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THE HOME STRETCH
What with the IRS, Hill-Burton, Northgate, and serious fund-raising drives all going on at once, the board found it necessary to hire a professional administrator, and in April 1958, Joe Hiddleston came aboard. Along with Ruth McCloy and a Mrs. Solomon, secretary, Mr. Hiddleston kept the association moving toward its goal. Roy Rambeck and Phil Gillette, administrator and assistant administrator, respectively, of the new University of Washington Hospital, were retained as consultants to help the board select and purchase equipment. Rod McPhail was hired as "clerk of the works"
to oversee construction. In September, Mr. Hiddleston hired accountant Margaret Ann Smith (Peggy Miller), who is considered the hospital's first full-time employee and who stayed with Northwest until she retired in 1974.
By March of 1959, everything was in place: the hospital had $960,000 in Hill-Burton funds; the tax ruling was official, making $443,630 in cash available; $150,000 in pledges were on the books; and the association had applied for a $750,000 mortgage. (Eventually, the finance committee - Charles Easter, Joseph Muckley, John Hale, and Christian Johnson - negotiated a $600,000 mortgage with three equally participating banks: Washington Mutual, the lead bank; Seattle First; and National Bank of Commerce.)
Fund-raising continued, though, for contingencies and operating capital the hospital would need to pay salaries and expenses. The building committee, which now included Drs. Nelson and Koutsky and Harold Van Eaton, a businessman and former state director of general administration with responsibility for all state buildings, continued to meet with the architects to refine the plans.
On May 12, Dr. Lindsay Gould noted in his diary, "specifications and plans advertised - great day." The bids were opened on June 12, 1959 with the low bidder, Anderson Construction, released from his bid almost immediately because his estimator had left out $130,000 worth of concrete work. The contract was awarded to the George E. Teufel Company, and on June 30, Harry Givan and George Teufel signed a $1,532,972 construction contract.
Construction began on July 6, 1959. Ground-breaking ceremonies held on July 23 at 4:00 p.m. drew 150 people - a "small but very happy and enthusiastic group," Dr. Gould called them. On the dais were the original association incorporators; board officers; Mayor Clinton; clergymen from the Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish faiths; the King and Queen of Seafair; and Seafair Prime Minister George Carlson as master of ceremonies.
Dr. Gould had told the Washington Hospital Advisory Council in 1957 that "This hospital will have no frills. It will be solid, practical and serviceable. A building committee composed of lay members of the board has gone over the plans to make sure there are no 'blue sky' aspects."
The new Northwest Memorial Hospital would cost just a little more than $2 million to build and equip. (In 1990, said architect George Hazen, the same hospital would cost about $30 million.)
Mr. Hazen had squeezed every useful inch possible out of the building's 71,535 square feet. Hill-Burton administrators put "definite — very definite — limits as to the maximum number of gross square feet for the plan, based on the number of beds," he said, so that hospitals would keep the focus on patient care and not on "lavish" amenities that would deplete Hill-Burton funds to no good purpose. To the extent that walls and corridors took up space, they became luxuries.
And although that meant compromises in some areas, it also meant innovation. "The solution to any architectural problem is always, `make the building bigger'!" said Mr. Hazen. "It's an ingenious solution if you can meet the requirements and not make the building bigger."
One "ingenious" solution became a model for the state hospital code, he recalled: the workroom behind the nursery. "At that time there were [usually] individual workrooms behind each nursery," he said, "and we had one big combined one behind all of the nurseries, and the State thought that was pretty nice and they accepted that as an update innovation. We did it because it would save space, and at that point there was not money for lavish foyers and corridors, I'll tell you!"
The one-story frame building consisted of wings for obstetrics and maternity nursing; a surgical wing with three surgeries (aboveground, it should be noted!); two surgical nursing wings; a medical nursing wing; administrative offices and pharmacy near the entry; and a below-grade service level with kitchen facilities and a small dining room, laboratories, laundry and shop facilities, and other workaday functions.
Rooms were designed with patient comfort in mind. Wall-mounted remote-control televisions with individual speakers for each patient provided entertainment. Even the food service was designed to please: "Food service," Ruth McCloy wrote in a Monthly News Bulletin in April, 1960, "will be on a selective menu system. Although this service is being offered by a growing number of hospitals, Northwest ... will carry the plan a step further and offer a selective menu for patients on soft and special diets as well as general diets. The cafeteria and dining room will be open to the general public and hospital guests and visitors will be invited to take their meals in these attractive rooms." In addition, each patient had direct voice communication with the nearest nursing station, thus eliminating the need for a nurse to come into the room before knowing what the patient needed.
Pneumatic tubes would connect the entire hospital. Requisitions, small supplies, reports, and memos could travel through the hospital quickly and conveniently.
The only real extravagance, albeit a necessary one, was a double corridor opposite the entry. A wall divided one large corridor into two, one for hospital personnel, and one for the public.
The board hired a color consultant to coordinate interior design and meet the physicians' desires for a warm, comfortable environment.
Drs. Gould and Nelson objected vehemently to the rust-brown color on the walls in the main hallway and wing halls and to colors in some other rooms, but were outvoted. "Perhaps in the final plan completion the colors will all be excellent," Dr. Gould wrote in his diary. "I hope so for the sake of sick people."
Sick people would be greeted by beautifully landscaped grounds, designed by noted landscape architect Roberta Wightman. Ms. Wightman was as interested as Dr. Gould in preserving trees and providing each patient room with a lovely view. In an article in the Seattle Times' "Pacific" section on July 12, 1981, writer Linda Sullivan wrote, "When she tours the Northwest Hospital grounds she sees her mark everywhere, but she's not impressed. She remembers that the place was doing pretty well before she and other designers came on the scene. In 1959, the hospital was still an architect's less-than-concrete conception. The site itself was 33 acres of Madrona, White Pine and Douglas-fir acrawl and aflutter with pheasant, raccoon, and quail. Amelanchier, one of her favorite shrubs, grew wild across the western (boundary) where a subdivision now grows instead."
Ms. Wightman was to continue as the landscaping consultant to the hospital for more than 30 years, redesigning the grounds as the hospital grew. Wrote Ms. Sullivan, "... her success shows in the way the asphalt skirts and curves around birches and big old conifers. The parking and circulation system she has fought for might not score any points with a chapter of civil engineers, but it would be a hit with the Audubon Society. ... She knows, too, that she can't control everything on the hospital grounds. The azaleas along the windows of one wing still show the trampling they got in the days when the hospital wouldn't accept children as visitors.
" 'If they wanted to see their mothers, they had to sneak up to the windows,' she says, surveying damage she happily forgives." (The "one wing," of course, was the maternity nursing wing.)
The 30-foot totem pole at the entrance was carved around a structural steel column by Don Keyes. It represents a Native American legend of the thunderbird's triumph over the destructive killer whale.
It was also part of the original design for the hospital — since it was Northwest Hospital, it ought to have a northwest insignia, said George Hazen. Tamara Matthews, Dr. Gould's step-daughter, thinks Dr. Gould may have influenced the choice, however. He was fascinated by the totem pole at Northgate Shopping Center and photo-graphed it while it was being carved.
The architects and other designers involved in the project welcomed input from the physicians and others who would be working in the hospital. Mr. Hazen said that the plan was the better for their in-volvement, and, "That way they didn't have so many gripes when it was built!"
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