Rural Energy Leadership in Goldendale, Washington
When the Hospital Survey and Construction Act, also known as the Hill-Burton Act, was signed into law by President Truman in 1946, the first Washington community to take advantage of its grant funding was Goldendale. It’s the seat of Klickitat County, on the east end of the Columbia River Gorge, with a population of about 3,600. Goldendale used that money to build its regional hospital, Klickitat Valley Health (KVH). “Over the years,” says Jonathan Lewis, director of support services for KVH, “the hospital has grown to take on more services and do more things, but the core of the building is still from 1949.
The main thing we’re trying to mitigate right now is an electrical system that was put in in the ’60s and has some safety issues. We bought a couple of two-stroke diesel generators from World War II surplus, and those are supporting the north side of the hospital campus.” Those generators have aged out and need replacement, at a cost around $10 million. How could such a venerable facility be updated for contemporary needs in a community where asking for extra bond money is virtually impossible?