Hospital moves forward on new strategies

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by Richard Uhlhorn

The Lake Chelan Community Hospital Board of Commissioners met on Tuesday, September 25.

Mary Ann Patton, a local resident, made a public comment about how excited she is with the Hospital’s new direction. “I’ve been able to hear some of the things you are doing,” she said. “It is exactly the type of commitment to turn a substantive portion of our community’s trust in you in a positive direction.”

The CEO Recruitment Screening Committee (Interim CEO Steve Patonai, Phyllis Gleasman and Mary Murphy) developed a flow chart to identify the process to select the new CEO. “We went back and asked for all resumes,” said Patonai. The full commission has the draft flow chart and were told that if there were any changes to let the screening committee know.


Chairwoman Mary Signorelli told everyone that the board would go into executive session later in the afternoon to discuss the seven candidates that have been selected. “We need to decide if we are to interview all seven or shake it down to three or less,” said Signorelli.

With regards to the USDA loans and grant, Signorelli stated that the hospital is about as close as it can be. “We have tentative approval,” said Signorelli. The entire loan package is now in Washington DC awaiting final approval. “It has been a long and arduous and painful process to wait this long,” she said.

In a telephone conversation on October 1, Signorelli said the hospital has received final approval and a letter noting that approval was in the mail. “We will wait until we receive the letter to make a formal announcement,” she said.

The process went from the USDA offices in Wenatchee to Olympia where the funding committee met with the agency “There were very few questions,” Signorelli stated. “We were surprised there wasn’t more questions.”

As soon as the approval is finalized, Signorelli said the Hospital will move forward for bonding with Wheatland Bank.

The Board and Staff continue to work on the 2019 strategies that were discussed at its annual retreat in Pateros. Patonai went over the strategies in the meeting including:

  • Service
  • Quality and Safety
  • Growth and Innovation
  • Finance
  • Community

The Hospital is developing a strategy to be in the top 10 percentile in Patient Satisfaction and top 10 percentile in community hospitals. They have a strategy to achieve a long term goal of 80% of patient visits by Primary Care Teams and Zero Preventable Patient Harm.

The strategy for Growth and Innovation is to increase access and availability to primary care and specialty providers. “We need to be thinking out of the box,” said Patonai.

The hospital finance goal is to increase its operating margin and cash reserves by the end of the year.

Community outreach includes developing and initiating a comprehensive wellness and education program with the community.

Patonai and the board want to see more training and methods to improve customer service. Patonai stated that when staff evaluations are done, strong performers will be rewarded and those with lower performance levels will be out the door.


In the Finance area the hospital will be cutting back on travel and conferences.


EMS Director Ray Eickmeyer and Paramedics Mistaya Johnston and Kurt Middleton gave the commission an EMS update.


EMS Personnel gave an update on EMS activities. Pictured from the left are Paramedics Kurt Middleton, Mistaya Johnston and EMS Director Ray Eickmeyer.

According to Eickmeyer there are 14 EMTs (5 fulltime) and 16 Paramedics (8 fulltime) in the EMS system.

Middleton told the commission that the group is constantly training and setting up scenarios so EMS can provide quality service for the community.

Seventy percent of EMS calls originate in Chelan with another 23 percent in Manson. The rest are to other locations like Entiat or in Douglas County. Eickmeyer told the commission that responding EMS crews are on the scene within five minutes of being called out.

“We are one of the top performing EMS crews in the State,” said Eickmeyer. “We’v been in the top one percent for the last two years. Spokane attained that last month.”

He said that they saved 17 lives in the last 10 years because they are able to bring them back from being clinically dead before they arrive at the Emergency Room. “The National average is only two lives,” said Eickmeyer. “We get a pulse now in 80 percent of our ambulance transports to the hospital. Washington State is the best in the Nation in that regards.”

Chelan EMS is also a local leader in CPR training. “We offer more training than anyone in the region. I would put us up against Seattle,” he stated.

Chelan’s EMS is oe of the only two units in the entire state that can transfer highly infectious individuals and are the only Hazmat trained rescue unit in NCW.


Interim CEO Steve Patonai

During his CEO Report, Patonai stated that the Chelan Clinic is a growth engine for the hospital going forward.

Patonai told the board that after 32 years, Lee Tinsley’s last day was on Monday and that the hospital would not be refilling his position. “We will be sharing that position.

He stated that the Department of Health made an unannounced visit to the Hospital and that there are several quick fixes that the Hospital needs to address quickly.


Author: allthingslakechelan

I have been a journalist, photojournalist and reporter in the Lake Chelan Valley since 1988; first with the Wenatchee World, then 15 years at the Lake Chelan Mirror and another 12 years at GoLakeChelan. Currently, I am semi-retired but can't give up the media gig which is why I started All Things Lake Chelan blog. I also have two social media platforms; allthingslakechelan/facebook and lakechelansportsandrecration/facebook. I am also a professional photographer with many credits with major outlets around the world.

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