The Pullman Regional Hospital Board of Commissioners on Wednesday unanimously gave their approval for the hospital to place a $29 million tax bond on the ballot that would help fund a 45,000-square-foot pavilion adjacent to the hospital.

The hospital has set a goal to have the 25-year bond on the April 23 special election ballot. In October, CEO Scott Adams told the Daily News the levy rate would be equal to the current PRH bond Pullman residents have been paying off since 2001. It is set to expire in 2020. In 2001, it was 99 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value. Today, that levy rate is approximately 33 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value, according to the PRH website.

Commissioner Joe Pitzer said the hospital has been building toward this since it moved from the Washington State University campus and opened the doors of its current location in 2004.

"This was part of the plan all along," Pitzer said.

As part of its $40 million "New Era of Excellence" project, the pavilion is supposed to help the hospital become a one-stop care facility and would potentially house a women and children's health center, expanded diagnostic and therapeutic services, a medical residency program and more physicians offices.

The plan also calls for an $8 million to $10 million community-wide electronic medical record that connects hospitals and medical offices around the region. A PRH community survey showed patients are frustrated with hospitals and clinics using different computer systems to keep patients' records.

In addition to the bond, $11 million of the project will be paid through philanthropy and hospital funds.

Commissioner Margaret Werre said she appreciated the progressive nature of the project.

"If you don't keep up with changes in medicine, 10 years down the road, you might not exist," she said.

The hospital administration believes the project is necessary to keep up with demand. Outpatient visits at PRH have increased 21 percent over the past five years and are expected to rise another 23 percent over the next seven years, according to the hospital's website.

If passed, the hospital would break ground on the project in 2020 with the goal of completing it in 2021.

"If the community agrees with our proposal," Adams said, "we'll be able to create something special."


Anthony Kuipers can be reached at (208) 883-4640, or by email to akuipers@dnews.com.

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