Harborview operates at almost 100% capacity daily


King County Prop 1 would provide vital health and safety improvements to meet community needs

KING COUNTY – Harborview Medical Center operates at near capacity, potentially impacting operations and its response during significant medical incidents or widespread emergencies, according to a 2020 report.  

The report, issued earlier this year by the Harborview Leadership Group that included officials from the University of Washington, Harborview Medical Center, King County and community stakeholders, assessed the capacity and needs of the county’s public hospital. The report looked at demands on Harborview Medical Center’s emergency department, clinical care, behavioral health services, infrastructure, and facilities. The report found that critical improvements are needed to ensure that the state’s only Level 1 adult and pediatric trauma and burn center can meet increasing demands as the Puget Sound region continues to experience growth, concluding that a $1.74 billion capital improvement bond for essential facility improvements is necessary. 

“Our community relies on Harborview Medical Center to provide top-tier care in times of health emergency and medical crises,” said Annika Garman, a Harborview Medical Center registered dietician nutritionist. “King County Prop 1 will ensure that Harborview continues to deliver life-saving care for our friends, family, neighbors and community.”

Virtually 100% of Harborview Medical Center’s patient rooms are occupied on any given day. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the situation due to the need for patient isolation and infection control procedures.

Bond funding would provide for necessary investments that increase capacity and enable Harborview to adhere to modern privacy and infection control standards by replacing existing double patient rooms with 360 single-patient rooms. It also would create space for 150 respite beds for homeless or unstably housed patients who no longer require acute medical care. The emergency department also would be expanded and modernized through bond funding, supporting the high level of patient care.

Funding from the passage of King County Prop 1 would provide for essential seismic upgrades at older Harborview facilities like Harborview Hall, the Center Tower and the Pioneer Square Clinic. Historic Harborview Hall and the Center Tower were constructed in the 1930s and do not comply with modern building codes.

“It’s not a matter of if, but when the Puget Sound region will experience a major earthquake,” said Dr. Mark Snowden, Harborview Medical Center Chief of Psychiatry. “Without these upgrades, these buildings not only pose a significant life-safety risk to patients, health care providers and visitors, but it likely will impact Harborview’s ability to offer medical care during a large-scale natural disaster.”

Bond-funded investments include construction of a new medical tower with 360 single-patient rooms, seismic upgrades, an expanded emergency department, space for expanded behavioral health services and programs, 150 respite beds, and renovations to existing hospital spaces such as the lab, gamma knife, the Medical Examiner’s Office,  and King County’s Involuntary Treatment Court.  

The Harborview bond measure has been endorsed by King County Executive Dow Constantine, the MLK Labor Council, nurses, doctors, Southwest Youth and Family Services, North Helpline, Bellevue Chamber of Commerce, Seattle Chamber of Commerce, and civic organizations and elected officials throughout King County.

King County Prop 1 will appear on the November 3rd general election ballot.

About Harborview Medical Center

Harborview is a 413-licensed bed hospital owned by the people of King County and operated by UW Medicine. HMC provides a range of critical medical and behavioral health services, including state-of-the art emergency medical services, regional burn center, infectious disease, rehab therapy and surgery. HMC is the only Level 1 Trauma Center serving, Washington, Alaska, Idaho and Montana.