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Children's Views Hearing Examiner Denial as Unreasonable

August 12, 2009

Today Seattle’s Hearing Examiner recommended in a 37-page report that the City Council should deny the proposed Major Institutions Master Plan to expand Children’s Hospital in their current Laurelhurst community.

Today Seattle’s Hearing Examiner recommended in a 37-page report that the City Council should deny the proposed Major Institutions Master Plan to expand Children’s Hospital in their current Laurelhurst community.

The Hearing Examiner’s findings are at odds with the Citizen’s Advisory Committee and the director of the Department of Planning and Development (DPD) who both recommended approval of the Master Plan and testified to its merits at two Hearing Examiner proceedings.

“We are surprised and concerned by the Hearing Examiner’s findings,” said Dr. Thomas Hansen, CEO at Seattle Children’s Hospital. “With all due respect, we feel the Examiner’s decision is just plain wrong. We are confident that the City Council will recognize the strength of our proposal and approve it.”

“Without this expansion we are compromising access to immediate, quality care for the children in our region who need it most,” added Hansen.

“In the last three weeks we have been near capacity with few beds available and we haven’t even hit flu season yet or the anticipated demands that will come from swine flu,” said Hansen. “This is a serious situation and it puts our region’s children in a vulnerable position.”

Based on the Findings and Recommendation report, Examiner Sue Tanner was favorable on many conclusions. Yet she recommended against approval of the Master Plan based on what she described as “balancing” issues. These issues included the expansion not happening within an urban village and the projected traffic impact.

“Our position and rationale for expansion has not changed,” said Hansen. “We feel we have gone above and beyond what is required in meeting neighborhood concerns and addressing both traffic and housing impacts. From a legal standpoint, we do not believe the City’s code is in conflict with our expansion plan.”

Children’s opened its Laurelhurst campus in 1953 and has worked closely with their neighbors over the years to minimize the impact of the hospital’s growth.

“We have tirelessly dedicated ourselves to minimizing the impact on our neighbors,” said Hansen. “We have significantly revised our master plan several times to address neighbors’ concerns and to minimize future housing impacts and traffic congestion.”

“We plan to immediately appeal the recommendation to the City Council,” said Hansen. “If we are unable to obtain a favorable decision on our Master Plan in a timely manner we will need to consider other options that would be extremely regrettable, including a gradual relocation of our hospital facilities - including our downtown research campus - to a single site outside the city of Seattle.”

About Seattle Children's Hospital

Consistently ranked as one of the best children’s hospitals in the country by U.S. News & World Report, Children’s serves as the pediatric and adolescent academic medical referral center for the largest landmass of any children’s hospital in the country (Washington, Alaska, Montana and Idaho). For more than 100 years, Children’s has been delivering superior patient care and advancing new treatments through pediatric research. Children’s serves as the primary teaching, clinical and research site for the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Washington School of Medicine. The hospital works in partnership with Seattle Children’s Research Institute and Seattle Children’s Hospital Foundation. For more information, visit http://www.seattlechildrens.org.

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