by Richard Uhlhorn
Karen McKeller, a local resident spoke up during the public comment period at the Lake Chelan Community Hospital Board Workshop Meeting on April 16 after the board discussed plans for its up-coming Town Hall.
Ms. McKeller said, “There is a tremendous amount of anger, frustration and confusion in the community. Your communication with the public is poor, but I’m pleased with the effort to make public communication better.”
It is not just community member that are wondering what is going on with the hospital, but some physicians also voice concern about the hospital’s concerns at an earlier board meeting.
The workshop directly addressed the communication issues and the Hospital will be holding a Public Town Hall at the Senior Center on Wednesday, May 8, beginning at 5:30 p.m.
Hospital Commission Vice Chair Mary Murphy
Vice Chair Mary Murphy remarked that the public forum would be a chance to hear from the community.
The Format of the Town Hall will give the hospital board a chance to update the community on hospital business. “It will give us a chance to bring the public up to speed on facilities and our plan to move forward.”
In addition, Murphy said she would like to have a list of where the hospital was and where it is now in regards to patient experience. Commissioner Signorelli felt it would be worthwhile to have EMS tell its story also.
Chairman Phyliss Gleasman (connected by phone) said, “We are making changes, but we are still not there.”
Commissioner Mary Signorelli
Signorelli asked if they should bring in a facilitator to help with public questions and concerns at the Town Hall meeting. The Town Hall will cover issues for a period of two hours.
Commissioner Jordana LaPorte felt it would be good to go over the board functions and how it works. Murphy added that it is important to let the public know what the board role at the hospital is. “Sometimes they don’t understand.”
Commissioner Jordana LaPorte
LaPorte said that many people are reluctant to ask questions at these types of meetings and it might be a good idea to have a “Question or Suggestion” box for written questions. Gleasman added that the board could take questions and answer them each month. “We won’t be able to address all questions during the Town Hall,” she said.
Gleasman asked what the follow-up to the meeting would be. “I get stopped on the street with concerns and I want to give the correct information. We have to follow-up,” she said. “If a public member has a concern, write it down and get it to the appropriate committee for the answer and then back to the board. That way we would have continuity no matter what the topic.” She added that the board needs a process to deal with legitimate concerns from the community.
Gleasman’s concerns are disinformation and perceptions in the community. Murphy added that the board create access. “It might be that they come to a board meeting or simply write a letter. We need to encourage the community to attend meetings… it is their hospital.”
Commissioner Fred Miller
Commissioner Fred Miller added that there are areas the board can’t go into because of confidential nature. LaPorte added that the reality is that many community members just want to rant. “It’s not always pleasant… not always easy, but we don’t fire people, that is the CEO’s job.” LaPorte added that she would rather someone with a concern set up a time when she could just sit down and talk. “I don’t need to answer questions in the grocery store when I’m shopping.”
LaPorte also said that if something comes to her that is a concern that needs board attention or decision she would bring it to the board. “I don’t make decisions, the board does.”
Murphy stated that she thinks the board has some critical issues to address. Signorelli said the board needs to bring back an educational piece to the board meetings. “We need to add it back in,” said Signorelli. “We should have an ability to educate our community.”
It was decided that to get the information out the board should attend various community organizations to let members of those organizations know what is happening. With the upcoming Town Hall, the hospital should be able to alleviate the community concerns about facilities, the new hospital plans, the large number of resignations that have taken place at the hospital and when ground will be broken.
Rumor has it that the hospital’s construction manager has also resigned along with several medical professionals. The community is going to want to know what the plans are for replacing these people.
After McKellar’s comments about local concerns, Mary Signorelli said, “Communication is the key!”
The Public will have its chance to communicate its concerns to the board on May 8 at the Hospital’s Town Hall.