Chelan-Douglas Board of Health approves a safe re-opening resolution

allthingslakechelan-banner-ad-hospital-x-1200

The CDHD (Chelan-Douglas County Heath District) Board of Health held a special meeting on Tuesday, May 26, to discuss the following agenda items.

 

  1. Discussion and possible action requesting the Governor to permit additional businesses to open;
  2. Executive session pursuant to RCW 42.30.110(1)(i) to discuss potential litigation with District legal counsel; and
  3. Discuss Health District enforcement policy and possible action

Barry Kling, Director of the CDHD, opened the meeting saying it wasn’t clear of the District was going to submit a second proposal to the State for reopening the two counties. “I take it we are not going to do a second application for opening,” he said.

Commissioner Kevin Overbay said, “At this time we are not prepared to look at moving forward. The thing that has me troubled is the 10 (cases) per 100,000 people. We need to do a little more work to with Barry and Dr. Butler the first part of next week to look at other options.” Overbay stated that he wasn’t ready to move away from the Board’s Phase 1.5 proposal.

It was reported that there were more positive cases last week than the week before.

The board moved into an executive session and came back to the meeting an hour later with a resolution 2020-04. “We are very supportive of the staff work being done and guided where we want to go with enforcement of the Governor’s orders.” said Overbay. “This is a good document moving forward.

Following is the Resolution 2020-4 which was approved unanimously by the board.

RESOLUTION 202-004 OF THE CHELAN-DOUGLAS HEALTH DISTRICT
BOARD OF HEALTH REGARDING SAFE REOPENING
DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC

Whereas the Chelan-Douglas County Health District Board of Health is aware of legal challenges to the orders issued by the Governor in response of the COVID-19 pandemic; and,

Whereas the time has come for gradual re-opening of activities limited by the Governor’s orders, but a sudden and disorderly re-opening of such activities could produce unnecessary health risks during the pandemic; and,

Whereas businesses and organizations wishing to resume more normal operations must do so gradually and must take care to implement social distancing and other safeguards so long as the COVID-19 pandemic cannot be controlled through effective vaccines and/or medications;

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Chelan-Douglas Health District Board of Health adopts the following policies:

Section 1: The primary role of Chelan-Douglas Health District  regarding re-opening is to work with our communities to assure that COVID-19 prevention measures are implemented effectively to the extent possible during the process of re-opening.

Section 2: Chelan-Douglas Health District will continue to emphasize education and partnership with local businesses, organizations and families over enforcement wherever possible.

Section 3: In the event that the Governor’s orders regarding COVID-10 are rendered invalid, Chelan-Douglas Health District will implement an orderly phased re-opening process using stages comparable to those in the Governor’s Safe Start Washington plans of May 4, 2020.

Section 4: When enforcement actions are needed to achieve safe re-opening, after appropriate consultation and warnings are given, the enforcement procedures of the Chelan-Douglas Health Sanitary Code will be used in connection with any applicable orders issued under the statutory authority of the Chelan-Douglas Health Officer.

Section 5: So long as the Governor’s orders are in effect, Health District staff who observe violations of the orders shall document and report such violations to State of Washington officials, who may then take such measures as they consider necessary.

Chelan and Douglas County leadership to ask Governor to approve their Phase 1 proposal for reopening some functions

by Richard Uhlhorn

The Chelan-Douglas County Health District held a special board meeting on Monday, May 11, with its Board of Health members to finalize a proposal called Phase 1.5 which will be sent to Governor Inslee and his Secretary of Health Dr. John Wiesman.

The Board of Health members, who include both Chelan and Douglas County Commissioners, the Waterville Mayor, and East Wenatchee, Wenatchee and Leavenworth City Council members along with CDHD staff members including Dr. Malcolm Butler and others.

The final proposal will include a subset of Phase 2 changes without producing a significant increase in the risk of COVID-19 cases. The board is following the Governor’s Safe Start Washington protocol, but summarizes the Corona Virus activity in both Chelan and Douglas County.

Phase 1.5 will be asking the Governor to allow the following activities to resume:

  • Essential Travel and limited Non-Essential Travel;
  • Medical, Dental and Behavioral Health Services when required to meet emergent patient needs with appropriate social distancing and infectious control measures;
  • Hair & Nail Salons (no hair cutting);
  • Outdoor recreation involving five or fewer people with appropriate social distancing; and
  • Retail stores for in-store purchase with social distancing.

Marc Straub, Douglas County Commissioner stated that box stores were allowed to remain open and it that it makes sense to allow smaller retail stores to open because that would reduce over-crowding at the box stores. Secondly, if this is rejected, close down the box stores also.

The timeframe for completing the proposal and sending it on to the State is of importance to getting permissible options open soon. “We need to get open as soon as possible.” Straub added that small businesses don’t have the luxury of waiting.

Kling stated that he would finalize the proposal in the next couple of days so it can get out.

Jill Thompson said it was imperative to get signatures from the majority of the Board of Health before mailing the proposal out. She is looking for letters of support from:

  • The Board of Health’s approval;
  • County Boards of Commissioners;
  • Health Officers;
  • Hospitals;
  • Medical leaders;
  • Chambers of Commerce;
  • Sheriff’s Departments and Police Chiefs; and
  • Counties’ and Emergency Directors.

Following is some of the discussion during the 1.5 hour meeting.

Barry Kling, director of CDHD, told the board that new cases are predominantly Hispanic. Chelan County Commissioner Doug England asked it most of these new cases were asymptomatic. Kling replied that most of the tests are on individuals with symptoms, but that most of those people testing positive have recovered. “Everyone has recovered except for those who will die,” said Kling. “Out of the total numbers (268) almost all have recovered.” Dr. Butler also said, “My father who was a physician always said the cause of death was when the heart stopped pumping. I have no answer of how data has been recorded.” He added that as a physician, recovery is not something they commonly track.

Currently the total case count in Chelan and Douglas County stands at 269 with 219 of those positive cases being Hispanic and only 48 Non-Hispanic cases recorded. Wenatchee City Council member Ruth Esparza said she had one complaint that CDHD was avoiding ethnicity. “How are we going to provide the message to the Hispanic community,” she asked. She added that it is important to get the numbers out there and to educated the Latino community that they have to do things differently. “The newer generation is helping them understand why they need to do things different.”

Kling stated that he had a lot of feedback on that issue. “We are going to resume posting those figures in the Wenatchee World,” he said.

As of May 10, Chelan and Douglas County had six deaths ranging in age from 84 to 92 years old. Most of them had significant health related problems. One individual from Bridgeport died at the age of 69.

John Sterk, East Wenatchee councilman, said he had received concerns about tracking COVID-19. He mentioned that HR6666 has gone down in flames and that there is a lot of misinformation about tracking. “Can we get a message to the community that we are not doing intrusive tracking,” he asked.

Kling remarked that contact tracing has been going on for 150 years. “It really isn’t controlling anyone.” CDHD has been using volunteers, but will be moving to the state program because of confidentiality issues.

Marc Straub, Douglas County Commissioner stated that box stores were allowed to remain open and it that it makes sense to allow smaller retail stores to open because that would reduce over-crowding at the box stores. Secondly, if this is rejected, close down the box stores also.

The timeframe for completing the proposal and sending it on to the State is of importance to getting permissible options open soon. “We need to get open as soon as possible.” Straub added that small businesses don’t have the luxury of waiting.

Personal protective equipment in short supply… county and businesses want to move to Phase II opening

allthingslakechelan-banner-ad-hospital-x-1200

by Richard Uhlhorn

 Chelan businesses will have to rely on homemade masks for their employees when these businesses are allowed to reopen to the public. Historic Downtown Chelan executive director, Erin McCardle, asked Sgt. Kent Sisson, to point her in a direction where she can find masks and gloves. Sisson replied, “At this point we are going to have to rely on homemade masks.”

“How about gloves,” asked McCardle. Sisson said gloves were coming in and going out the door.

Sisson told the Leadership Response Team on its teleconference on Thursday afternoon that PPE deliveries were improving, but that when orders do come in, they are only 25% of what was ordered. “It’s very difficult to supply the public with N95 masks,” said Sisson. “It will be difficult to accommodate the public.”

Kari Grover Weir asked about hotels for quarantines. Sisson stated that they have contracted with a hotel in East Wenatchee and that it is not fully occupied. This is where the positive Stemilt workers were housed.

Joyous Van Meter, Regional Epidemiologist/Regional Emergency Response Coordinator, chimed in and said that there were currently 141 positive cases in Chelan County. “We are concerned that we are not seeing a decline in cases yet,” said Van Meter. “We don’t have testing and contact tracing  in place. We haven’t reached that point yet.”

New Horizons Updated Logo

Chelan Schools Superintendent Barry DePaoli said he was aware that some schools have graduation guidelines. “Will the County put out guidelines for graduation,” asked DePaoli. Van Meter replied that she didn’t know.

DePaoli said he is aware that Entiat High School is going to be allowed to use its football field for its 25 graduating seniors with 10 foot separation guidelines in place. “This has been approved by the Health District.”

DePaoli is concerned that with some schools opening up for graduation ceremonies is going to put undo pressure on other schools. “It would behoove us to have specific guidelines. We want to make some decisions soon. I just want some clarity on that.”

Van Meter stated that Chelan County has the 9th highest incidence of cases and Grover-Weir asked if she could talk about declining numbers. “We have not seen any decline,” said Van Meter. “We are seeing an acceleration of cases.” McCardle asked how the County can get to a decline. Van Meter replied that it was a good question.

EMS Director Ray Eickmeyer chimed in and asked, “Should we go by the amount of admissions to the hospital?” Van Meter replied that a very small percentage get admitted to a hospital.

McCardle asked Eickmeyer how many active cases the hospital has in house? Eickmeyer replied that they are not disclosing how many patients they have. “We are letting other public agencies disclose that.”

Manuel Navarro, Columbia Valley Health, stated that Confluence does not view the information as privileged and publishes on a daily basis. “This morning there were only four Covid cases in their hospital.” McCardle said, “Does that feel like it is overwhelming?” Eickmeyer replied that LCCH is not overwhelmed and are currently below capacity.

image description

Sgt. Chris Foreman, Chelan Division, said the Sheriff’s department is entering uncharted territory. “It is hard to forecast what Memorial Day is going to be like this year.” He reported that the Sheriff’s Department is putting some things in place but didn’t elaborate.

One thing will be the lack of outside law enforcement personnel in Chelan during the three day weekend. He did ask for reservation details from Campbell’s, Grand View and Lakeside Lodges. Lakeside, as of last week, had lots of vacancies for rooms. “We haven’t heard back from Campbell’s or the Grand View,” said Foreman.

In the past outside law enforcement personnel patrolled Don Morse Park and the downtown area. “We will be beefing up coverage of Don Morse Park,” said Foreman.

VIPLogo8x7

Grover-Weir said that Antilon Lake will remain closed for the weekend, but the Ranger District is still expecting lots of campers to be in the Valley.

Eickmeyer reported that the hospital and EMS are doing well. “We’ve seen an uptick in calls,” he said. He added that the hospital is preparing to open up for elective surgeries. “We are trying to be prepared for Wave 2,” said Eickmeyer.

Grover-Weir asked about patients that the hospital has that are quarantined at home. Eickmeyer replied that if they come down with Covid like symptoms, the hospital encourages them to come in before symptoms get serious.

Laura Schmidt, Columbia Valley Health, said they are getting more positives. “Quite a bit of asymptomatic are coming in, but quite a few are coming in with symptoms as well.” Christy Morris, CVH, said that the symptoms are mild. “We get their vital signs and some have oxygen levels that are low.” She encouraged them to come in if the symptoms get worse instead of waiting until it is serious.

Superintendent Barry DePaoli reported that the school district concerns are not academic at this time, but the social and economic health of their students. The district is also concerned about the emotional health of its staff and teachers and continues to provide professional development as much as possible.

DePaoli also reported that food services are going well and the district is serving more meals than they ever have. The District is exploring how they can honor their seniors for graduation this year. As for on-line schooling, DePaoli says they are getting 50 to 60 percent of their students on-line, but he expects that to drop when students go to work. “Across the nation, on-line schooling is at 30 percent,” said DePaoli.

“It certainly has been challenging,” said DePaoli. Chelan Fire Chief Mark Donnell asked what DePaoli would like from the fire district. “We will be going into summer and food services will be unavailable,” said Donnell.

DePaoli replied that the district is already thinking about food services and is working with Thrive and the Food Bank. “When we come up with a plan we will certainly reach out,” said DePaoli. Sgt. Foreman added that the Sheriff’s Department wants to do whatever it can to support the graduating seniors.

Kari Grover Weir reported that as a mother of a senior, she appreciates the efforts to recognize them at graduation.

She opened her weekly report that the District has no Covid cases in its employees. “By the end of the month we will have all of our firefighters in Entiat (40) and Chelan. “We have been working on how we are going to get masks and are trying to figure out our quarantine situation.”

The District is expecting an above normal fire potential this year. “It is pretty dire this year,” said Grover-Weir. “It is definitely a concern for us.” She also said that campgrounds may be open by Memorial Day and that trail heads may also be open.

Chelan_1200px_280px

Mike Steele reported that Chelan County Chambers have signed a letter in support of opening Douglas and Chelan Counties to Phase II immediately. “The protocols of the Governor’s guidelines are somewhat muddy,” said Steele. “We are finally looking to help businesses to interpret both the government’s and state guidelines. We can’t go another week or two or 12,” said Steele. “We are trying to deal with some of that.”

Manson Chamber President Debbie Conwell stated that this crisis has been quite a blow to the Manson business community. “Many are saying they will not open until they can go full blow,” she said.

She reported that this coming Saturday morning, May 9, that there will be a parade in downtown Manson for the Apple Blossom Royalty with the Manson Fire Department participating.

Chelan Fruit’s Jim Colbert reported that the rate of Covid infections has slowed and a number of employees are returning to work after testing positive. “We continue to educate on social distancing, but it has been kind of a challenge because of the realities of their life styles.”

Colbert also said that a lower crop of cherries might be a good thing for the packing houses in the midst of the Coronavirus situation, but kind of a bad spot for the farmers.

Mayor Goedde reported that after careful consideration the City has rescinded its order on STRs. Goedde is still unhappy that the Governor never addressed the people traveling back and forth from their primary residences and second homes. “The Governor wouldn’t enforce his order,” stated Goedde.

He also reported that Wenatchee’s Mayor Kuntz and he have signed a letter to move to Phase II immediately. “There is some risk and rewards,” said Goedde. “It comes to a point that mental health is going to be as bad as the virus.”

With regards to a citizen request that the City being an incident command team, Wade Ferris, city administrator, asked the team for their thoughts. “I think it is covered by what is going on here,” said Ferris. Donnell concurred and said the team is working under the Chelan County Sheriff’s Emergency Management team and that it meets all intent of the resident’s letter.

Goedde recommended that residents get their grocery shopping done before the Memorial Day weekend hits and then encouraged them to stay at home.

Response team updates for May 30…

image description
image description

by Richard Uhlhorn

EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT REPORT – Sgt. Kent Sisson

Emergency Management’s Sgt. Kent Sisson shared some good news with the Leadership Response Team.

He said that it appears the Farm Worker Housing tests in Douglas County was an isolated hot spot. “The good news is that at two other sites, we found no cases and no positives,” said Sisson.

According to Sisson, the State Emergency Operations Center (EOC)  is working on a plan of action of they are going to get tests out. “We still don’t have an answer or plan, Quite a few of us are frustrated.”

Emergency Management is only getting partial orders of PPE of what was requested.

He also stated that the Sheriff’s Department is checking on compliance and potential violations. Apparently there is a lot of social media comments that the Sheriff’s Department is doing nothing. “We have had 119 calls on the tip line (509.667.6985) and have responded to them,” said Sisson. He added that some people are just upset, but that the department is educating potential violators, and if they continue to violate, the Sheriff’s Department will take more serious action. “We are not ignoring violations. I wanted to put that out there.”

Chelan Councilman Ray Dobbs asked about the department’s enforcement. Sisson replied, “Our approach is to educate and then be more formal if needed with the last resort fining them.” He says they are seeing most comply after the first visit, but that some in the City of Wenatchee are not complying and are being investigated by the Wenatchee Police Department.

New Horizons Updated Logo

CHELAN-DOUGLAS COUNTY HEALTH – Joyous Van Meter

Meter is the Regional Epidemiologist/Regional Emergency Response Coordinator and was standing in for CDHD’s director Barry Kling. “As of last night (Wednesday, April 29) we had 186 cases with 11 new yesterday,” said Meter.

Chelan 7 Fire Chief Mark Donnell asked about testing for first responders. “It is definitely being discussed,” said Meter. “It is definitely a topic for the future.” Donnell asked about Antibody testing and Meter stated that the Health District is looking into it.

Kari Grover-Weir said she was interested in getting her fire fighters tested. “They working and living together and it makes sense to do that,” said Weir.

Weir also asked about the big spike at Stemilt. “Are we on a downslope now,” she asked. Meter said she wasn’t sure how that would play out. “From what I hear, the hospitals are leveling off… it is tricky because most are asymptomatic,” said Meter.

Laura Schmidt – CDHD stated that many of those tested positive are asymptomatic, but the District wouldn’t necessarily see them. “It is hard to show a curve of where we are at,” she said.

Schmidt also reinforced that Columbia Valley Health is working on restoring some of its “face to face” patient visits, but is also continuing to conduct telehealth conferences with patients. “We are keeping asymptomatic patients away from other patients,” she added. The district is focusing on appointment types.

Dobbs asked about compensation and whether or not it was the same as a face to face visit with a physician. Schmidt replied that there was compensation involved which is not the same but is comparable. The telehealth visits are HIPA compliant.

Schmidt also said that testing and contact tracing is increasing, particularly with any covid positive case handed to them, not just patients of Columbia Valley Health. “We are using our more highly experienced medical assistants,” she said.

CHELAN RANGER DISTRICT -Kari Grover-Weir

Weir stated that the Wenatchee National Forest trails and roads remain open, but all improved trail heads are still closed to keep people from congregating. “For the most part people are abiding by that,” said Weir.

She said the District is focused on fire response operating procedures to protect the area’s communities. All 24 Entiat Hotshots are now on board. Weir indicated that if there is a large fire this year, the community will not see the typical fire camp.

As for Memorial Day, Weir said that she doubted campgrounds would be open by then. However, the word is circulating on social media that the Forests are open and that college kids are encouraged to show up. “We’ve been getting a lot of calls about Memorial Day and we are telling people not to come,” said Weir.

Chelan_1200px_280px

CHELAN FRUIT – Jim Cobert

“We continue to build COVID virus barriers at our facilities. We’ve received some thermometers and masks for the upcoming cherry harvest.”

In an earlier conversation with Colbert by telephone, he said Chelan Fruit is not only building barriers, but are working on keeping workers safe. “We are offering masks and face shield for those who want them and trying to figure out how we will handle 200 people at lunch time.”

With the State Department of Health and Washington State Labor & Industries coming out with new regulations regarding agricultural worker housing, Colbert said cherry harvest is going to be very difficult. It normally takes place in early June.

The Leadership Response Team meets by teleconference every Thursday afternoon beginning at 1 p.m.

City Council hears financial update from City Finance Director

by Richard Uhlhorn

Steve Thornton, finance director at the City of Chelan gave a detailed but informal financial report to the City Council at its Tuesday evening Council meeting on how the Coronavirus pandemic might affect the City’s business.

DSC05980

Chelan Finance Director
Steve Thornton

Thornton said he is looking really closely to get a good feel of what the impact is going to be by the end of June. The City had a cash balance of $2,688,236 at the end of 2019 and budgeted its revenue at $4,427,697 in 2020. Thornton is predicting a 15 to20 percent revenue loss from sales tax and building department fees because of the pandemic. All other funds within the City need to be considered separately.

“We are taking a good look at our expenses,” said Thornton. He said there is about $200,000 in cost savings.

The street fund which is largely funded through property tax and fuel tax should be Ok. “We should be pretty good with our property taxes. They are a pretty stable source of funding,” said Thornton. Fuel taxes were budgeted at $90,000 but Thornton said that even if the City lost 50% of that funding to $40,000, it would weather that loss by putting the hiring of an engineer on hold and the purchase of a new truck on hold.

Thornton mentioned the Council passed ordinance that gives rate payers a deferral on their payments for water, sewer and sanitation. “We are not going to be charging late fees for April, May, or June and will not shut anyone off.” In July, the City will be sending out a blank repayment form asking rate payers who haven’t paid their utility bills, how they plan on repaying them within a five month period.

Councilman Tim Hollingsworth asked Thornton how many people were taking advantage of the no-pay program. Thornton replied that he doesn’t know and won’t until the end of the month when the majority of rate payers pay their bills. Hollingsworth predicted that a lot of people would be taking advantage of the deferral program.

Councilman Ray Dobbs asked if the recycling program is one that needed close watch and/or was a drain on the system. “It that another one of those areas we have to watch closely.” Public works director, Jake Youngren replied that recycling is very volatile and that the City is monitoring it consistently. Thornton added that the City is looking at the cost of disposal versus taking it to the land fill. “We budgeted a rate study to analyze our system.” Youngren said he was initiating that study soon.

The Parks Department is the one area that the City is feeling a major impact. With the RV Park and Golf Course shut down, it is bleeding money. “In April we received no income,” said Thornton. “That was painful for us.”

The Lakeshore RV Park earned the City $238,000 in April last year. “The RV Park pays a lot of bills for the parks,” said Thornton. It also transfers approximately $350,000 into the Capital budget. Last year, Thornton reported that the Parks Department earned $2.9 million dollars for the City and its parks. “Our budget this year was for $2,966,000. We don’t really know where this is going. Maybe in June we will see more of an uptick.”

At a previous council meeting the council asked the City for a Facebook page so it could get information out to the public in a timely manner. Peri Gallucci attempted to set one up, but ran into trouble with the complex process.

Gallucci told the Council that there was a lot more too it than she anticipated to legally protect the City and asked for help. “It is not something I have the capacity to do,” said Gallucci. She contacted Jenna Rahm, who has experience in this area.

Rahm told the Council that it is a great way to get information out, but that once you have a presence, you have to stick with it. “You are going to have people watching it and commenting,” said Rahm.

Councilman Peter Jamtgaard asked what percentage of municipalities have Facebook? Gallucci replied that most of them do and they are pretty popular.

The big question was whether a social media presence was even needed. Councilman Hollingsworth said he would prefer to hold off on this. “I find our website lacking in a lot of ways and would like to spend our resources on our website. It is a much safer way.”

Councilman Ray Dobbs replied during the conversation that the City wanted a way to get the word out. “The answer is you drop something out there (on social media) and link it back to the website.” City Attorney Quentin Batjar said that some thought is going to have to go into the policies for the page. Gallucci said they were looking at other sites. “It is not a dialogue… it is a way to get information out.”

Councilman Ty Witt entered into the discussion and said he could see the value of it, but that the City needs a website that is up to date. Dobbs said it would be a reader board for the City. “Facebook is an easy way to do it,” said Dobbs. Councilwoman McCardle said that that the City can’t expect people to know what they don’t know.

In the past, public notifications, as per law, would be published in the paper… people in the general neighborhood of the project would be informed with a letter and postings would go up in the neighborhood, but in reality, many people in the community complain constantly that they didn’t know that a development was proposed, i.e. Holiday Hills is an example. Facebook information would inform the public of City proposed actions.

City Council will hold its next meeting on May 12. The venue will be announced after more information is available concerning the Governor’s orders.

Hospital receives government funding

allthingslakechelan-banner-ad-hospital-x-1200

by Richar Uhlhorn

Lake Chelan Community Hospital has received $3.1 million from the SBA Disaster Relief Fund for rural hospitals and another $4.8 million loan which will have to be repaid. CFO Mike Ellis explained that both of these funding influxes have been set aside in case they are needed. The Hospital also received a $142,000 grant from the State of Washington from the State’s list of rural hospitals.

DSC08231

Hospital CFO gave a financial update to the Hospital Commission.

Ellis reported that cash on hand currently is equivalent to 22 days. They have been able to pay off their $350,000 Line of Credit. There is still a huge amount of money out there in Accounts Receivable. To help with collecting those funds, the Hospital is hiring a company named Resolution.

Resolution does not get paid unless they collect. Its fee is three percent which could add up to $100,000+ . There is apparently over $5 million dollars in Accounts Receivable out there. Resolution will supply two people for three months to help collect these receivables. “This contract is in our favor,” said Ellis. “They take all the risk.”

 

DSC05376

Hospital CEO George Rohrich wants to see the Hospital’s outstanding accounts receivable get under control. 

CEO George Rohrich stated that the hospital has to get its A/R under control. “We’ve got to get this fixed,” he said. Commissioner Mary Murphy asked how the Hospital can use this opportunity to develop its own in-house training. Rohrich replied that they would develop a process or procedure for this.

The Hospital had a net operating loss of $642,000 in March and Ellis said, “This is one of those months we expect a loss before summer.”

Salary and benefits are approximately $4.3 million, but is about $4 million now because salary and wages have not gone up. “Pretty much in every category we are below our budget which tells you again our volume is off.”

With regards to the SBA disaster relief funds, Ellis lauded the help of North Cascades National Bank and the hospital’s attorney. “We talked on Sunday night and by Monday we were able to get it done,” said Ellis.

There is another $80 billion coming from the government for hospitals and CEO George Rohrich said, “We haven’t seen the details of who gets what yet.”

The commission unanimously agreed to continue its Interqual Contract. Rohrich explained that the company provides a service that insures that when a patient is diagnosed, everything those patients need is documented. “It is a get out of jail card,” said Rohrich. “We send it and they (insurance companies) cannot deny… that is what the value is.” He went on to say that the service helps the doctors document and helps to stop denials for payment.

The commission approved Rohrich’s decision to add to the Hospital’s ZOOM contract without their approval. “We needed more than 25 and I deemed this as an emergency for our health care services. Approve it or I will fall on my sword,” he quipped.

The Hospital is working on its Network Security with a firm out of Colorado that has network engineers available 24/7 365 days a year to make sure that bad actors never access the Hospital’s servers. “It blocks foreign states like China and other countries fro accessing our network,” said IT Director Ross Hurd. “They are watching our network traffic and if they see something strange they will address it.”

Every new employee and employees are required to take a Cyber Security Training course.

The board agreed that a Succession Plan was needed and will develop a short term and long term succession plan with Rohrich/Gleasman/CNO Jaimie Minnock on the committee.

EMS LEVY:

DSC05371

EMS Director Ray Eickmeyer is requesting a $.39/$1,000 replacement levy in August that will run for 10 years.

EMS director Ray Eickmeyer said they would be requesting that voters approve a $.39 per thousand 10-year replacement levy in August. “It will provide capitial to replace old equipment,” said Eickmeyer. Gleasman asked if there would be enough in the levy to replace an old ambulance. Eickmeyer replied that it would.

For potential clients that are afraid to come to the hospital, Rohrich said that a campaign needs to begin that tells potential client patients that the Hospital and Clinic are the safest public buildings in the community. “We have staff to see people safely and to clean the space.

City Council agrees to purchase Spader Bay on a 5 to 2 vote

New Horizons Updated Logo

by Richard Uhlhorn

At last night’s City Council meeting, Mayor Bob Goedde opened the discussion on the purchase of the Spader Bay property that was approved by the City Council in 2019 with this comment; “I have made a stand on this. I am not going to sign the contract. It would be up to the Mayor Pro Tem to sign the contract.”

DSC08494

Mayor Bob Goedde announced prior to the decision to purchase the Spader Bay property that he would not be signing the purchase contract.

DSC08531

Spader Bay property as seen from the Chelan Ranger District.

With that comment, City Administrator Wade Ferris gave the Council members a short update on getting access through an easement to the property that had been an issue. “We had trouble getting access,” said Ferris. “We have worked something out with three different property owners.”

DSC00184

City Administrator Wade Ferris

Ferris also reported that Larry Lehmbecker, owner of Vin du Lac Winery is potentially willing to allow access through his property in the future. He then turned the discussion over the Guy Evans who is representing his family in the sale of the property.

DSC05378

Guy Evans represents his family on the selling of Spader Bay

Evans told the Council that he wasn’t sure how much longer his seller is willing to work on this because of financial issues that are cropping up. He also told them this was a once in a lifetime opportunity for Chelan. He called the purchase a risk free deal because the City is paying only half of the assessed value and could over subsequent years recoup that investment by selling the property and/or a portion of it.

Council members all chimed to the discussion with Peter Jamtgaard saying he had talked with 20 or so people on the street about the purchase and that they were unanimous in support. “This was done before I was on Council,” he said. He also talked with Lehmbecker and said he feels the purchase is a good opportunity for the City.

DSC09963

City Council member John Olson voted No on the
purchase of the Spader Bay property .

John Olson stated he has also had conversations with constituents, most of whom were against the purchase. This was done during his campaign to be elected to the Council. Olson has asked the Council to instigate Eminent Domain on the Three Fingers, but that the Council hadn’t listened to him. “Not all real estate actions are all positive,” stated Olson.

DSC09968

Councilman Tim Hollingsworth has been a major voice in supporting the purchase.

Tim Hollingsworth stated that he has supported this acquisition from the beginning and continues to support it. “I would like to point out that I’m not necessarily supporting this for me, but as a last piece of shoreline (available). It is a backdrop for people crossing the old bridge,” said Hollingsworth. “Our children and children’s children will find ways to utilized this property.” He said he had talked with Lehmbecker and thinks that there is a win-win situation in the purchase.

DSC09965

Councilman Ty Witt has also been a big supporter of the purchase.

Ty Witt is also on board with the purchase. He said that he had met with some principals at the Lookout and that a neighbor (Ken Friedman) is very interested in a collaboration to build a park on Lookout property above the property with ADA access. “It was just a conversation and was quite positive on the idea of something very positive. They are very interested in doing something on that bench.”

DSC09961

Councilman Ray Dobbs voted No on the purchase because he feels that the City does not have a functional easement to the property.

Ray Dobbs asked Witt why the Lookout hasn’t stepped up before this. Witt said he thinks the Lookout is approaching the saturation point with development and are very interested in adding a new park. “I was excited by that.”

Dobbs said, “We are creating an amenity for the Lookout, They are going to be the closest neighbors.” He went on to remark that the Council is getting to the end of a legal document. “I don’t think we have a very functional easement.” Dobbs added that if the Lookout was resolved to build a park right now, he would be excited.

“All of our world’s have changed,” said Dobbs. “This is a purchase that would be nice to have,” said Dobbs. However he stated he was against the purchase based on the easement.

DSC08510

Councilman Servando Robledo is another supporter of the purchase.

Servando Robledo told the Council that some people are very positive about the purchase and some are not. “It is not going to be usable right away,” he said. “It is an investment.” He finished by stating he was in favor of the purchase.

The Council voted 5 to 2 with both Dobbs and Olson voting no.

DSC05388

Councilwoman Erin McCardle has the been given the opportunity to sign the sales agreement on the Spader Bay Property because Mayor Bob Goedde is against the purchase and said he would not sign the contract.

So once the contract is signed, sealed and delivered, the City will own the Spader Bay property.

Agriculture Industry new hot spot for virus… CDHD working on testing

allthingslakechelan-banner-ad-hospital-x-1200

by Richard Uhlhorn

At Thursday’s virtual teleconference of the Chelan Leadership Response Team meeting, Barry Kling – Chelan-Douglas County Health District (CDHD) stated that Social Distancing has worked really well. “Our approach is to tell the community the truth of what is happening,” he said.

Kling said most of the positives have been asymptomatic. “We have a concern for farm workers… it is a critical industry in our area. We are working with the Ag. industry to formulate some plans.” The largest concern is the influx of an estimated 3,200 workers coming in for the upcoming cherry harvest.

The City of Chelan added seven more positives to its count over the last week, most of which Kling says is Ag. Worker related and members of their families.

Other concerns are for homeless shelters and the inmates at Chelan County Jail.

New Horizons Updated Logo

Chelan District Ranger Kari Grover-Weir asked if the Stemilt numbers reported earlier in the week would remain asymptomatic. Kling replied that some of those workers would likely develop symptoms. “We don’t have the answer to that. Those who do need a higher level of care will get it,” said Kling. He added that the CDHD is exploring the possibility of letting farm workers continue working even though they have tested positive, but are asymptomatic. “These people are feeling fine and want to work.”

Chelan Fruit’s Jim Colbert stated that he is receiving a lot of calls from growers who have licensed housing (not H2A housing). “Is there anyway to know how long they will be positive,” asked Colbert. Kling replied that the only way would be to retest.

Debbie Conwell – Manson Chamber, said she had some community members complaining about shoppers not wearing masks. Kling replied that there are no requirements to wear masks presently. “You should wear a mask when you go into a store. Masks reduce your risk a little bit, but not a whole lot.”

“By and large, people are doing a good job. We have a pretty high level of cooperation. It is an act of Love for other people in the community,” said Kling.

image description

Kent Sisson – Emergency Management (EM), said that the current hotspots for positive cases are the farm worker camps. “It will be a big operation to test,” said Sisson, but he added that testing kits are finally coming through and that EM did order an additional 1,000 kits. “Omak is the latest hot spot,” added Sisson. He also stated that the State would be picking up the cost of all orders after May 1. “I’m in the process of explaining the process to hospitals, fire departments and other agencies.”

Ray Eickmeyer – LCCH-EMS, said the hospital and clinic are doing well. “We are open to a significant surge, but I don’t know if we will see that,” said Eickmeyer. “It will be interesting to see what things look like in six months or a year from now.”

Eickmeyer also said the hospital has created a very safe place for people who are either contagious or not contagious. “I just want to make it clear that if you have symptoms other than Coronavirus, please don’t hesitate to call.”

“We are using artificial intelligence called WANDA,” said Eickmeyer. WANDA is an integrated proactive screening, remote care management, and multimodal telehealth platform that has been adapted to monitor patients remotely in their homes, using CDC symptom guidelines for COVID-19. The patients can then be monitored by clinical staff who may themselves be self-isolating, as well as clinicians working routinely. The COVID-19 program can be implemented alone or in combination with other programs for vulnerable patients.

Christy Morris – Columbia Valley Community Health, reported that CVCH is sending Coronavirus patients to their COVID hallway, but also said they are going to be losing three rooms to the construction company soon. “They will be tearing down a wall to connect to the new space,” said.

Kari Grover-Weir told the team that the District will be on boarding firefighters next week. “We have been doing a bunch of scenario planning for things they might need this summer to prepare,” said Weir.

The seasonal firefighters will live together and ride in the same trucks together. The District plans on keeping spacing in vehicles as much as possible and instead of 10 people in a vehicle, it will be reduced to six.

Jim Colbert said Chelan Fruit is overseen by state regulators and wondered if they will be held to a different standard than the Forest Service. Kling replied that during emergencies there are times for compromising.

Colbert added that most of the Co-Ops growers are not large and will be dealing with housing issues and social distancing issues. Kling again stated that the key is sending emergency workers out to an emergency which will put them under different standards. Colbert replied, “I get your point. Cherry harvest is like a wildfire.” Kling said, “I understand your feeling, but there are different standards for different situations.”

Mayor Goedde said that it has been a very busy week in Chelan. He has been dealing with the Construction issue and the issues of people traveling to Chelan who should be sequestering at home. “I’m asking the governor to expand on the stay home-stay healthy issue,” said Goedde. He is also receiving requests for interviews and television clips.

Goedde wants to make it clear that Chelan wants its visitor base to please stay home until this crisis is over, and then Chelan will open up and welcome visitors back to the valley.

Goedde said he has had meetings with Sgt. Chris Foreman regarding planning for Memorial Day. “What are our options… what kind of enforcement can we expect,” said Goedde. “It is so open ended that we don’t know where we will be.”

Goedde is on the LINK Board as the City’s liaison and said that LINK is considering reducing the number of riders to 10 on its buses and adding three buses to each route to serve the public. Goedde said the LINK is down 35 percent in ridership from about 4000 to 1200 per day.

Manson, Chelan and Entiat Fire Districts reported that they are doing well.

The Food Drive is continuing to May 1 and Eickmeyer said the hospital is challenging people to raise funding for the Food Bank. Councilman Ray Dobbs replied that checks can be mailed to the Food Bank at P.O. Box 2684, Chelan, WA. 98816.

The Food Bank served 175 families this past week.

Leadership team – April 16 meeting

allthingslakechelan-banner-ad-hospital-x-1200

by Richard Uhlhorn

At yesterday’s Leadership Response Team meeting, there were several items of interest for the Lake Chelan Valley community.

Sgt. Kent Sisson – Emergency Management, stated that the emergency management team is currently getting its PPE orders turned around. “Our staff is getting that turned around for agencies in dire need for PPEs (Personal Protection Equipment). We have a little stockpile left and are getting regular shipments in.” Gowns are becoming an issue. One vendor promised 4.5 million disposable gowns, but had to cancel because the raw material wasn’t available to produce them.

Sisson stated that the team is working on the reimbursement process for any public entity that is registered on the public assistance side. Fire Districts and School Districts need to register before the Drop Dead day. Even if your organization doesn’t use the system you are at least registered.

Barry Kling – Chelan-Douglas County Health District, stated that the area is fortunate because the critical care cases have not materialized. “Social Distancing is working,” he said. “It is working better than we hoped.” However, he stated that any loosening of the Stay At Home edict should not happen until more testing can be done on the public at large.

The State is testing health workers and first responders first. “It’s not that we need 50 percent more testing, we need 500 to 1000 percent more,” said Kling.

Kling also said the agency is working with Chelan County Commissioner Doug England on worker housing guidelines.

Regarding agricultural issues, Jim Colbert – Chelan Fruit, joined the team for the first time on Thursday and stated that they are battling Coronavirus and attempting to keep Chelan Fruit’s 650 employees safe. “We have reduced our workforce on the lines, expanded our lunch rooms and offered masks,” said Colbert.

Colbert also stated that Chelan Fruit does not transport employees, but that some of the co-ops mitigation procedures are a struggle. “How do you get five employees from climbing in to a car,” he asked.

His biggest concern for the shed is the addition of 900 people for the upcoming Cherry season. “Cherry packing is very challenging for us,” said Colbert. Cherries are a fresh product that needs to ship to the market immediately.

DSC09740

Chelan Ranger Kari Grover-Weir

Kari Grover-Weir asked how long the temporary influx of workers is. Colbert replied that all packer shippers work two 10-hour shifts per day. He added that it is a cross section of workers. “We have kids out of college working the cherries as a summer job.” He also stated that Chelan Fresh is just one of six packing sheds fighting over the same labor pool.

DSC08987

Superintendent Barry DePaoli

Superintendents Barry DePaoli and Matt Charlton said both of the District’s employees are working remotely. Depaoli also lauded the kitchen staff who are busy putting out meals for students to pick up. “We have served 4,996 meals,” said DePaoli.

Regarding the seniors, both DePaoli and Charlton said it was a difficult time for them and plans are in the works to celebrate them, however, DePaoli said they are still hoping to be able to hold a traditional graduation. Charlton replied that Manson is looking at ways to make graduation special for their seniors.

With regards to on-line teaching, DePaoli said, “Right now we have about 70 percent of our students engaged. We are going into a full court press to find out where the other 30 percent are. Some of them are working.”

DSC08992

Manson Superintendent Matt Carlton

Charlton said Manson Schools has ordered 30 hotspots from T-Mobile for students who don’t have an Internet connection.

Kari Grover Weir – Chelan District Ranger, told the team that its developed recreational sites are closed, but that the trails are open. “You just have to park along side the road,” said Weir. She reiterated that the District has shut down prescribed burning for Spring. The District’s employees are also working remotely and no employees have tested positive for the virus. “We are working on operational procedures for our seasonal employees,” said Weir. By May the Entiat and Chelan Districts will have full force hotshots on board.

DSC08676

HDCA director Erin McCardle

Erin McCardle – HCDA, said a number of businesses have applied for financial help, but no more applications are being accepted because funding has run out. She stated that representative Mike Steele is working hard with the SBA and the governor to get another round of financing available.

She said businesses are concerned about how long they can stay closed before they have to permanently close their doors. “We should have a pretty good view of what our businesses will look like in a month or two.”

DSC08622

EMS Director Ray Eickmeyer

EMS Director Ray Eickmeyer stated that the hospital and clinic are doing well. “The hospital is getting more PPEs. We’ve had a lot of people in the community giving masks and shield,” said Eickmeyer. He also reported that the hospital has emptied its third floor to be ready for any surge in cases. “We are ready to take on more patients. We are seeing increased amount of people with symptoms,” said Eickmeyer. However they are all being taken care of at their homes. “We don’t want to discourage people from seeking health care,” he said.

Eickmeyer also stated that the hospital is going to be launching a survey via telephone to all of its patients to find out if they have any symptoms at all. “This should show us some hot spots that we can give to CDCH.” They will be making those calls once a week to make sure they have everything they need.

Manuel Navarro – Columbia Valley Community Health, stated that they are in pretty good shape. “We are not in dire straights for anything. Business is steady.” As of Thursday morning, CVCH had tested 150 people with 14 testing positive. “We are focusing on agriculture worker camps,” he said.

CVCH is assuming a responsibility for contact tracing with all patients. This program starts with an individual and works out to all of his contacts he/she have been in contact with.

DSC03365

Sgt. Chris Foreman – Chelan Detachment

Sgt. Chris Foreman – Chelan Detachment, said that he didn’t have much to report. “There hasn’t been any real up tick with complaint calls from last week,” said Foreman. “We have had some confusion on our waterways and boating. Boating is allowed… fishing is closed. Doesn’t make much sense, but we are going with the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife.”

DSC05354

Fire Chief Arnold Baker – Manson Fire District

Fire Chief Arnold Baker – Manson Fire District stated that they were available and healthy. Fire Chief Mike Asher – Entiat stated that the case count in Entiat is extremely good. “We’ve had no aid calls last week.” Fire Chief Mark Donnell said Chelan7 has seen fewer EMS responses but an up tick in fire responses. “We had 23 fire calls since March. This fire season is going to be busier than a normal season”

DSC08668

Mayor Bob Goedde – City of Chelan

Mayor Bob Goedde – City of Chelan, proclaimed that Chelan was a hotspot for Coronavirus, claiming that percentage wise, Chelan has more cases than Wenatchee and/or East Wenatchee.

Goedde has released his Declaration of Emergency and is trying to figure out how to get Governor Inslee to recognize that people are not staying home but are driving back and forth from the Westside to their second homes with no concern about the residents in the Valley. “We’ve got a problem over here,” he stated.

The Leadership Response Team meets via teleconferencing every Thursday afternoon at 1 p.m. for agency updates on the Coronavirus situation.

Fire Department working to turn on siren

by Richard Uhlhorn

Chelan Fire and Rescue commissioners held their regularly scheduled meeting via telephone conference on Wednesday, April 15.

Several items came out of the meeting that are of real interest to the community.

Siren:

During commissioner comments, Russ Jones asked what the disposition was to turn the City’s Siren back on. Chief Donnell remarked that feedback has been positive. “If it is something we decide to do, it will only go off for multiple fire alarms (2 and 3 call fire alarms),” said Donnell.

Jones stated that he feels good about the alarm especially when residents are educated that it will only be used for second and third fire alarms.

Moller stated that without the old orchards protecting the town anymore, that the alarm would let people know that a serious situation is happening. Commissioner Oules stated that it is needed.

Fire Forecasts:

A part of that discussion about the siren included the upcoming fire season, which Donnell said was going to be interesting this season.

Assistant Chief Brandon Asher said, “Let’s move forward (with the siren), but Donnell interjected that there is a cost to getting it back into service. A radio will cost approximately $2,400 unless they district can use one of the radios out of the surplus vehicles. “That funding can come out of our RiverCom fund,” said Donnell.

The commission authorized the funding to get the siren back in service.

Currrent Operations:

Chief Donnell told the commissioners that the administrative staff is working from home until the COVID-19 crisis is over. “The crews are busy catching up with apparatus maintennace,” said Donnell.

He also stated that if any property owner wants a fire assessment on their properties to call the station and set up an appointment.

There were 57 incidents in March of which six were fires. “We seen a call decline,” said Donnell. “We’ve had a really good response to all of the fires we’ve had this year.” Response time is ranging between nine and 17 minutes depending on the location of the incident.

Assistant Chief Brandon Asher stated that the Districts have lost five volunteers for not maintaining training schedules. “No one came back and said they wanted to be on the Fire Department. It is a big hit,” said Asher.

He stated that the COVID situation has helped out and given some volunteers a chance to catch up on their training.

Fire Association Report:

Dan Crandall reported that the association has an ending balance of $45,547.00 after spending $5,971 this past month. The bid expense was for a storage shed at Station 71 that cost $3,000.00.  The association also purchased $3,600 worth of electronic equipment for Marine 71.

“We had an online vote to donate $3,000 to Thrive Chelan Valley so they could help provide food on their Friday night programs for Manson and Chelan,” Crandall said.

The annual Spring Pancake Breakfast has been cancelled because of the pandemic.

Unfinished Business:

Long Term Planning has been put on hold but Donnell will have a completed packet fo the commissioners to review soon. “We still have some time to work on this,” he said. “We might have some challenges coming up that we don’t know about yet that could affect it,” said Moller.

New Business:

The commissioners delegated the authority to the Fire Chief to declare an emergency when an emergency situation arises.

The commissioners heard about Incident 2020-129, Illegal Burning Invoice. The commissioners agreed to a $3,000 bill to Lake Chelan Tree Service who was fined for illegally burning two separate piles of debris. “We’ve had issues with him over the years,” said Donnell. He also stated that Fire Marshall Bob Plumb and the DOE agreed on the amount for the use of manpower and apparatus. “He has paid these bills in the past,” said Donnell.

Commissioner Oules said, “Put a stamp on the envelope and Jones said he had no problem with sending the invoice. out.

Shady Pass and Swanson Gulch Fires:

Donnell stated that the property owner at Shady Pass had opted not to annex into the Fire Department. He told the commissioners that he was sending a bill for $4,972 for manpower and apparatus with a suggestion to the property owner to opt into annexation which would be much less expensive than paying the invoice. “Bob Plumb agreed that it is a great way to get people into the fire department.”

Moller replied that it was a win-win for that property owner. Oules asked what the advantage of annexation was for a property owner. Donnell replied that it benefits the entire area where residents and property owners can share the wealth.

Jones was concerned about the cost to record the annexation if the property owner decided to do that. Donnell said the cost would depend on whether or not the land had been surveyed during the original annexation process. “I will let you know what the costs are.”

The Swanson Gulch Fire brought up some interesting facts. “I naturally assumed that fire was within the fire district,” said Donnell. It turned out that any fire west of Swanson Gulch is in No Man’s Land. “Because we are the agency that responds up there, there are only five I could annex in. Most of the others have no serviceable roads.”

Moller asked if these property owners paid a Forest Service Assessment Tax? Donnell replied they didn’t. “Believe it or not, they don’t pay for Manson or Chelan Fire.”

allthingslakechelan-banner-ad-hospital-x-1200