by Richard Uhlhorn
The Lake Chelan Community Hospital Commission welcomed their new CEO George Rohrich to the Valley at their meeting on Tuesday, December 17. Rohrich has been on the job since Wednesday, December 11, and is still getting his feet on the ground.
George Rohrich took over the helm of the Hospital on Wednesday, December 11, and is busy getting his feet on the ground meeting staff, providers and board members.
“Since I’ve been here I’ve had the pleasure of meeting a lot of the staff and providers,” said Rohrich. “I have been really encouraged by the response to my arrival.” He has also met individually with each commissioner since his arrival.
Rohrich takes over the responsibilities Interim CEO Mike Ellis who served in the interim since Steve Patonia retired and Rohrich arrived.
Rohrich says the job will be a little challenging, but that he is looking forward to the task. He stated that he is looking at the good and the bad and thinks that is the place he will start. “I need to understand what we are trying to accomplish,” said Rohrich. He plans on going back and looking at the hospital historically.
Kim Dunbar, executive director of the Lake Chelan Health & Wellness Foundation presented a check to the Lake Chelan Community Hospital & Clinics for $325,000 to fund the new 3-D mammography machine.
The Lake Chelan Health and Wellness Foundation presented the board with a $325,000 check to purchase a 3D mammogram machine.
She was joined in presenting the check by President Tom Anglin, Augustin Venegas and administrative assistant, Virginia Murphy. Dunbar thanked the community, Guild B and the Murdock Foundation for making the gift possible.
CFO Mike Ellis gave a construction update and told the Commission that the architects have been spending several days a week going over the design before they begin the construction drawings. “It’s all within the timeframe,” said Ellis. “The only concern was with the USDA but that has been resolved.”
Regarding signage on the outside of the new building, Ellis told the board that they will see all of the options. The interior signs are a part of the contract.
The Hospital property is being subdivided into two parcels to save on soil engineering etc. Asked what the intention was, Ellis replied that they will eventually develop tow different sections of the property.
Ellis also reported that the hospital is negotiating with its bank for a Line of Credit for $350,000. Initially, it was discussed that the hospital would seek a $500,000 and Board Chair Phyliss Gleasman asked why only $350,000. Ellis replied that it was just negotiation with the bank for fair interest rates.
Boardmember Mary Murphy brought up the issues at the Clinic. “It was originally on campus,” said Murphy. “A lot has changed.” Gleasman replied that the issues will be something the new CEO deals with. “We just need to put the facts on the table.” La Porte added that there are so many working pieces the board and hospital are not looking at.
“We need to get all parties on board,” stated Gleasman. Murphy said they need to start looking at it and outline a timeline and cost and what it will take to make it work.
CFO Mike Ellis gave a dire financial report, stating that October was the worst month the hospital has ever had.
Since the December meeting was scheduled earlier in the month than the normal commission meeting, CFO Mike Ellis said he only had October’s financials to share.
“The second half of this year is not meeting the budget and we are still struggling,” said Ellis. He told the board that surgeries are down and clinic visits are down. “The market is there,” said Ellis. He noted that Columbia Valley Health, with their new building is a factor. “They do it well,” he said. Ellis stated that the answer to clients is that the hospital does have providers to meet their medical needs.
Regarding gross revenue, Ellis stated that was where its at. “We have a lot out there that is billing,” said Ellis. “It has taken months to get it coded. Documentation has been a problem.” The hospital had a major problem with coding when its coder left and wasn’t able to bill anything for three months.
Murphy said, “We can’t bill unless it is documented.” Ellis replied, “That’s right!” He went on to say that October has been the worst month the hospital has ever had and said, “We can’t get out of trouble by cost controls; it has to be by volume.”The hospital will not be giving any increases in employee wages and Ellis said that will help tremendously going into 2020.
Paige Bartholomew gave the board a presentation on the North Central Washington’s overall Health Assessment based on six focus groups throughout the region. She showed the board that they:
- Collected data for over 1,000 indicators
- Conducted a 15 question survey that was filled out by 5,010 NCW residents
- Six focus groups were used to identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats affecting community health
- The Community assessments concluded that:
Access to Care and long wait times were an issue
That the region needs more quality medical personnel
- The Barriers are:
Distance to Clinics and Hospitals
High cost of health care
Insufficient number of providers
Lack of awareness on how to access resources
- Affordable Housing:
Wages to low for the area
Cost of Housing is too high
And Regional weaknesses include lack of opportunities
“This process wouldn’t have been so successful as it was without the participation,” said Bartholomew.
The next Hospital Commission meeting will be on January 28, at 1:30 p.m. in the Boardroom.