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Bishop, representatives break ground at Gig Harbor hospital

A virtual Who’s Who list for South Kitsap on Thursday joined the Catholic clergy in blessing and dedicating construction of a new 80-bed hospital in Gig Harbor.

Archbishop Alexander Brunett, from the Archdiocese of Seattle, led worship and prayer before he and a line of hospital supporters, including Kitsap County Commissioner Jan Angel, Sen. Derek Kilmer (D-Gig Harbor) Rep. Pat Lantz (D-Gig Harbor), Rep. Larry Seaquist (D-Gig Harbor) and former Sen. Bob Oke of Port Orchard broke ground inside the current St. Anthony office building.

The soil came from the construction site, was sprinkled with holy water by Archbishop, and will be returned to the site.

“This hospital is going to save lives, and we have reason to celebrate today,” Sen. Kilmer told the crowd.

The bishop said the medical work of the Franciscan Health System is an extension of Catholic doctrine. He said faith is more than gathering for Sunday services, and commended the Franciscan Sisters, who “have tried to live that message.”

“We believe all of our work is inspired by our faith,” Brunett said, and quoting a psalm, he added, “If the Lord does not build the house, in vain do the workers labor.”

The hospital will serve the Gig Harbor area, much of Pierce County and South Kitsap. Previously, residents would travel into Tacoma, or farther, for medical care.

Angel said the hospital fills an important need, which she saw clearly when she drove her daughter, who had gone into labor, to Tacoma through rush-hour traffic.

“If we had a bad earthquake, the south end would have a real hard time getting to Harrison (Hospital),” Angel said. “I think it’s certainly time.”

Construction on the 80-bed facility began before the groundbreaking and will be complete early 2009.

The hospital will offer 24-hour emergency service, in-patient and out-patient services, a heart catheterization laboratory and other medical services.

The hospital will have approximately 217,00 square feet of space. A sky bridge will connect the hospital to the already-built medical office. The medical office will have about 80,000 square feet of space for doctors’ offices and outpatient services.

The project will cost approximately $135 million, and is paid for by the Franciscan Health System and its parent organization, Catholic Health Initiatives.

St. Anthony joins several other hospitals and medical facilities within the Franciscan Health System, including St. Joseph Medical Center in Tacoma, St. Clare Hospital in Lakewood, St. Francis Hospital in Federal Way, the Franciscan Hospice House and 35 medical clinics.

The Franciscan Health system applied to the Washington State Department of Health for a 112-bed hospital in 2003, but received approval for an 80-bed facility in 2004.

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