By Jack Mayne
Reporting for West Seattle Blog
West Seattle residents and civic leaders met Wednesday to discuss what would happen if an earthquake or other disaster cut off the community from the rest of Seattle and its hospitals and other emergency facilities – considering there’s been no hospital here for some 20 years.
The “Hospital Without Walls” meeting at Delridge Community Center was sponsored by Senior Services of Seattle/King County, the non-profit that runs several area senior centers and other senior services.
The biggest concern expressed in the fact-gathering session was the lack of a hospital or an emergency care facility and the unlikelihood that a new hospital could or would be built here.
Swedish operates a West Seattle walk-in care facility but no beds to handle injured persons. A facility in The Junction operated by Highline Medical Center of Burien was closed a few years ago and a Group Health facility was closed, said some of the 21 people who attended the session, which was moderated by former city Department of Neighborhoods director Jim Diers and Joanne Donohue, vice president of Senior Services.
Some noted that the recent icy weather demonstrated that both West Seattle bridges could be closed at the same time, virtually cutting off 100,000 people from timely access to major downtown hospitals and other care facilities.
“The nearest hospital is Highline in Burien, but there are several hills and there is no fast route to it from West Seattle,” said one member of the audience. Others noted there was an outpatient facility operated by Highline in White Center.
The group decided it would be critical to have a listing of all possible services, and of where people should go or to call for information. The West Seattle Be Prepared resource came up (honored last weekend with a West Seattle Volunteer Recognition Award) – that includes the local Emergency Communication Hubs.
The group plans to meet again, and other meetings on community problems will be sponsored by Senior Services, said Joanne Donohue.