Seattle Children's offers preview of new Bellevue clinic

Slideshow: (All photos courtesy of Paul Dudley Photography except numbers four and five, shot by Joshua Adam Hicks)

Seattle Children's offered a sneak peak Tuesday of its new Eastside health clinic, located on the 1500 block of 116th Ave. NE in Bellevue's Hospital District.

The $75 million facility opens July 20, providing check-ups and services for kids with minor problems such as ear infections, broken bones, and hernias.

The new two-story clinic allows Children's to shift a portion of its out-patient operations to Bellevue while still providing in-patient care at the older Seattle campus. It also helps to separate seriously ill patients from those who are generally healthy.

"It can be hard to celebrate a simple ear-tube operation with your kid when there's someone critically ill right next to you," said Paula Holmes, director of the new clinic.

The Bellevue facility houses 15 pediatric specialites, as well as urgent care, radiology, a surgery center, a sports therapy gym, a pharmacy, a Starbucks, and a playroom for waiting siblings. The campus also includes two levels of underground parking.

Many spaces in the 80,000-square-foot clinic allow for flexible uses. The cardiology department, for instance, doubles as an urgent care center during evenings.

The hours for urgent care will be 5 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. on weekdays and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekends and holidays.

Planners were meticulous in the design of the new building, according to Children's vice president of facilities Todd Johnson.

"We really worked hard on the way things flow so patients wouldn't be dealing with that spaghetti effect as they move around," Johnson said.

The building layout also separates "scary sides from non-scary sides," according to Holmes. That means the operating rooms are not visible from the induction rooms, where children go to sleep before operations.

Everything at the new clinic is designed with kids in mind. The walls are painted with bright colors, and each door is adorned with depictions of Northwest flora and fauna.

The pre-surgery experience at Children's is designed to put kids at ease. Younger patients can breathe flavored gas and gaze up at twinkling ceiling lights while staff members explain their procedures in fairy-tale terms.

The clinic's sports gym is designed to turn mundane physical therapy into a form of play.

"Kids don't just want to do reps on a machine," said Laura Crooks, director of rehab services at the Bellevue clinic.

The gym includes an adjustable basketball hoop and a partial court.

The clinic also incorporates environmentally friendly features, like natural rubber floors in the physical-therapy room, cork floors in other areas, natural lighting, green rooftops, and an outdoor "healing garden."

The building achieved LEED Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.

The Bellevue clinic provides room for 65 new staff positions with Children's. Some existing employees will rotate between the Seattle and Bellevue campuses, while others will simply transfer to Bellevue.

"Many of our staff live on the Eastside, but historically worked in Seattle," Holmes said. "Those people are very excited now."

Parent William Pranzini says the new clinic will be convenient for him as well. The Kirkland resident has been making regular trips to the Children's hospital in Seattle so doctors can monitor his son, who had a small tumor removed from his back last year.

"It'll be nice to finally be out here so close," he said.

Parents will have the freedom to choose which clinic to visit for the services offered at both campuses.

Children's has enough room at the Bellevue site to build another facility equal in size to the new clinic.

The organization has leased 12 exam rooms at Bellevue's Overlake Medical Tower for over a decade. Only the sleep-disorder and behavioral-health services divisions will remain there once the new building opens in July.

Among the dignitaries attending the open house on Tuesday were Bellevue Mayor Grant Degginger and Rep. Marcie Maxwell.

"There's a huge need for this on the Eastside," Maxwell said. "We have a lot of young families, and this is a huge asset for those families."

Maxwell also noted that Rep. Deb Eddy was instrumental in setting aside $2 million in the state's capital budget to help pay for the clinic.

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