Monthly Archives: December 2014

Harrison Port Orchard clinic no longer 24 hours


Harrison Medical Center’s Port Orchard urgent care clinic will no longer be open 24 hours a day, starting Jan. 1.

The new hours are 8 a.m. to 11 p.m., seven days a week.

Scott Thompson, spokesman for Harrison parent company CHI Franciscan Health, said the clinic simply wasn’t seeing many patients in the early morning hours and Harrison could no longer justify keeping staff there 24 hours.

Thompson noted CHI Franciscan will be extending its 24-hour virtual urgent care service to Kitsap County beginning Monday. The service allows patients to consult with a doctor from home. Doctors can call in prescriptions and refer patients to emergency departments if necessary.

Patients are charged a flat fee of $35 per consultation. The fee is refunded if they wind up visiting an emergency department.

Thompson said the medical group may be announcing additional after-hours services in Kitsap soon.

This post was updated to correct a time I messed up, and include input from Scott Thompson.

Kitsap’s inpatient hospice center closes

Hospice2_8940068_ver1.0_640_480Kitsap County’s only standalone inpatient hospice center closed this week.

The nonprofit Hopsice of Kitsap County board made the decision to shutter the Fred Lowthian Care Center at the end of September. Board President Suzanne Plemmons said a ceremony was held Monday to mark the official closing.

Plemmons said there were no patients living at the center at the time of the closure. Hospice of Kitsap has contracted  with skilled nursing facilities to provide inpatient care for clients in the future.

Plemmons said the transition has gone as well as possible, but “it was kind of bittersweet for the staff and volunteers.”

Hospice of Kitsap will spend January moving out of the East Bremerton space, which is owned by neighboring Stafford Healthcare at Belmont facility.

The Fred Lowthian Center provided end-of-life care more than 1,200 patients since opening in 2008. Hospice officials cited mounting budget shortfalls (the center lost $550,000 in 2013) and a shift toward in-home hospice care as reasons for the closure.

You can read my full story on the decision to close the center here.

The closure was part of a tumultuous year for Hospice of Kitsap, which fired its entire executive team in November. A search for a new executive director is underway.

Silver City introduces new beer and new look

Silver City Brewery is welcoming the new year with a new beer and new look.

The Bremerton microbrewery announced the introduction of Cold One Pilsner to its seasonal lager rotation with a news release Tuesday.

Cold One is being distributed in bottles and cans this month, with draft available in January.

Cold One is the first Silver City release to showcase the brewery’s new branding. Silver City worked with Blindtiger Design of Seattle to create a new master logo and logos for each beer. New packaging will roll out in 2015.

“While we have great pride in that lineage and our history, we felt it was time to update our look,” Silver City owner Scott Houmes said. “After a long in depth process we really feel the new look is befitting the quality, consistency and culture of Silver City Brewery.”

Silver City was founded in 1996. It’s Kitsap County’s largest brewery.

Harper Pier reopening set for Jan. 16

harper docknew-and-improved Harper Pier should open to the public by the middle of next month.

A ribbon cutting is set for 10 a.m. Jan. 16. U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer will attend.

Contractors hoped to have the new dock ready by the end of the year. But Port of Bremerton Facilities Maintenance Manager Lamarr Wright said progress has been slowed because a shipment of electrical fixtures hasn’t arrived.

The delivery was held up by the labor disputes disrupting shipping at Puget Sound ports. The same labor disputes forced container ships to anchor off South Kitsap this winter.

So it’s possible the electrical fixtures for Harper Pier were bobbing just offshore…

container shipWright said Harper Pier is still on track to be completed by Jan. 15, within the original projected timeline for the $1.3 million project.

The Friends of Harper Pier page on Facebook is a good place to keep up on Harper news and find lots of cool pictures of the new structure.


Kitsap employment up for the holidays

Shop1_9941910_ver1.0_640_480The holiday hiring season arrived in earnest in November.

About 2,200 more Kitsap residents were employed last month than in October, according to a monthly report from the Employment Security Department.

The jump isn’t unusual, as companies tend to hire seasonal workers during the holidays (the JCPenney in Silverdale, for example, told me they brought on 70 employees before Black Friday).

About 220 more people were listed as unemployed but actively seeking jobs November. Kitsap’s labor force (the total number of people employed or looking for jobs) grew by 2,450. The state’s labor force also grew significantly in November.

That’s a good sign to economists. If people are looking for work, it usually means they’re optimistic they’ll find work.

Growth in the labor force demonstrates “ongoing faith in a recovering economy,” state labor economist Paul Turek said.

Here’s a graphical look at labor trends in Kitsap over the last three years:


Answering questions about the Haggen deal

We learned late last week that the Albertsons stores in Silverdale and East Bremerton, and the Safeway in Port Orchard were among 146 locations being acquired by Haggen. (See a map of locations here).

The news generated a lot of interest and questions from readers, particularly those whose neighborhood stores are changing hands.

While we don’t have a lot of detail on how this deal will shake out, I can at least answer some basic questions. Feel free to post yours in the comment section below:

Q: Why have I never heard of Haggen?

uADctk7I9w75ZHwNOYGZDVpyjeaWD5LHfsF0IZXYwj4A: Haggen has been around since 1933 but most of its 18 locations are up north in Whatcom and Skagit counties. If you haven’t live up that way you may not have bumped into one.

On top of that, the chain was actually shrinking rather than growing before this blockbuster deal was made.

It’s still Washington’s sixth largest private company (remember behemoths like Amazon and Microsoft are publicly traded).

Q: Who owns Haggen?

A: The Haggen family did until recently. Now the majority owner is a Florida-based investment group called Comvest. Comvest has funneled more than $2 billion into 140 companies, according to its literature. Continue reading

Proposed Bremerton pot shop wins license lottery

Backers of a proposed Bremerton marijuana shop got lucky in a lottery held last week by the state Liquor Control Board.

The lottery was a mulligan of sorts for eight applicants who’d mistakenly been left out of the mega lottery last spring. The eight were given the same odds as their counterparts in the original lottery (you can read about the methodology here).

Sensibility, a pot shop proposed for 1107 N. Callow Avenue in Bremerton, scored well enough to have its application processed. It will go through the same vetting process as all the other proposed shops.


Bremerton doesn’t have a recreational marijuana shop open inside city limits yet (HWY 420 is just outside).  The state allocated the city two licenses (Bainbridge Island gets one and the rest of Kitsap gets seven).

The lottery held last spring determined which applicants would be first in line to get the limited number of licenses. The Bremerton results are posted below.

So far none of these proposed businesses have materialized:



Tuesday deadline for health exchange plans

healthplanfinderIf you’re interested in buying health insurance through the state exchange, and want your plan to kick in Jan. 1, you need to sign up by the end of  business Tuesday.

Customers renewing their Qualified Health Plans through the exchange also need to sign up by 5 p.m. Dec. 23 for Jan. 1 coverage.

Those who aren’t worried about getting their coverage on New Years Day can still enroll through Feb. 15. Apple Health (Medicaid) enrollment continues year-round.

The enrollment period began Nov. 15. About 10,000 Washington residents signed up for private plans through Healthplanfinder  by Dec. 11 and another 46,000 renewed coverage, according to a news release. An additional 480,000 had accessed Medicaid coverage.

This is the second year for the state’s health exchange.

Haggen acquiring three Kitsap grocery stores

4uTvBZXjt8BZtsvzlOcN0pAdBVwipyaR6w1xSpIDPpwAlbertsons stores in Silverdale and East Bremerton, and a Safeway in Port Orchard will soon be operated by Haggen Food.

The Bellingham-based grocery and pharmacy chain announced an agreement Friday to acquire 146 existing stores. The deal is part of the divestment process necessitated by a Federal Trade Commission review of the Albertsons/Safeway merger.

In Kitsap County, Haggen will take on the Albertsons stores at 2222 NW Bucklin Hill Road and 2900 Wheaton Way, as well as the Safeway at 3355 Bethel Way.

The Gig Harbor Safeway at 4831 Point Fosdick Drive was also included in the deal, which still requires FTC approval.

You can see a map of all the stores acquired by Haggen here.

All the acquired stores will switch over to the Haggen brand during the first half of 2015, according to the announcement.

The deal means Haggen will expand from 18 stores with 16 pharmacies to 164 stores with 106 pharmacies. Its staff will grow from 2,000 employees to more than 10,000 employees.

All Albertsons and Safeway employees at the acquired stores will be given the opportunity to stay on with Haggen, according to the announcement. Management teams will be kept in place.

“We want to retain these existing teams while allowing our growing company to build on their past successes,” John Clougher, Haggen CEO for thePacific Northwest, said in the announcement.

Founded in 1933, Haggen is Washington’s sixth largest private company. The chain touts its work supporting local producers, and “creating a lasting and sustainable local food economy.”

See the full announcement here.

Former Harrison COO joins Tacoma General

adar-palis_vfsFormer Harrison Medical Center Chief Operating Officer Adar Palis has been named to the same position at Tacoma General Hospital.

MultiCare Health System announced the hire Wednesday.

Palis worked at Harrison for more than a decade, before departing the organization abruptly this fall. He left while Harrison was in the process of selecting a president to replace retired CEO Scott Bosch.

Palis officially resigned Dec. 4, according to a statement from Harrison.

“We thank Adar for his years of service to our organization and wish him much success as he departs to pursue other interests,” the statement said.

Harrison selected former Overlake Medical Center COO David Schultz as its new top executive. Schultz started work at Harrison Monday.

I’ll have a profile of Schultz and more details on the Palis transition in the next few days. Here’s the full MultiCare announcement:

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