Harborview employs about 5,400 people.

In 2018:

  • 16,716 patients were admitted 
  • 57,516 visited the Emergency Department
  • 262,132 were seen on an outpatient basis

Although the proposal does not seek to increase the number of state licensed hospital beds for Harborview, it enables much more efficient use of those beds by creating more single occupancy rooms. It also ensures greater flexibility for Harborview to surge in the event of a disaster, mass casualty event, or pandemic.

Because of facility configuration and capacity constraints, every day an estimated 50 of the 413 licensed beds are unusable due to infection control protocols. 

This means that patients awaiting an acute care bed are kept in expensive ICU beds or surgical recovery rooms, which can impact length of stay for patients.

It also means that vital surge capacity – the ability to house more patients in the event of an emergency like COVID-19 – is severely limited.

With more single occupancy rooms and larger Emergency Department, Harborview would be better able to serve patients, particularly during a disaster or pandemic.

Trauma patients from Shoreline, Lake Forest Park, and most of the north Sound area are taken to Harborview.


Anonymous,  April 17, 2020 at 9:59 AM  

So a $1.74 billion bond is required to allow the hospital to utilize the 50 beds that are not used because of infection control procedures? Yikes.

Anonymous,  April 17, 2020 at 2:39 PM  

Harborview is the only level 1 trauma center for a five state region- trauma patients are flown in from all of Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana, and Idaho.

Anonymous,  April 20, 2020 at 8:46 AM  

"Harborview is the only level 1 trauma center for a five state region- trauma patients are flown in from all of Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana, and Idaho". All the more reason for the over-taxed residents of King County not to bear the sole burden for this

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