Link Transit seeks more funding to expand services

by Richard Uhlhorn

Richard DeRock, LINK’s administrator, gave the Chelan City Council an update on Link Transit operations.

DSC01897

The big news from DeRock is that there will be a new proposal on the ballot in August to raise Link’s share of sales tax up to increase the service it currently provides.

The 2019 revenue projections have 76 percent of Link’s revenues coming from Sales Tax with other revenues coming from Federal and State Grants (20%), Fares (3.5%) and other sources at a mere .4%.

Link serves 3,500 square miles in Chelan County with a total ridership exceeding 1 million riders for the fifth consecutive year.

DeRock stated that the service moves people over 550 miles a day or 2.2 million miles a year.  “That’s 17 million passenger miles,” said DeRock. They have 600 bus stops on the system serving 10 urban centers.

In 1999, Link cut Saturday services and then brought it back. The system averages 13 riders per run and the cost per hour to run the service is 25 percent lower than the State average. “We have worked hard to keep our costs low,” said DeRock.

Link has the largest percentage of alternative fueled transit fleet in the Pacific North West. It operates 42 propane powered buses resulting in a 16 percent reduction in green house gases, 99 percent reduction of other pollutants and has a 65 percent less cost than gasoline powered buses.

It also operates 10 battery powered buses with zero emissions at 1/2 the cost of diesel. Link also has the World’s first Wireless 200Kw vehicle charger.

“We went out and asked people what they wanted,” said DeRock. “Sunday service was the major thing asked and more Saturday service.”

The cost of the system to the average household is only $24.00 per year, or $8.88 per person.

Link does plan on running a shuttle from Walmart to Lakeside this summer from July 1 to September 1.

He was asked if Link provided transit services to Pangborn Airport and he replied that they didn’t because it wasn’t cost effective. “For the most part, airports don’t generate enough business to make it work,” he said.

They are also prohibited from providing services to Mission Ridge, but do donate services to the ski area.

Over the next six years, Link plans on funding the following projects if the voters approve an increase in local sales tax by 2/10 of one percent (2%). This means for every ten-dollar retail purchase, Link Transit would receive an additional two cents in sales tax:

 

  • Add Saturday service to all cities and towns
  • Add Sunday service to all cities and towns
  • Begin service earlier in the mornings
  • Operate later evening servic on some routes until 12 a.m.
  • Faster service between Chelan and Wenatchee
  • Expand coverage to reach more areas
  • Smaller buses in residential neighborhoods
  • More frequent service on major arterials in urban areas
  • Cost effective rural services.

PUD representatives were also on hand to discuss the PUD’s Regional Area Planning efforts and Lake Chelan Lake Levels.

DSC01914

Jenna Rahm told the Council that the PUD was holding a public meeting to discuss the Chelan Dam Substation plan. “We are currently looking at our own property, “she said. In addition, the PUD is looking at a Fire Hardening Project that would entail replacing wood transmission poles with steel poles. “Basically, the fire would go right through the area,” said Rahm, who added, “We would be able to turn off the power and when the fire goes through, turn it back on.”

DSC01918

John Wasniewski told the Council that there was a lot of information on lake levels on the PUD’s website. This year’s snow pack is only 70 percent of normal. The annual spill will be a lot less than in a normal year.

Councilman Ray Dobbs asked if the PUD would still hold its weekend for the kayakers in the Fall. Wasniewski replied that they would still hold that event.

DSC01937

City Council meets every second Tuesday and fourth Tuesday of the month. The public is encouraged to attend.

 

 

Mayor Cooney and Council ask Sheriff’s Department to help work on law enforcement issues

 

Chelan_1200px_280px

by Richard Uhlhorn

The City of Chelan held a Special Workshop on April 6 of this year which included a quarterly report from Sheriff Brian Burnett and his staff including Sgt. Chris Foreman, the head of Chelan’s force.

DSC07575

The Sheriff’s Department administration came under scrutiny by the City Council at a recent City Retreat where the Sheriff provided a quarterly report for being overly ambitious with traffic stops.

At that meeting, a discussion centered around the activities of the patrol deputies. With traffic stops up approximately 40+ percent, community members have been complaining to their council members of perceived and unnecessary harassment which has also included a stop on a sitting Council member who was not just stopped but checked for Driving under the Influence even though this person hadn’t been drinking.

DSC07605

Sgt. Chris Foreman is in charge of Chelan’s law enforcement duties.

After much discussion at the April 6 special meeting where a lot of comments were made by Council regarding the number of stops, particularly those stops that do not result in arrests or tickets, the City has responded to the Sheriff and Sgt. Foreman with a letter outlining the City’s wish to have the Sheriff’s Department meet Chelan’s goals for policing.

DSC07574

Sheriff Brian Burnett attended the meeting on April 6.

“To sum up the input at the retreat, I think there was support for more marine patrol, greater officer presence in a proactive manner and less emphasis on the sheer number of traffic stops,” wrote Mayor Cooney.

001-Mayor Cooney

Mayor Cooney, City Administrator Mike Jackson, Chelan City Clerk Peri Gallucci and the entire City Council signed the letter to the Sheriff’s Department.

He continued with: “In furtherance of those goals, the City would like to see a reallocation of resources from traffic patrol to marine patrol in the summer months W’e also like to see a greater presence of officers on foot or on bicycle in the downtown area as opposed to focused traffic stops. We’d like more interaction with citizens with patrol through neighborhoods, parks, ball fields and other areas where traffic is not the focus.”

In addition, Mayor Cooney’s letter was copied to the entire City Council, City Clerk and City Administrator, and said the City would like to see presentations by the Sheriff’s Department to the public on topics such as crime prevention, neighborhood safety, active shooter drills, boating and swimming safety and other topics of community interest.

Mayor Cooney also stated that the City’s not having an influence on “our police services to match our expectations for Chelan.”

The City does recognize the balancing act that the Sheriff’s Department provides with the proper amount of law enforcement activities, and it does respect the role of law enforcement and the department’s responsibility to provide public safety.

In the end, the letter states that the City wants to work together for a balance, and is willing to discuss working towards a future plan that works, not only for public safety, but for the community at large.

Mayor Cooney finished by writing, “I also feel it would be beneficial for us to work together to plan a future ‘Town Hall’ meeting on Chelan Law Enforcement that could cover a variety of topics.”

 

Hospital forum draws 110… 1300 more have watched the live stream

allthingslakechelan banner ad-hospital x 1200

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.

DSC01312
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”

DSC01315
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.”

DSC01321

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.”

DSC01337

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.”

DSC01330

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.

DSC01342

Sanctuary Director Jane Jebwabney

Jebwabney said that a psychiatrist would be available if needed at the hospital. “We will have access to a psychiatrist.”

DSC01346

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.

DSC01351

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:

  1. What would you like to see addressed/changed for the next Forum?
  2. What topics about the hospital do you have that were not addressed tonight?
  3. 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.

 

Brush disposal days start this week

by Richard Uhlhorn

Mike Cushman from Cascadia made a presentation to City Council at its April 23rd Council meeting regarding Cascadia’s collaboration with the City for the upcoming Brush Disposal Days between 10 a.m. And 5 p.m. on May 3 & 4 and May 10 & 11 at the Chelan Transfer Station.

Trees and brush up to 12 inches in diameter and eight feet long will be accepted. Not accepted is rock, plastic, grass, root wads, weeds or construction materials.

Cushman also stated that Cascadia will send a chipper to outside locations, but those requesting that service need to sign up on Cascadia’s website (www.cascadiacd.org

So far Cascadia has helped 22 landowners on 21 acres of land.

Also, if you are concerned about how safe your home is from Wildfire, Cascadia and Chelan Fire & Rescue will assess your property and give recommendations.

For more information property owners can call Cushman at 509.436.1601 or by Email at mike@cascadiacd.org.

Will Kirby from Gray & Osborne gave a short presentation on the mandated City’s Water Use Efficiency Goals.

DSC00063-Kirby
Will Kirby – Gray & Osborne

Councilman Ray Dobbs said, “It talks about educating customers once a year. Do we have a plan?”

Public Works Directo Jake Youngren replied, “If we don’t, we will.”

Dobbs replied that if he could see what his water use was last April and could compare it with this April,he would know he was on track at being efficient.

003 Ray Dobbs
Councilmember Ray Dobbs

Mayor Cooney asked Youngren what the City is doing? Youngren replied, “We are constantly tracking water and replacing (old) lines.” He stated that the crews are replacing old galvanized steel lines and other old infrastructure as the Public Works Department comes across it. “New infrastructure impacts our water efficiency.”

Mayoral candidate Stan Morse brought up some water related history from 2004 and 2005 when Chelan was 10,000 gallons short. “Is there an update from Ecology,” asked Morse? He asked if developers were paying a fee and whether or not G & O has assessed an increase or decrease in water usage including untreated water for recreational uses.

Kirby replied that G & O has met with the Plaaning Department and Public Works and have estimated usage based on projected population growth through the year of 2020 when allowable connections go down.

The Planning Department is going through its Small Cell Code Revisions based on one letter from the Federal Communications Commission that will allow 5 G buildout. There is an obvious health concern over 5G cell towers… So much concern that the Bay Area has blocked 5G deployment over cancer concerns from electromagnetic fields. “We can’t regulate for health effects,” said Craig Gildroy, Planning Director. “We have to allow it. We are just revising our code for the small wireless (small cell).” Gildroy also said the city can only charge reasonable $250 fees for each cell site.

002 Kelly Allen
Councilwoman Kelley Allen

Councilwoman Kelley Allen stated that the FCC Order is taking a lot of the City’s authority away. “We don’t know how it’s going to shake out.” With an April 29 deadline, the council was forced to act on the issue. “The Planning Commission has recommended approval,” said Gildroy. The downtown area on Woodin Avenue has to go through the HDCA for new pole locations,

DSC00079
Jason Verduzco -Verizon

Jason Verduzco from Verizon Wireless said there is a lot going on within Verizon on 5G. “I’m here as a resource,” he said. Mayor Cooney asked him if he got the difficulty of putting small cell towers on poles? “I get it,” he replied.”Each carrier have their own network. Putting carriers on one pole… Many don’t want to do that.”

Allen said her concern was health. “Is there any way to limit the number of poles in the community?”

Councilman Tim Hollingsworth said that despite the health concerns, if the City doesn’t pass the ordinance the City is giving up whatever control they do have.

DSC07592
Councilman Tim Hollingsworth

The council voted 5-1 with Councilwoman Wendy Isenhart voting No. Erin McCardle was absent from the meeting.

City Council unanimously gave Lakerider Sports a three-year agreement to continue to operate at Don Morse Park as a concession but didn’t agree to give him additional storage space.  They effectively reduced the amount of money he pays the City each year because of the smoke-filled season last year that negatively impacted the bottom line of the business. Lakerider rents paddle boards and kayaks.

City Council and the City were hit with new legislation on prevailing wages. The change will impact the City to a tune of $57,413.44 or a 300 percent increase in wages being paid to workers on the Lakeshore RV Park Irrigation & Electrical Improvements job.

“We are obligated to pay (by law),” stated Public Works Director Jake Youngren. “It caught everybody by surprise.”

DSC00093

“It really jumped 300%?”
Councilman Ty Witt

Allen asked what would happen if the City didn’t move forward. “What are the ramifications,” she asked. City Attorney Quentin Batjer replied that the City was obligated to honor the change. Witt quipped, “It really jumped 300 percent?” Hollingsworth added, “Its kind of the second thing in a row we are getting stepped on by the big boys.”

The changes in wages are posted below.

Trade Prevailing Wage (8/21/18) to the new Prevailing Wage (9/19/18) percent Change:

  • Landscape Irrigation Installer $12.00 to $33.85 per hour – 282%
  • Landscape Operator $14.00 to $59.49 per hour – 424%
  • Truck & Trailer Driver $19.45 to $43.40 – 223%
  • Asphalt Truck Driver $15.02 to $43.40 – 288%
  • Truck Driver (Other) $11.50 to $43.12 – 375%

The City Council approved a $7500.00 expenditure that was already in the budget to hire a consultant to look at the existing Skate Park and to focus primarily on the design of a Pump Track that will cost an estimated $300,000 to $600,000 to construct depending its size and complexity. This is a future parks project and the issue will be brought back to the Council at their May 14 Council meeting.

Kelly Allen remarked that Leavenworth, which already has world class pump track in place will be hosting the Red Bull World Pump Track Championships on May 26.

Mayor Cooney asked how much the City of Leavenworth spent on their pump track. Hollingsworth added that, “We want to make sure we have public support for this. What community support is out there and where are we going to build it.”

Allen said a pump track wouldn’t take up a lot of space and it would help keep our youth local.

DSC00100

Wendy Isenhart will not be running for re-election, leaving her seat open to a newcomer to the City Council

During Council Comments, Wendy Isenhart said she would not be seeking re-election to the City Council. “I am not running for anything,” she said. “I have had a wonderful time… it’s exciting and you get to meet intelligent people. You are creating and making possible government by the people,” added Isenhart. She encouraged someone to step up and run for her seat on the council.

The next City Council meeting in on Tuesday evening, May 14 beginning at 6 p.m.

New hospital downsized significantly over the original proposal passed by voters

allthingslakechelan banner ad-hospital x 1200

by Richard Uhlhorn

District Forum for the Hospital
will include Board Presentations
and a Question & Answer Session
at 
5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
Wednesday, May 8
at the Chelan Senior Center

The Lake Chelan Community Hospital Board of Directors heard from CEO Steve Patonai at its board meeting on Tuesday, April 23rd on the projected space allocation for the new hospital. The voters had agreed to a 77,000 square foot facility, but according to Patonai, that has been scaled back to 54,000 square feet.

DSC09907

Hospital CEO Steve Patonai gave the Hospital Board a presentation on new space considerations at the new hospital.

The new space consideration does not include moving the Clinic to the new campus. That according to Patonai will happen sometime in the future. “There was a lot of process to go through on the Clinic/Outpatient at the campus. We couldn’t make it work.”

The new hospital will have 21 beds (as opposed to the 25 beds in the current hospital.), two operating rooms, a procedure room, seven emergency department rooms and one triage room. “That is a broad summary,” Patonai told the board.

The 21 beds will include nine beds for hospital patients, 10 beds for sanctuary patients and two additional beds that can be used for either the hospital or Sanctuary.

What will not be at the campus is the Clinic in the hospital building or EMS Services. “We will talk a little bit more about that,” said Patonai. “We want it on site close to the facility.” Also the business office will be located elsewhere.

Commissioner Mary Signorelli asked what the timeline was for bringing a proposal to move the clinic to the campus. Patonai said there were ongoing discussions with the developer of building a clinic at the campus.

The cost of the new facility is $43.9 million which is $600,000 less than that $44.5 million available. Commissioner Jordana LaPorte asked about potential monetary problems, or what happens if something goes wrong. Patonai said, “They believe there is enough contingency available.”

DSC07685

Hospital Board member Mary Signorelli brought up the fact that the new hospital would have a lot less space than originally planned.

Signorelli remarked on the space allocation. “We are significantly lower in square feet than was originally planned. I hope the public understands that we are building the most efficient facility we can.”

The commissioners accepted the program Patonai laid out for them at this meeting.

Board Chairman Phyliss Gleasman said a special meeting would be scheduled to meet with the architect and contractor within the next week or so.

 

Chelan Fire & Rescue to hold Town Hall

Chelan_1200px_280px

by Richard Uhlhorn

Chelan Fire & Rescue Town Hall
Thursday, May 30 at
6 p.m.
Chelan Senior Center

Chelan County Fire District No. 7 commissioners made a decision to not run a Tax Levy until 2022. The District loses $220,000 in Safer Grant funding at that time and sees a need to increase its tax base by an estimated $.20 cents to $.25 cents per thousand to continue the level of service they are currently providing.

DSC07686

Chelan Fire Commissioners decide on Town Hall meeting to discuss levys.

The Commissioner decided that it would be smart to get way out in front of that issue by holding a Town Hall style meeting to explain why new funds will be needed long before they attempt to pass a levy. The Town Hall has been scheduled for Thursday evening, May 30 beginning at 6 p.m. at the Senior Center.

Fire Commission Chair Russ Jones said he hopes that the District can enhance its response time after the drowning near First Creek. “There was a Fishing Derby going on at the time and a number of fishermen responded including an off-duty firefighter,” said Jones. The body was recovered in 30 to 35 feet of water.

Response time will increase significantly when the new Fire & Rescue boat is put into service in June. “The engines are on the transom,” said Jones “We are replacing some of the cabling and looking at technology that will help us find somebody underwater.”

dsc04874 defender

Chelan Fire & Rescue’s new boat should be on the water by June.

That technology might include a modern fish finder or side scan sonar system. “It is going to be a matter of time to get it built up to do all the things we want it to do,” said Jones.

The commission agreed to a request by Jones to allow him to participate in marine operations as a volunteer without pay. He is currently the only member of the District that is certified to operate the boat. Commissioner Phil Moller said, “There is no objection on my part.” Commissioner Witherbee added that there were no glaring reasons not to let Jones volunteer.

allthingslakechelan banner ad-hospital x 1200

Chief Tim Lemon and Deputy Chief Mark Donnell are picking up and driving the new ladder truck back to Chelan from Alabama. They left on Sunday, April 21 and anticipate the drive back will take five days.

With Lemon volunteering it will save overtime pay for a fireman to pick the truck up. “I’m the only one who had a clear schedule,” said Lemon.

The District’s AFG-SCBA Compressors are up and capable of filling bottles.

DSC07689

Deputy Chief Mark Donnell (right) and Assistant Chief Asher gave reports on volunteers and training.

Deputy Chief Donnell reported that the District attracted 31 recruits in 2018 with 12 of them being in Chelan. “It takes $7200 to put a person on the street,” said Donnell. Moller replied that kids today seem to not be into long term commitments. “The industry has to change. What can we do here,” he asked?

Fire Chief Tim Lemon reported that funds from the tax rolls are beginning to come in. “Nothing real significant,” he said. He also mentioned that the District is subject to a Federal Audit and that RiverCom is looking at an increase of 1/10th% increase in its tax.

DSC07692

Chief Lemon reports on the District’s activity which included 69 calls in March.

Lemon reported that the District had 69 calls in March which is the second highest in 10 years. In the Urban area the District is responding within four minutes and response time is a little longer in the Suburban and Rural Areas.

Chief Donnell reported that training has produced more personnel for duty out on the line. Five volunteers have attained certification as Firefighters; one has received Hazmat certification and two have received other certifications.

Assistant Chief Asher reported that the District’s Stipend percentages are up to 89% in April. “We are seeing an increase and improving,” he said.

Wildland firefighting training will be taking place in Entiat and Asher stated that the volunteers are going to get a good introduction to it.

Dan Crandall reported on the Fire Fighter Association. He said they had received a Thank You note from the Foodbank for the $500.00 donation and one from Amy davis at the Chelan Valley Pride for the associations support.

Crandall also reported that the Association has provided a family in Orondo with a $1,500.00 donation after their home burned down.

The next Fire Commission meeting will be on May 15 at 3 p.m. The public is encouraged to attend.

Lake Chelan Hospital to hold Town Hall

allthingslakechelan banner ad-hospital x 1200

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.

DSC07673

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.”

DSC07685

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.”

DSC07682

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.”

DSC07676

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.