When Kadlec opened its doors in 1944, the hospital was established to care for the Hanford area workers and their families. See how we have grown since then.

The early years

It was the early 1940s. Across two oceans wars were going on, and as a part of the war effort, the United States Army purchased 640 square miles north of a quiet village called Richland in the state of Washington. The site would become the secret, government-run Hanford portion of the Manhattan Project, and its workers would labor around the clock to help bring an end to those wars.

Prior to the Hanford build-up, the Richland Village had a population of less than 1,000. By December 1944, its population had exploded to 11,760 and by March 1945, that number had grown to 15,401, including 4,800 children. In addition, an estimated 50,000 people lived, at its peak, in temporary quarters at Camp Hanford.

The government was responsible to meet the needs of these workers and their families including medical care ranging from emergencies to dentistry. Because of its isolated location and potentially hazardous operations, the need for a hospital was even greater. The first medical facility was established in an existing farmhouse at Hanford. In June 1943, the first aid equipment and staff were moved to one of the women’s barracks creating a 10-bed treatment area.

Construction of a medical facility began in January 1944 and opened seven months later. The one-story, 55,000-square feet building was located on the site of the Corrado Medical Building. It was a traditional army facility, with a central hall and wings expanding off the hall.

The hospital had 91 rooms that could hold 115 patients. There was no room for outpatient care, dental care and other services so a Medical-Dental building was built and two houses provided 20 isolation beds. The bed-to-population-ratio was over 5/1000 (higher than the national average due to unknown industrial needs at Hanford and the high percentage of dormitory-housed workers).

When it opened, the personnel consisted of the superintendent, assistant superintendent, two doctors and a part-time surgeon, five nurses and a pharmacist. All medical services were expected to be met by this force including employee physicals, dentistry and public health -- water quality, environmental health and preventive care. Medical care was practically on an emergency-only basis. The burgeoning population necessitated an increase in the staff quickly; by July 1945, the hospital employees totaled 117.

Enlargement of the maternity wing (originally one delivery room, six beds and six bassinets) began even before the hospital opened, adding 22 bassinets and 30 cribs. Richland led the nation in 1946 with 35 births per 1,000 compared to a national average of 20 births per 1,000. This high birth rate is attributed to the large number of employees being in the 20 to 30 age group and, as one report from the time states, "...the Security program of the plant dampened social activities, which perhaps served to encourage more pregnancy." The actual number of babies born was a military secret because of a concern that Germany and Japan would be given a clue to the size of the Hanford workforce.

The hospital was a closed facility providing services only for Hanford workers, their families and other citizens within the government-controlled boundaries of Richland. During the first year, it served 3,153 patients.

One of its first patients was Lt. Col. Harry R. Kadlec, Deputy Area Engineer and Chief of the Construction for the Army Corps of Engineers at Hanford and a key figure in the operation of the project. Col. Kadlec was said to have worked himself to death, suffering a heart attack on July 2, 1944 and subsequently died at the hospital -- the first death in the new facility. On July 10, 1944, the Richland Hospital was renamed Kadlec Hospital.

In the early years, it was difficult to obtain all of the essentials to equip the hospital. The Auxiliary stepped in to help, sewing and repairing linens and creating other items used in the hospital.

Major changes

In 1956, Kadlec was the first hospital to be removed from the control of the Atomic Energy Commission and turned over to citizens to be self-governing. Richland voters selected the Methodist Board of Hospitals and Homes to own and operate the hospital. It was renamed Kadlec Methodist Hospital. The hospital was opened to all area residents regardless of whether they worked in Richland or were employed at Hanford.

At the time, Kadlec was the only hospital in the state of Washington, and only one of few in the country, which began as a government medical facility and was turned back to the citizens to be operated as a not-for-profit institution.  

A second major transition for the hospital happened in 1969. Kadlec had outgrown its original facility. Government funds were available to go toward the construction of a new building, but they could not be used for a religious-affiliated organization. The Board of Trustees of Kadlec Methodist Hospital turned the hospital over to a new non-profit corporation. A community-wide fund raising drive was mounted, which raised $1 million. Mrs. Harry Kadlec, widow of Lt. Col. Harry Kadlec, returned to Richland to help with the fund raising.

Construction of the new building (the current 4-story section of Kadlec) was finished in 1971 with "Moving Day" on April 7, 1971 — all patients and employees were transferred to the new 136-bed Kadlec Hospital.

Growing facilities to meet care demands

In the 1980s and 1990s, Kadlec continued to grow and expand, to meet the needs of a growing region. In 1981, Senator Henry M. Jackson helped break ground for another expansion project. Phase I of the project included a whole-body CT scanner, a heart catheterization lab, a new Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and state-of-the-art Intensive Care Unit for coronary and trauma patients.

In 1987, Same Day Surgery was added, and in 1991, the MRI facility began operation. Kadlec partnered with a group of physicians to build the Tri-City Regional Surgery Center, an outpatient surgery center. Adjacent to the Kadlec campus, the Corrado Medical Building and Richland Medical Center were built adding space for physicians. In 1996, the Leslie Gage Health Center in South Richland was built to meet the growing demand for services in that area of the community.

Adding critical services

Increasing services, larger patient volumes and a growing region brought Kadlec’s need to expand during the 2000s to the forefront. When the four-story building was constructed in 1969, fewer than 300 people were working at Kadlec. By 2000, that number had grown to more than 700.

In early 2000, Kadlec announced a 85-000 square foot expansion/remodel to include a new Intensive Care Unit (doubling in size), a Short Stay Unit, a new Emergency Department, 19 new private patient rooms, a support services building, a new main entrance and lobby, and a sixth operating room. The project was completed in 2002.

Cardiac care begins at Kadlec

A significant step in care for the region began in 2001 with the start of open heart surgery services at Kadlec. In addition to surgery, heart care included diagnostic cardiac catheterization, interventional cardiology including stents and angioplasty, and rehabilitation. A second cath lab was opened in 2002 and a third in 2005, which also included an MRI suite.

The need for speed in diagnosing and treating a heart attack led Kadlec to create a Chest Pain Center—the first nationally accredited chest pain center in the Northwest. It brought together the skills and resources of the area’s emergency personnel in the field, Kadlec’s Emergency Department, its heart care team and its hospitalists. The Chest Pain Center has been reaccredited every three years since 2004 achieving higher standards of care with each cycle. The Kadlec Chest Pain Center is also PCI certified with the emergency ability to treat acute cardiac events using balloon angioplasty, and the only hospital in the area able to perform open heart surgery.

Health care took another step forward with the opening of a new all-digital Outpatient Imaging Center across from the Kadlec campus in 2002. The comprehensive center is equipped with advanced imaging technology providing physicians sophisticated tools to diagnose and treat disease, and offers patients numerous imaging services in one location including CT/PET, MRI, mammography, ultrasound, CT, DEXA and digital radiography.

Other areas of growth

At the Outpatient Imaging Center, an Advanced Breast Care Center was created, which offers a combination of prompt care, the most sophisticated breast imaging equipment and clinical expertise. Services include 3D digital mammography, breast ultrasound, breast MRI, ultrasound-guided needle biopsy, stereotactic core biopsy and a Patient Information Library.

In 2002, Kadlec also introduced a new medical specialty to the Tri-Cities with the addition of two full-time intensivists, offering 24/7 physician coverage for patients in the Intensive Care Unit. In 2003, adult hospitalists were added to the medical floors and in 2006, pediatric hospitalists were added to the pediatric floor, again the first to do so in the region. Hospitalists specialize in around-the-clock care for hospitalized patients.

The Garden, offering a beautiful space for quiet meditation and reflection opened in the early 2000s. Located off the Vineyard Lobby of the hospital, it features private places to sit, a water feature and beautiful landscaping.

Kadlec added genetic counseling services in 2005.

Between 2000 and 2005, Kadlec’s admissions were up 60 percent, outpatient visits doubled and inpatients from outside Benton and Franklin Counties more than doubled.

The opening of Columbia Basin College’s $13.2 million Health Science Center in Richland was celebrated in 2006 allowing CBC to nearly double the size of its nursing program and build up programs including surgery technicians and radiological sciences. Kadlec donated $2 million toward the project.

Also in 2006, Kadlec announced its partnership with Seattle Children’s Hospital to help strengthen care for the region’s pediatric patients. In 2007, the collaboration was expanded to include the NICU.

Kadlec formalized its mission to deliver compassionate care to patients and families by becoming a member of the Planetree Alliance, an international organization that helps hospitals create patient-centered care in a healing environment. Planetree’s approach encourages healing in all dimensions— mental, emotional, spiritual and social as well as physical. It seeks to maximize health care outcomes by integrating optimal medical therapies.

Another major expansion begins

Ground was broken in 2006 for Kadlec’s River Pavilion. The $70-plus million, six-story project included a 36-bed Clinic Decision Unit, 10 new operating rooms plus a Post-Anesthesia Care Unit, a 28-bed Intermediate Care Unit and more. It was built with the flexibility to go as high as 10-stories as demand dictates.

Even before the new building was occupied, a fund raising campaign was undertaken by Kadlec Foundation to build a pediatric center on the River Pavilion’s fifth floor. Over $7 million was raised within the community create the Don & Lori Watts Pediatric Center, which opened in 2009.

System growth

To meet the ever-growing need for physicians, Kadlec Clinic was created. It includes physicians offering primary and specialty care located throughout the community. By 2009, Kadlec Clinic included 12 locations and over 50 providers. As a part of Kadlec Health System, one of Kadlec Clinic’s strengths is the ability to communicate between doctors, clinics and with Kadlec Regional Medical Center, creating important collaborative and coordinated care patients.

Kadlec Neuroscience Center was created in 2008 to bring a comprehensive team of neurosurgeons, neurologists, pain management specialists, and physiatrists to the region. The extensive experience and subspecialty training of the physicians provides a wide range of services to treat and diagnose conditions related to the brain, spine, spinal cord, and peripheral nervous system.

In 2010, the state of Washington approved an expansion of Kadlec’s NICU, from 10 to 27, 15 of which are Level III, allowing it to treat most critically ill babies, then one of only four hospitals in the state with this designation. The state’s approval paved the way for the planning for a new NICU. Fund raising for the new $10-million, 15,000 square foot NICU was led by Kadlec Foundation and construction kicked off in 2013; the new NICU opened in the fall of 2014.

In 2011, cardiac, stroke and emergency care received important designations, reflecting the high level of care provided to patients at Kadlec.

Kadlec’s electronic health records system underwent a major renovation in 2012, improving access and communication for patients and providers. The system connects primary and specialty clinics, outpatient services and the medical center.

In 2012, a three-pronged project was completed, which created an easier connection between sections of the hospitals, expanded the hospital’s diagnostic imaging and interventional radiology capabilities and renovated the Orchard Lobby.

2013 was marked by the opening of three new facilities. The first was the Emergency Room-Kennewick, the first freestanding ER in the region. The 1100 Goethals Building near the Kadlec campus opened in the fall of 2013 and became the home to more than 15 Kadlec specialties. In late 2013, Kadlec Urgent Care opened in Kennewick.

Kadlec introduced a new concept in outpatient care with the opening of its Healthplex in in 2014. It is the home to over 20 outpatient services and programs. The 50,000 square-foot facility located in Richland also includes a health library, meeting space, a demonstration kitchen, indoor and outdoor walking paths and a retail shop with difficult-to-find specialty medical equipment.

Also in 2014, Kadlec announced its accreditation by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education for a new Family Medicine Residency Program. The first class of six residents was announced in the spring of 2015, with the program getting underway that summer. The program will add six residents a year to the three-year program.

In 2014, Kadlec was recognized as a Top Performer on Key Quality Measures by The Joint Commission. Kadlec was one of 17 hospitals in the state to receive this distinction, and one of nine in the four core measures of heart attack, heart failure, pneumonia and surgical care. Kadlec was also the first hospital in the area to receive The Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval for hip and knee replacement.

Providence affiliation

During 2014, Kadlec celebrated its 70th anniversary, reflecting on how it changed the lives of so many it has served through the years. But, 2014 was also a year Kadlec looked forward with the announcement of its affiliation with the not-for-profit health system Providence Health & Services. The Providence affiliation brought important support to Kadlec as it continues to meet the growing medical needs of the region. It also helped jump-start projects including:

  • Construction of the final four-story of the River Pavilion, which includes a new Intensive Care Unit and additional patient rooms
  • Construction of the long-awaited 600-space parking garage on the Kadlec campus
  • Construction of a dedicated electrophysiology lab to support Kadlec’s growing cardiac services
  • Commitment of $3 million to Columbia Basin College for a second health science center

Kadlec’s affiliation with Providence also allowed Kadlec and Washington State University Tri-Cities to team together to improve the future of health care in the region with the establishment of an $18-million endowment through Kadlec Foundation. Earnings on the endowment will fund five doctoral facility positions at WSU Tri-Cities to increase the number of nurses earning a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree in the region.

In 2015 Kadlec reached 3,000 employees, becoming the second largest employer in the Tri-Cities area. For the fourth year in a row, it was awarded a Grade A in hospital safety for delivering outstanding results in patient safety by The Leapfrog Group. Kadlec also received the Tri-City Herald’s People’s Choice awards in two important categories: Best Hospital and Best Company to Work For.

By early 2015, Kadlec Clinic had grown to 26 sites located in six communities and offering care in over 20 specialties.

Patients and visitor parking got a lot easier the summer of 2016 with the opening of the five-deck, $15.2 million garage. The parking garage provides nearly 660 parking stalls and is located just across from the main entrance to the medical center.

Beginning in late 2016, the four-floor expansion of the River Pavilion began a phased opening. The new floors added 94 patient rooms, which allowed every patient at Kadlec to have a single, private room. It also expanded the Intensive Care Unit by 20 patient rooms. The River Pavilion Tower is the tallest building in the Tri-Cities. Both projects were made possible significantly ahead of schedule with the affiliation with Providence Health and Services.

With the help of a fundraising effort led by a team of Kadlec caregivers and Kadlec Foundation, The Terrace on the 7th Floor was added to the pavilion to give patients, families and staff an outdoor space with spectacular views for respite and renewal.

Off-campus facility expansion in 2016 included the opening of a clinic at 9040 W. Clearwater Avenue in Kennewick. The new hybrid facility houses both West Kennewick Primary Care and a separate Urgent Care clinic. Also in Kennewick, Kadlec expanded its care to patients 65 years old and older with the opening of Kadlec Clinic Senior - East Kennewick.

Kadlec introduced two new services to give patients more options to address urgent care needs. Two Express Care Clinics opened offering same-day care every day, with extended hours. The second service, called Express Care Virtual, provides care via secure video technology; patients are able to download an app, choose from a list of available health care providers and the appointment begins right away.