Whidbey General Hospital gives bond second go

For the second time, Whidbey General Hospital leaders are sending the same bond proposal to the voters.

Hospital officials are asking voters to approve a $50 million bond that would fund an expansion of Whidbey General Hospital’s Coupeville campus that opened in 1970.

The bond proposal previously went before voters in 2011. Back then, 55.49 percent of the voters supported the bond, but it fell short of the 60 percent supermajority needed for approval.

Hospital spokeswoman Trish Rose said in an email that the estimate for the project was originally determined by commercial construction estimator Robinson and Co. and it was recently verified by Mahlum Architects.

If approved, the bond would pay for construction of a new wing that would include 39 single-patient rooms. The bonds would be paid off in 25 years and cost a property owner 32.2 cents per $1,000 assessed property value. It would cost an owner of a $250,000 home on Whidbey Island around $81 a year.

In addition to the 39 in-patient rooms, plans call for transforming the current patient wing into clinic space and installing a new parking lot that will replace the one lost through construction of the new wing.

Rose said the final architectural plans don’t exist yet. Such documents are normally costly and are typically created after a bond is approved.

The 31,000-square-foot wing would provide single-patient rooms for medical/surgical care, observation of patients, the birth center and intensive care unit, Rose said. The shelled-in space slated for future use would be located underneath the patient room.

A volunteer group, Friends of Whidbey General Hospital, formed last summer and has worked to promote the bond to residents. Volunteers have been plastering signs throughout Whidbey Island and hospital officials have visited community groups informing residents about the project’s details.

Ballots were sent to voters last month. As of Monday afternoon, the Island County Auditor’s Office had received just over 9,000 ballots. Voters have until Tuesday, Nov. 5 to mail their ballots or drop them in one of three boxes located on Whidbey.