The ‘Vote No on the Hospital Bond’ group held a meeting at Campbell’s Resort on Wednesday, March 8, 2017. Some members of the ‘Citizens for a New Hospital Now’ group, including Lake Chelan Community Hospital Chief Medical Officer Ty Witt and Guy Evans, were invited to attend to hear a presentation by Mike Sherer. Sherer’s presentation was about alternative options in place of building a new hospital. Evans was told he could invite 5 – 10 individuals from the ‘Citizens for a New Hospital Now’ group to the meeting.
Sherer’s presentation was offered as opinion and not a group statement by the ‘Vote No on the Hospital Bond’ group. The presentation included research conducted by Sherer, thoughts on what is wrong with the new hospital proposal, and his new vision for the community’s healthcare.
“I invited Guy [Evans] because I felt that having everything above board was important,” Sherer said.
The presentation’s purpose was “to thoroughly evaluate the new Lake Chelan Community Hospital (LCCH) proposal, identify ground truth regarding facts and provide a conclusion regarding future healthcare for the Chelan/Manson communities.”
Sherer explained that, according to his research, the current hospital is $7 million dollars in debt and that the proposed bond would increase that number to $29.5 million.
“The people of Chelan/Manson are being asked to embrace a 35-year, $22.5 million USDA mortgage, based on projected new revenues,” Sherer wrote.
The presentation concluded with Sherer’s plan, should the hospital bond be voted down. Sherer recommended six steps to develop a larger hospital footprint at Lake Chelan Community Hospital’s current location:
- Purchase or condemn property on the west side of the hospital access road all the way to Gibson avenue and as far as Bradley street. Move/recycle as many of the houses as possible.
- Construct high retaining walls around the foot of the cleared/acquired property, backfill with cut material from around the back of the hospital, engineered compaction of lifts of fill material, and level out the fill area approximately even with the base of the current administrative lot.
- Construct a helo landing pad and parking on the new fill area. Construct a new Chemical Treatment Facility near the back of the present hospital and connect it in such a way to remain supported by Medicare.
- Move the entire hospital Chemical Treatment Facility on the 3rd floor to the new addition to the hospital building.
- Expand current hospital operations, administration, therapy, inpatient care, etc. as necessary using the new space available on the 3rd
- Systematically rebuild and renovate the remainder of the hospital and the infrastructure.
“I think it would be best now, we have given you an opportunity to hear the presentation, I think it would be best if Guy [Evans] took his guests and departed,” Sherer said, when asked if he would like to take questions.
A member of the ‘Vote No’ group and Chelan County PUD Commissioner Ann Congdon said, “I thought this was a public meeting, so therefore I invited Casey [Masey] from the Wenatchee World and Jillian [Foster] from GoLakeChelan.com.”
“Is this the feeling of the group?” Congdon asked, as anyone not affiliated with the ‘Vote No’ group was asked to leave after Scherer’s presentation concluded. “I think transparency is really important for everybody. I’ll do whatever the group wants, but I’d rather see everyone stay,” Congdon said.
“I am a resident from Manson and wanted to hear both sides, but I am assuming I am not invited to stay,” community member Kathy Ross stated.
“If you think you could be convinced one way or the other, then you should stay,” said a member of the ‘Vote No’ group. No questions were permitted in regards to Scherer’s presentation.
After leaving the meeting, members of the ‘Citizens for a New Hospital Now’ group that included community members and a few hospital employees, gathered to discuss the issues brought forward in the presentation.
In response to Sherer’s statement that the current hospital is $7 million dollars in debt, Wendy Griffiths a Lake Chelan Community Hospital Foundation Board member stated, “We don’t even get our money from the feds until April. That’s deceptive. We are in fine financial shape.”
“For a critical access hospital to spend this many years in the black, we are one of the best in the state,” Dr. Witt added.
Witt expressed that the public is welcome to attend both the informative meetings arranged by the ‘Citizens for a New Hospital Now’ group and the Lake Chelan Community Hospital Board of Commissioner meetings.
“As a new resident, what I would like to see is the two groups together in an exchange,” Kathy Ross commented while leaving. Ross was permitted to stay in the meeting.
Witt described some discussions that are taking place about having a public forum that would include the two opposing groups, but all of the details have yet to be confirmed. GoLakeChelan.com will continue to follow this story and provide updates.
(By Jillian Foster)