The city of Montesano is pursuing a plan to build a medical center in the town to attract health care providers in hopes of enhancing medical services to the community — but also as an economic development tool.
The city requested a total of $1 million from the county’s economic development funds for “preparation of preliminary documents for site and infrastructure improvements.” County commissioners have approved $50,000 — as requested for the first year, to do preliminary work and site study — but did not approve the additional funds.
In documents supporting the county funding request, the city estimated building a medical facility would eventually cost $9.6 million, with funding from several sources.
“I am in the middle of negotiating what that’s going to look like,” Montesano Mayor Vini Samuel said after a recent City Council session. “We’re still trying to work out some pieces.”
The mayor has been pushing for an expansion of medical facilities, either for Grays Harbor Community Hospital to enhance its current clinic, or for Summit Pacific Medical Center to base a “residency” program at a facility in Monte that would be staffed by residents from medical schools, though neither have committed.
Documents the city provided to county commissioners indicate that the original idea for the proposed facility has expanded since talk began of opening a residency clinic.
According to the funding request documents:
The city set aside $680,000 toward the project from its general fund and plans to take $420,000 from its utility and street funds. It hopes to get $4 million from the Legislature and $1.4 million from the Transportation Improvement Board. The other $2.1 million would come in the form of a bank loan.
“The focus of the project is on rural health care reform and economic development by creating a public-private partnership for a medical center hosting multiple clinics which support residency rotation in internal, family medicine and pediatric care and pediatric mental health. Hospital rotations could include Grays Harbor and Pacific counties.”
The center would be located on what is commonly referred to as the “park and ride” at 112 S. Main St., south of the railroad tracks, west of South Sylvia Street and east of Main Street.
The city expects 85 jobs to be created by the project with “three medical offices (with a total of 5 physicians).”
“The Center could also hold upwards of 3-8 residents each year depending on clinics’ buy-in. To encourage residencies, the city would offer to subsidize the resident by offering a lower than market rent for any clinic which is willing to open its doors to residents who will care for Medicare and Medicaid patients.”
“We’ll be doing some preliminary geotechnical work with the money” from the county, Montesano Public Works Director Mike Olden said at a recent City Council meeting. The city also will use the funds to work with the state Department of Transportation because the agency has limited access to the land, he said.
Originally, the city had discussed a smaller facility.
“Initially, this project was in a smaller scope until after conversations with providers, and mayors in Pacific County, it was discovered that building a center to house multiple clinics with residencies allowed access to those residents by four hospitals in these two counties,” the application for county funds states. “The (Montesano) Council and Mayor recognize the critical need for such a Center and are willing to take the risks necessary to lead rural health care reform in our area.”
The county money will come from the distressed county sales and use tax.