Spokane Journal of Business

WSU’s University District Health Clinic gets green light

$16.25 million project set to get started yet this year

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The Washington State University Board of Regents has approved the sale of up to $16.25 million in revenue bonds, to be used for the design and construction of its planned University District Health Clinic, east of downtown Spokane. 

The two-story, 42,000-square-foot clinic is expected to open in 2016 and will be constructed on the WSU Spokane campus at the site of the former Peirone Produce Co. warehouse, east of the South Campus Facility near the Spokane River, says WSU Spokane spokeswoman Terren Roloff. 

Spokane construction firm Bouten Construction Co. will be the contractor, and NAC|Architecture, also of Spokane, is the designer for the project. Construction is slated to begin late this year, Roloff says. 

The clinic is being spearheaded by a community consortium called the Spokane Teaching Health Center, which is made up of Empire Health Foundation, Providence Health Care, and WSU Spokane. It was formed last November for the purpose of obtaining federal teaching health center funds to create more physician residency positions here. 

The completed clinic will serve as a training ground for new physicians and other medical staff, as well as to add more much-needed medical residencies here, Roloff says. Recently-graduated physicians typically must complete a three-year residency with an accredited training program before they can apply for board certification in a specialty.

WSU Spokane Chancellor Lisa Brown couldn’t be reached immediately for comment. However, in a press release about the trustees’ action, she said, “The community has strived for years to increase resident slots as a way to ensure physicians stay in the region once they complete their medical education.”

Providence Health Care, the Spokane-based health care provider network, will relocate its family- and internal-medicine residency programs and clinic from its facilities to the new clinic, Roloff says. 

The consortium hopes to create 39 additional residencies over the next five years with the completion of the clinic, Roloff says.  

There currently are 1,500 medical residents in the state, but only 80 in Eastern Washington, Roloff says. Six of those positions began this July, after the consortium secured $900,000 in federal funding through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Resources and Services Administration for them earlier this year.   

“Assuming funding continues, we’ll get … another six a year for three years, and then we’re trying to get the 39 on top of that,” Roloff says. 

About $2.7 million in federal funding would be necessary for the 18 additional residencies. WSU has estimated that 150 residencies are needed in Eastern Washington in the next 10 years to meet demand. 

The clinic also will serve as a teaching site for other students in the health sciences field. 

Katie Ross
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Reporter Katie Ross covers manufacturing, hospitality, and government at the Journal of Business. An outdoor enthusiast and snowboard fanatic, Katie is a recent graduate of Gonzaga University.  

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