Pullman Regional Hospital asks voters to back $29 million bond

This rendering shows Pullman Regional Hospital's proposed 45,000-square-foot pavilion that will be built as part of its $40 million Next Era of Excellence project. The project hinges on passage of a $29 million bond by voters.

A $29 million bond to fund upgrades at Pullman Regional Hospital is still short of the total number of votes needed to pass, according to voting results Tuesday.

PRH, for the second time this year, asked voters to support Proposition 1, a bond to fund a 45,000-square-foot facility expansion and a new electronic medical record system. The expansion would include space for a residency program.

The measure was approved by 59.7 percent of voters whose ballots were counted Tuesday, slightly less than the 60 percent needed to pass. Only 1,077 total votes have been counted, and the measure needs at least 3,745 ballots cast to be valid.

According to the Whitman County elections website, there is an estimated 4,056 ballots in Whitman County left to be counted. Another ballot count will take place this afternoon. It does not indicate how many of those are residents in the hospital’s district.

PRH spokeswoman Megan Guido said the hospital is hopeful those minimum requirements will be met.

“It’s consistent with what we heard that folks are supportive of the measure, but it remains to be seen whether we’re going to reach that threshold,” she said.

The facilities expansion would provide more space for specialists on the hospital campus. The hospital also wants to host a residency program with 12 spots in cooperation with Washington State University’s Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine in Spokane. Backers believe the program would ease a physician shortage on the Palouse.

The new electronic medical record system, EPIC, is used by more than 50 percent of hospitals in Washington. The changeover is expected to cut down on paperwork for patients who visit multiple providers and make it easier for physicians to keep track of a patient’s records.

The bond will raise taxes to 99 cents per $1,000 of assessed value.

A similar PRH proposition in the spring drew a majority of yes votes, but not enough ballots were turned in to meet the minimum threshold.

Only the ballots that include either a yes or no selection for Proposition 1 were included in determining whether the minimum number of votes is met.

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

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