Hospital board, staff and docs move toward a new vision for a new hospital

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by Richard Uhlhorn

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The LCCH Board, administrative staff and several doctors listen to Consultant Jody Carona talk about the process of determining a vision for the
hospital at a retreat in Pateros.

Last Wednesday and Thursday, the Lake Chelan Board of Commissioners, administrative staff and several doctors held a retreat in Pateros to discuss the future of the Lake Chelan Hospital. After a long day on Wednesday going over mundane hospital business, the group met on Thursday to work through a process to develop a new vision for the hospital.

Consultant Jody Carona, a principal at Seattle’s Health Facilities & Development, kept the group on track throughout the day. Each participant initially had 15 minutes to explain what their specific vision is for the future of the hospital.

The Strategic Initiatives for the Board, Administration and Staff were:

  • Develop a family practice residency program for the Lake Chelan Valley in collaboration with the University of Washington and Columbia Valley Community Health
  • Attract and retain high quality medical staff in the community
  • Collaborate with the Hospital Foundation and regional partners to offer health and wellness programs

The stated Mission of the Hospital is to:

“Provide patient centered, quality healthcare with compassion and respect”

Without fail, the board and doctors all envisioned a facility that was quality driven, compassionate and empathy driven. “I would like to see a successful, compassionate care center that is financially viable with a large reserve fund,” said Jordana LaPorte. “I envison a hospital that people want to come to whether they live in our district or not.”

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Jordana LaPort – Hospital Commissioner

Mary Signorelli remarked that there is a lot of healing to do in the larger community as the hospital moves forward. “We need to rebuild trust… get outside of our comfort level and spend time doing what we are doing right now,” said Signorelli. “We need to find what is working and what is not.”

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Board Chairman Mary Signorelli

“I think we are a vial part of this community,” said Signorelli. “It is important that as a board we are the face of this community.”

Dr. Ty Witt chimed in and said, “The community can do without the hospital, but it can’t do without the doctors’ clinic. The clinic is the foundation of what happens.” Dr. Witt stated that the reimbursement model has really changed and that is why the clinic is so important to the hospital’s success. “If we don’t perform, we don’t get paid,” he said. “You are the board of commissioners of the hospital and the clinic.”

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Dr. Ty Witt

“ I don’t want to see a bad reputation,” said Witt. “Every citizen that walks in has to know that our mission is to take care of them.”

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Commissioner Phyliss Gleasman

Pylliss Gleasman stated that the hospital is now a medical campus with Columbia Valley Community Health as a part of that campus. “We need to go forward as a medical campus. We have to be sure our services are pertinent to our demographics,” said Gleasman. Fred Miller added patients need to be service with privacy and dignity.

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Dr. Keri Bergeson

Dr. Keri Bergeson, Columbia Valley Community Health, said she would like to see the Univesity of Washington as a partner with residents coming in and working at the hospital and Columbia Health. “It would be a wonderful network,” she said.

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Commissioner Mary Murphy

Mary Murphy stated that the hospital is going to affiliate. “I want to see more services that are people focused,” she said. Murphy added that the services must be of the highest quality. However, she worries about the hospital being able to afford the equipment needed for that high quality service. “I want the community to come through the (hospitals) door and it is the right door. Every door is the right door. Let’s make ourselves unique. Let’s not try to expand access… let’s be good at what we do.” Murphy added that the hospital needs a solid business plan.

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Dr. Tobe Hartberg

Dr. Tobe Harberg said the main goal of the hospital is to have good access for primary care. “We need to take care of the residents in our Valley,” said Harberg. “We need to provide better access.” He added that he felt partnerships are very important.

Dr. Harberg is afraid that once the new facility is built, the hospital will outgrow it.

Signorelli asked Carona where the group was headed with all this information. “We are going through steps to get to a vision,”replied Carona. “I know this is messy.” Signorelli stated she would like to see a 10 year vision. Carona said, “It’s a lot of work… let’s let it flow.”

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Interim CEO Steve Patonai

CEO Steve Patonai chimed in and said, “I see we are struggling a bit. I get a sense of what we are going to look like 10 years from now, but this is really abstract.”

At that point Carona put up a list of potential outcomes from the day that included:

  • Developing a primary care center with multiple access points and minimal wait periods;
  • A community hospital with higher quality and providing specialty services;
  • Develop partnerships and alliances to:
    – Provide services beyond the hospital’s scope
    2. – To realize efficiencies and improve contracts
  • – Accelerate needed investments, infuse capital, enhance quality and provide brand.
  • Provide otreach for wellness education.
  • Become a top hospital on quality and finance
  • Have reserves in place to withstand changing (medical) environment.

After Carona shared the above list, Signorelli said, “I feel really good about this. I feel like it’s coming together. Patonai added that the list gives a little structure. “Let’s work within the framework,” said Patonai.

Dr. Bergeson stated that she is excited about the potential partnership with CVCH.

Signorelli finished by saying that she was pleased with all the input during the session and was looking forward to using the input as a guide. “I was pretty delighted to have doctors here to give a different perspective,” said Signorelli. “I think we are moving in the right direction. Everyone has the same goals, but different processes to getting there.”

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Chief Financial Officer Vicki Bodle

Vicki Bodle felt the session was encouraging. LaPorte said she had learned a lot and Brad Hankins, COO, told the board that he had really enjoyed the entire process.

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Chief Operations Officer Brad Hankins

Interim CEO Steve Patonai added that he felt they had enough information to move forward with a vision for the future. “I wanted to see how the board approached the vision for the hospital. I also wanted the doctors to be involved.”

“We have more work to do,” said Signorelli during a telephone conversation on Wednesday evening. “We are hoping to have another workshop.” The next workshop which will take place in the next six weeks will hopefully give the administration and staff the direction they need to build the strategies and vision for the hospital going forward.

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