RENTON THEN AND NOW, Rich Roodman: Valley Medical has put up some big numbers

Valley Medical Center CEO Rich Roodman stands in front of VMC’s new main entrance, framed by a crane constructing a new tower that will house a new emergency room. - Matt Brashears/Renton Reporter
Valley Medical Center CEO Rich Roodman stands in front of VMC’s new main entrance, framed by a crane constructing a new tower that will house a new emergency room.
— image credit: Matt Brashears/Renton Reporter

Valley Medical Center was less than 400,000 square feet when Rich Roodman became CEO on Jan. 1, 1983. The non-profit public hospital on South 43rd Street will grow to 1.6 million square feet when the new emergency department tower opens in late 2009 or early 2010.

That size doesn’t include the hospital’s network of more than two dozen primary care, urgent care and specialty clinics throughout Southeast King County.

Valley Medical’s size isn’t the only change since Roodman, then 34, came on board.

In 1983, Valley Medical, or Valley General Hospital as it was called until the spring 1984, focused on general practice. Today, the hospital houses a slew of specialties, including a Birth Center, a Breast Center, a Joint Center, a Neuroscience Institute and a Sleep Center.

“None of that existed in 1983,” says the now 60-year-old Roodman. “At that time (the hospital) was suffering from a reputation that wasn’t great.”

That less-than-great reputation earned the hospital the nickname “Death Valley.”

Roodman says Valley Medical has turned around, and that derogatory nickname has disappeared.

With about 500 doctors, Valley Medical Center’s physician staff has grown by about 300 since 1983. Those doctors work in about 40 specialties and sub-specialties.

Staff has also grown, from 800 or 900 in 1983 to about 2,500 today. One out of five of those employees work outside the main hospital.

Patients have also increased, from about 200,000 in 1982 and 1983 to about 600,000 a year today. The hospital also serves many more outpatients today than in 1983.

Those increased patients cost the hospital more today than in 1983. In 1983, about one out of three patients was on Medicare or Medicaid. Today that number is closer to two out of three. And the government is broke, Roodman says. In 1982 to 1983, the hospital absorbed about $1 million of medical expenses from people unable to afford their care. Today that number is $42 million.

“Financially, it’s significantly more difficult to balance the budget,” Roodman says.

In 1983, patient revenues were about $38 million. In 2008 they are about $1 billion.

Roodman’s enjoyed his time at the helm of Valley Medical Center.

“It’s been a great experience,” he says. “It’s energizing and challenging at the same time.”

Valley Medical has grown much during the last 25 years. But the hospital is just getting started. Roodman expects the hospital’s patients, technology and clinical progress over the next five years to surpass the growth that occurred during the last 25.

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