By Richard Uhlhorn
The Lake Chelan Community Hospital’s board of commissioners held a community forum covering all aspects of the hospital’s organization including Community, Quality, Finance, Affiliations & Affiliations and Facilities.
Board Chairwoman Phyllis Gleasman told those present that the changes being made at the hospital are sustainable. “We have six areas to focus on to rise to the next level (of service), said Gleasman. “The committees are a direct result of the six pillars,” she added.
Hospital Board of Commissioners Mary Signorelli, Jordana La Porte, Fred Miller, Mary Murphy, and Phyliss Gleasman
The committee members were chosen based on their relative experience to each committee. “Everyone has their expertise,” said Gleasman. She also stated that the duties of the governing board are to have transparency with the community.
The first report was from Jordana La Porte and Mary Signorelli, both of whom sit on the Community Committee. La Porte has been on the commission since May 31 and said, “There have been a lot of meetings in the last eight months.” She said the committee has been identifying, exploring and evaluating its outreach to the community. “This is the exact type of event we have wanted. It is frustrating to have only two citizens show up at board meetings”
Commissioner La Porte
La Porte stated that the hospital would continue to get information out to the community through Celeste Hankins and Augustine Venegas along with the events they produce.
Mary Murphy reported on the importance of the “Quality of Services” at the hospital and its clinic. “Quality is the most important thing at the hospital,” said Murphy. “Why do you come to our facilities. If you are satisfied, you will come back. That is one of our focuses is quality. We are dedicated to improving our competency,” added Murphy. “We want to be the best of the best.”
Commissioner Mary Murphy
Elmira Forner, a Manson resident, remarked that she had an unsatisfactory experience at the hospital several years back. “I had a pulmonary embolism and there seemed to be a lack of teamwork. I hope you work on that,” remarked Forner. She got a laugh out of the audience when she said she even received a bill for a prostate exam. “Good luck to you. I hope you make it comfortable for people to go there.”
Commissioner Fred Miller
Commissioners Fred Miller and Jordana La Porte addressed financial issues at the hospital. Miller remarked that coding (which is how the hospital gets paid) has gone from 16,000 to 68,000 items. “Money can be left on the table if it is not done correctly,” Miller stated.
La Porte added that the capital budget is in place and that the Finance Committee is focusing on two things; longer term Capital Planning and building a reserve fund for the future.
Gleasman and Murphy addressed the hospital’s move towards more affiliations and partnerships. “It is absolute key to us,” said Murphy. “We are looking at ways to benefit the people we serve; specifically ways to increase service.”
Bringing in specialists will hopefully improve revenue and bring in more patients who don’t want to leave the valley for special medical issues. “There is a lot of benefits to be found,” said Murphy.
The hospital has formed affiliations with Swedish, University of Washington’s Resident Program, Columbia Valley Community Health and Confluence Health among others. For example, CCVH offers not only primary care, but dental services and their doctors serve at the hospital. “They refer patients for diagnostic testing.”
Another resident and retired nurse remarked that she had broken her leg last year and Dr. Hutton had done the workup, but she was frustrated that the hospital and clinic don’t talk to each other.
It was explained that when the hospital purchased the clinic merging the information between the two was almost impossible. They are working on that issue.
The Facilities committee is made up of Mary Signorelli, Gleasman, the CEO, CNO, CFO, Sanctuary Director Jane Jebwabney and Ken Peters. “We have been working on the new hospital since the bond was passed on June 8,” said Signorelli. “Almost everything we have is in draft form.”
Commissioner Mary Signorelli
In a meeting with the architect and contractor earlier in the week, they came up with a timeline for the construction of the new hospital. “Our goal has been to stay within the budget.” The hospital has $44.5 million to work with.
Over the course of passing the bond and today, the plan to build a 77,000 square foot hospital has been reduced to 54.000 sq. ft. “We had to scale down in order to stay within that budget,” said Signorelli. “This is the first time we have had anything to share with you.”
The EMS garage is not a part of the new hospital, but will eventually have a garage/office on the campus. “We feel we can build it locally for less,” said Signorelli. The Clinic was never approved to be at the hospital and that will not happen, but eventually they hope to have the clinic on campus.
La Porte stated that the scaling back of the hospital space meant getting rid of non-essential space and shrinking room sizes. They have gone from having three Operating rooms to two and they will be smaller.
The new hospital will have 21 private beds with nine for medical issues and 10 for the Sanctuary patients with two rooms as conversion rooms. There will be seven beds in triage and two OR suites at 460 sq. ft. and one Procedure room. “It will be a very efficient hospital. We will be able to provide outstanding care.”
A resident asked where the offices would be located and Gleasman replied, “probably in portable units on campus. The administration will be in the hospital.”
Resident Karen McKellar asked how the board planned on keeping the community in the process?
Murphy replied that they would continue to produce newsletters, hold more forums and keep the website updated. “We are working hard to keep the community informed.”
Another resident asked if they anticipated further delays? “We do not anticipate further delays.” However, the plans for the new hospital must be approved by the Department of Health and the USDA. City permits will also have to be obtained.
There are contingencies in place for change orders during construction and one retired contractor stated that there will be change orders.
At the earlier meeting with the contractor and architect, it was noted that $1.5 billion in bonds has passed or is in the process of being voted on in Eastern Washington. This could have a major impact on contractor and sub-contractor availability.
Forner asked about mental health facilities and whether or not they would also be provided considering that mental health is a real issue in today’s world with all the shootings, homeless and whatever else you want to call it.
Sanctuary Director Jane Jebwabney
Jebwabney said that a psychiatrist would be available if needed at the hospital. “We will have access to a psychiatrist.”
CEO Steve Patonai
CEO Steve Patonai stated that they are building what they can for the next four to six years, but a part of the design would be the ability to expand on the hospital when needed.
Paramedic Kurt Middleton
Chelan’s EMS has grant money from the Department of Health to provide Community Health Workers who will be able to visit with people in their homes and report back to physicians with the results of a check up. They will also evaluate your home for medical needs. Do you need a ramp. “It’s a new concept,” said Paramedic Kurt Middleton.
On the backside of the agenda was a Community Forum Evaluation questionnaire with the following questions to the public:
- What would you like to see addressed/changed for the next Forum?
- What topics about the hospital do you have that were not addressed tonight?
- Would you like to have one of the Commissioners contact you?
If you were unable to attend the Forum you can direct your questions to any one of the board members. Their email addresses are available on the Hospital Website.