Last public emergency room in Bremerton closed for good
A year after the St. Michael Medical Center emergency department in Bremerton closed its doors, KIRO Newsradio has learned from hospital management that the facility will remain that way for good.
This change means that the Silverdale St. Michael Medical Center will be the only ER and hospital in Kitsap County, other than the military hospital located on Naval Station Bremerton.
The ER in Bremerton closed in summer 2021 at the height of the pandemic, when staffing shortages forced hospital management to combine forces under one roof at the larger Silverdale St. Michael Medical Center.
“It did not make sense to duplicate resources at two separate locations,” said St. Michael President Chad Melton. “So we consolidated here to the Silverdale campus.”
At that point, parent company Virginia Mason Franciscan Health did not give an estimated date for reopening.
In May of this year, hospital management decided to keep the Bremerton site closed permanently.
“We have no plans to reopen that location,” Melton said.
Like hospitals around the state and the country, St. Michael’s is dealing with staffing shortages, and Melton said it still is working out a way to maximize everyone at one location.
“The one area in which we continue to have staffing challenges is around the emergency department … the critical care areas are typically the most difficult to recruit into,” Melton said, explaining that the higher level of training required for these positions makes hiring a little tougher.
The plan now is to raze the Bremerton St. Michael’s building to the ground. Melton said demolition should begin by the end of the year, and take up to two years to complete. After that, the property will be sold.
The Bremerton facility’s 74 beds will be moved to the Silverdale St. Michael Medical Center.
Melton said they hope to be able to offer people in Bremerton another option next year at some point.
“We’re working on a plan right now to open up a hybrid emergency department/urgent care in Bremerton that supports our community there, and then looking at expansion opportunities here at the Silverdale campus,” Melton said.
The State Department of Health is investigating St. Michael’s after a cyberattack forced the hospital to take its electronic records system down for a couple of weeks earlier this month. Melton could not say how many people had to have medical appointments rescheduled during that time, but he said everything is up and running again smoothly.
“We have resumed our full operating room and imaging schedules. I’m just glad to say that we are back doing our normal course of business,” Melton said.