Triad entry may affect RiverBend review.
SPRINGFIELD - When the City Council begins formal discussions on PeaceHealth's proposed RiverBend regional medical complex two weeks from today, it may take into consideration McKenzie-Willamette Hospital's new partnership with a national hospital chain.
Or it may not.
City Attorney Joe Leahy said Monday the council must base its review of the PeaceHealth proposal on whether the project is consistent with statewide planning goals, laws and the Eugene-Springfield Metropolitan Plan.
Beyond that, Leahy said, it will be the council's prerogative to say whether McKenzie-Willamette's partnership with Texas-based Triad Hospitals Inc. has any relevance to PeaceHealth's plan to build a $350 million medical campus in the Gateway area of northwest Springfield.
City planner Colin Stephens said Monday that while the McKenzie-Willamette partnership doesn't appear relevant to the council's review of the PeaceHealth project, he wouldn't completely dismiss the idea.
Assuming there's public testimony Feb. 18 regarding McKenzie-Willamette's link-up with Triad, it will be up to the council and city staff to determine whether it's relevant, Stephens said.
The council is expected to approve or deny the project by the end of March.
Last week's announcement of the Triad-McKenzie-Willamette partnership largely ended speculation that PeaceHealth's move into Springfield would put the smaller hospital out of business.
Triad officials have promised to build a new $80 million hospital for McKenzie-Willamette, although they've said it's doubtful it will be built on the hospital's current site downtown.
One group opposed to PeaceHealth's RiverBend project wants the City Council to reject it, thinking Triad would then consider keeping McKenzie-Willamette in Springfield.
The community hospital's long-standing ties with Springfield "are the key - not whether it stays in business," said Jan Wilson, coordinator of CHOICES, the Coalition for Health Options In Central Eugene-Springfield.
"If they approve PeaceHealth at RiverBend they lose McKenzie-Willamette; they lose 50 years of investment by the Springfield community," Wilson said.
If PeaceHealth relocates its health care hub from Sacred Heart Medical Center near downtown Eugene to the urban fringe in Springfield, and McKenzie-Willamette rebuilds in Eugene, the Eugene-Springfield area will have "swapped" hospitals at a cost in the hundreds of millions of dollars, said Rob Zako, also of CHOICES.
Meanwhile, spokesman Brian Terrett said the McKenzie-Willamette partnership with Triad won't affect PeaceHealth's plans for the RiverBend complex alongside the McKenzie River.
Terrett said PeaceHealth doesn't think in such boundary-specific terms and has no intention of changing its plans for a RiverBend medical center because Triad may replace McKenzie-Willamette with a new hospital in Eugene.
"We don't see a Eugene market and a Springfield market," he said. "It's much more of a regional, community view."
The Springfield City Council will hold a public hearing from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Feb. 18 in the Council Chamber, City Hall, 225 Fifth St.
Those who wish to speak can sign up at the hearing site beginning at 6 p.m. the day of the meeting. Public testimony will follow in the order of those signed up. Staff will not sign up those who call in and request it.
The public hearing will be continued to Feb. 19 if necessary. For more information, call Colin Stephens, city planner, at 726-3649.
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|Title Annotation:||City Council may consider McKenzie-Willamette's new partner in hospital decision; Health|
|Publication:||The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)|
|Date:||Feb 4, 2003|
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