Hospital moves forward despite issues

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by Richard Uhlhorn

The Lake Chelan Community Hospital held its monthly commission meeting on Tuesday, August 27 and covered a number of issues of interest to the community.


Chairwoman Phyllis Gleasman and Mary Signorelli.

Chairwoman Phyllis Gleasman opened the meeting by thanking the board for its hard work and research into the latest round of the CEO (Chief Executive Officer) search. “We still have some hard work ahead of us, but we will get there,” said Gleasman.

The final CEO interview was scheduled for Tuesday afternoon, and CEO Steve Patonai stated that there would be a time lag after the final interviews. Asked what that time line was by Dr. Guffey, Patonai said it would be less than two days, and the board would be prepared to make an offer to the selected candidate.


CEO Steve Patonai gave several reports to the board including the ongoing search for a new CEO and a construction update.

Patonai also stated that the hospital hadn’t completed its reference checks. “We are still doing that,” he said.

On the Construction front, Patonai said there was a lot going on. “We are finalizing the design process and are on target.” He also stated that Bowden Construction would give the hospital updated pricing in September. “We are planning a special board workshop in early September,” remarked Patonai.

The Construction Team met with the City Planning Department on August 15 for a pre-application meeting. The USDA has also been deeply involved in the process.

The Hospital is also currently in negotiations with the owner of the Clinic Building for a new three year lease.


CFO Mike Ellis gave a financial report and stated that business was down.

CFO Mike Ellis reported that the Hospital revenues are slightly down primarily because they are operating with one provider and there is a lot of Accounts Receivable on the books. Surgeries are also down and Emergency visits were down in July which is usually the season peak. Babies born the hospital is staying steady with the past.

Ellis stated that Clinic visits are just slightly above last year. Net patient revenues were not what they were last year in July. Net operating revenues are climbing, but according to Ellis, there is quite a bit of cash locked up in accounts receivable which means cash on hand is down because of the outstanding receivables.

Bad debt is down over last year, however, the business wasn’t there either. “July was a big hit,” said Ellis. “We had almost half the net revenue.” The less volume in business means much more costs by Medicare which is a safety net. Ellis is working on an interim cost report which could show that the situation is not as bad as it seems.

The board unanimously passed Resolution #606 on Surplus Equipment after Ellis asked them to allow the management to take care of the surplus disposal.

The board also unanimously passed Resolution #608 to re-instigate a Line-of-Credit. Ellis told the board that it would be prudent to open a line of credit since they were preparing to build a new hospital. “It’s a good idea to have a line of credit available,” said Ellis. The hospital did have a line of credit in the past, but Fred Miller said, “We never drew on that.”  The hospital will ask for a $500,000 line and Jordana LaPorte stated that the goal would be to not use it.


Celeste Hankins reported on the hospital’s outreach programs

Celeste Hankins said the marketing department started adding video. She also said that NCW Life Television did a wonderful interview with EMS Director Ray Eickmeyer about Chelan’s EMS services and awards.

She also talked about the number of events and numbers of participants that were involved which is over 500 over the total of events. The hospital’s next event is a Fun Run at Wapato Point on Saturday, September 14.

On Friday, October 4, Hankins said there would be a new diabetes workshop for people who are pre-diabetic or diabetic. “The class is free and runs two and half hours over six weeks,” said Hankins.


Human Resources Director Kate Pina told the board that a program was being instigated that would allow employees to ask questions and bring concerns forward

Human Resources Director Kate Pina that currently there is only a 20 to 25 percentengagement with employees about their concerns. “We are developing a tool for bringingup concerns and hope to get a lot of information from the employees,” she said.

The Human Resources Department is also developing a protocol for performance. Pina said that on January 1, the hospital would start a new performance protocol. Gleasman asked if she would be developing the questions and Pina replied she would.

Workplace Security was also on the agenda. Patonai said it the current (violent) events happening across the country was unfortunate. He asked how the hospital was prepared in case of a situation. “We already have a lot of measures in place,” said Patonai. “But we need to have awareness with the staff. It is a balancing act.” He stated that Mary Murphy as talked extensively about security for the new facility. Eickmeyer said that increasing access is the best way to get information out to the employees.

Murphy said that the hospital has to have comfort and security in place for the patients and employees. Eickmeyer replied, “If the employees are not safe… the patients are not safe.” The hospital does have a No Firearm Policy in place.


Chief Medical Officer Dr. Guffey reported on some new hires.

Chief Medical Officer Dr. Guffey reported that the Sanctuary has a new ARNP (Advanced Registered Nurse Fractioned) beginning work this week and will be covering inpatient duties. There is also a new ARNP starting soon to help with outpatient counseling and med management. “We also have Susan Coverly beginning work part time and we are very happy to have her,” said Guffey.

Currently there is 1.5 physicians, 2 PA’s and 2 ARNPs working at the hospital/clinic. There is one orthopedic surgeon, one general surgeon, one podiatry doctor and one gynecologist. “There is a lot of unhappiness,” said Guffey. She blamed a lack of communication as a source of this situation.


Chief Nursing Officer Kris Hassl.

Kris Hassl, Chief Nursing Officer reported that the hospital is working on access to physicians at both the University of Washington and Providence Hospital. “We are also working on our transfer agreement with Confluence,” said Hassl.

The Hospital Commission meets on every fourth Tuesday, at 1:30 p.m. in the hospital board room. The public is encouraged to attend.

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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