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Hospital Board of Commissioners views renderings of proposed new hospital, hears quarterly reports

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Lake Chelan Community Hospital CEO Kevin Able explains artist renderings of the proposed new hospital to commissioners on Feb. 21, 2017. (Photo by Jillian Foster)

The Lake Chelan Community Hospital (LCCH) Board of Commissioners met in regular session on Feb. 21, 2017. Among the topics covered on the agenda were an overview of artist renderings for the proposed new hospital and the state of the hospital address from officers.

LCCH Chief Executive Officer Kevin Able presented artist renderings of the proposed hospital which will go to citizens for a vote on April 25, 2017.

“These are renderings, there is nothing finalized,” Commissioner Mary Signorelli explained. “There are going to be some changes before it’s completed. We have not gone to blueprints.”

The preliminary site plan includes covered drop-off areas for both the main entrance and ambulances and a healing garden with an adjacent area for future expansion and an addition for a possible future Lake Chelan Clinic.

Artist rendering of the emergency entrance of the proposed new hospital. (Courtesy of LCCH)

“It will take the people who actually use the building to tweak it a little more, and that’s important that they get to voice their opinion,” Signorelli said of allowing the LCCH staff to contribute to the site plan prior to moving forward.

Able went on to give a report on the Safety Dashboard which is a quarterly report that gages the hospital’s performance in comparison to other critical access hospitals.

Overall, the hospital scored better than average compared to other facilities with exception of one area. Frequency of needle pricks, which was an issue mentioned in the previous quarterly report, was reported as higher than average.

Artist rendering of the main entrance of the proposed new hospital. (Courtesy of LCCH)

“What are we doing about a correction action plan?” Commissioner Mary Murphy asked.

“We looked into new needles,” said Vernita Nolan, nursing manager for LCCH. “The way they work now is that they fold up, and unfortunately the needle is still accessible. There has been investigation into a different kind of needle capping system.”

“It would be good to try something new since this seems to be a chronic problem,” Murphy recommended.

Able followed up his reports by thanking Nolan for her years of service to the community. Nolan announced her retirement and that Courtney Wallace would replace her.

“She has done a wonderful job here with our quality group,” said Able. “I genuinely appreciate the work she has done here. I want to publicly thank her in front of the board.”

LCCH CEO, Kevin Able (pictured far left) thanks Nursing Manager, Vernita Nolan (pictured far right) for her years of employment following the announcement of her retirement. (Photo by Jillian Foster)

“It has been my privilege to work for this hospital,” Nolan stated.

The next meeting of the LCCH Board of Commissioners is scheduled for March 28, 2017 at 5:30 p.m. Board Meetings are normally scheduled on the fourth Tuesday of each month at 5:30 p.m., unless otherwise noted. They are held in the hospital board room at 503 E. Highland Avenue in Chelan, Washington.

(By Jillian Foster)

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17 Comments on Hospital Board of Commissioners views renderings of proposed new hospital, hears quarterly reports

  1. If the commissioners and managers of LCCH spent more of their time and the taxpayers money maintaining the present building there would be no need to even consider building this new structure. 1.5 million per year from the taxpayers to provide us with a hospital, and the empire builders have seen fit to defer maintenance and buy property for a new building that can not even get a unanimous vote on their own board. Three times this building which is 1.75 times the size of the present structure has been turned down by the voters and the commissioners have ignored the will of the people. VOTE NO, insist that the commissioners spend the tax money to preserve, upgrade, and protect our present hospital structure.

    • Bill – In your comments you continually overlook one important factor. The cost of bringing the current facility up to code would cost the taxpayers more money than building a completely new facility. You seem to be operating under the assumption that maintenance on our current hospital is overlooked and pushed aside in favor of attempting to work towards a new facility. This idea is not only completely incorrect, but somewhat ignorant, and either formed on completely fabricated opinions of your own or total misinformation. As a healthcare facility, the hospital undergoes frequent inspections by the state and department of health. The team there is continuously making what improvements they can and updating wherever possible. Our hospital is currently ‘grandfathered in’ to several short-comings on codes that the department of health continues to allow us to bypass; mostly because they know enforcing all of these would shut us down entirely. We cannot expect this leniency to continue on forever, and much of the changes that would need to be made are simply not possible in the current location. As mentioned by other readers, our site is land locked which makes expansion nearly impossible, and updates to the current structure are even more costly than a completely new hospital altogether. I understand that you want to preserve the history and small town feel of the hospital that we’ve had for so long. But at some point, the lives of our patients and quality of the care we provide need to come before the impulse to be set in our ways. We often hear the discussion centered around tax dollars; or as you mentioned, a small increase of cost to a glass of wine. But how can we value these things above the care of our neighbors and our families? Not many people have had the experience of giving every single ounce of effort in them to save the life of another person; or reflecting back on the loss of a patient only to wonder if the resources were different or the limitations were gone that they could have reached a different outcome. Not many people have tried and failed to provide privacy to a grieving family who is actively watching their loved one pass because there aren’t any more open beds and a second patient has to be placed in the same room. Not many people have had to watch an elderly patient be sent to Spokane or Seattle, 3 hours away from their family because our census was full and Central in Wenatchee had no openings either. These are the things that weigh heavy on the hearts of the people who work at Lake Chelan Community Hospital. These are the reasons that we strive to educate our community and continue to ask for a vote for a much needed new facility. It’s not about empire building at all. There is no empire to be built here, there is no hidden agenda to trick the people of our town into voting a certain way. There is only a genuine need, and a genuine passion to see the people of our valley cared for at the highest level that we can provide. We owe our community this service. We owe it to those that raised us and did the best they could, and we owe it to our children to leave them with a good healthcare system in place. Allowing our hospital to shut down would be a tragic outcome; and would leave a tremendous void in our community. Let’s save our hospital and save our town from this loss. Vote yes for the new hospital.

  2. LCCH is doing a disservice to the community with their claims of what this new tax will cost the citizens. In only mentioning the increase in property taxes they dismiss the overall tax, i.e. every business in town will have to raise their prices to offset this new tax. Everything from rent to a glass of wine will have to rise to offset the 20 million dollar tab for a new hospital. This is in a town that already has high prices compared with other nearby towns, and it directly affects those of us who live here year around. On the other front, where do you think all those hospital employees are going to shop after they get out of work, right next door at Walmart and Subway, downtown will suffer. VOTE NO, SAVE THE DOWNTOWN, maintain what we have, don’t try to compete with Confluence Health.

    • Bill- The citizens of Chelan already pay more for other infrastructure services in the community. If the levy passes, the other services will still be more in taxes than a hospital. All are important to the health, safety and education of community. There is no evidence that the prices of goods in Chelan, if the bond passes, will increase. To make a statement inferring that is trying to scare the citizens of the community. There is also no evidence that the people who visit the hospital and the employees will change their shopping or eating habits if the hospital is moved. It is not like the hospital is located in the heart of downtown. In fact, there will be easier access to and from downtown if the hospital is relocated. Finally, the hospital does not want to, nor will it ever, want to compete with Confluence Health. There is an excellent synergistic relationship that will only be enhanced with a new facility. VOTE YES FOR IMPROVED HEALTHCARE LOCALLY FOR CHELAN!

  3. Bill- The problems with the building and the need for a new facility have nothing to do with the maintenance of the current structure. The need has everything to do with the current structure’s layout and lack of inexpensive upgradable capabilities. The proposed facility will be significantly larger which will lead to better patient privacy, infection control and dignity for the patients and your fellow community members. You continue to infer that maintenance of the building is being overlooked but will not give specifics about how. The commissioners unanimously do not want to put more money into the existing facility. The existing building is incapable of delivering medication in the 21st century. VOTE YES, to modernize healthcare delivery in Chelan!

  4. Virtually every hospital in the country has the original core building with improvements and expansion around it, just check out Harbourview or Oregon Health Science. The taxpayers could easily do what is done nationwide and expand on site, no need to start from scratch, and one commissioner voted against building the new hospital and is for maintaining the present structure. The commissioners have been negligent in letting the present building deteriorate by deferring maintenance while they spend money on Bond issues and buying land. The facts are out there, this new hospital building will indebt the area for 35 years, and if it goes broke the taxpayers will be on the hook as in Toyota Town Center. Every business in Chelan will have to raise their prices to account for the increased overhead from this tax increase. Remodel and repurpose is the only answer, saving the present building and trying to recoup some of the money from the taxpayer unauthorized purchased land. VOTE NO, we can’t afford this debacle.

    • Bill- The cost of refurbishing/remodeling the hospital is $12 million more than building new. The numbers speak for themselves. Just to bring the current facility up to code is $14 million and would not solve infection control, patient privacy or ED room addition. Again, all of the commissioners voted against that option. So again, if there is a viable, inexpensive option, the experts that came up with this would be open to hear it, but it doesn’t exist. Comparing Harborview and Oregon Health Sciences in large cities to LCCH is really comparing apples to oranges. But even those facilities weren’t as land locked as LCCH is against the hillside. The tax payers will not be on the hook for the loan portion of the hospital cost. And again there is no evidence that the local businesses will raise prices because of the bond, and to write such is scare tactics. The bottom line is a new facility is needed and it will only become more expensive the longer this waits. That would be the true “debacle”. VOTE YES for better healthcare for your fellow citizens!

  5. Bill – In your comments you continually overlook one important factor. The cost of bringing the current facility up to code would cost the taxpayers more money than building a completely new facility. You seem to be operating under the assumption that maintenance on our current hospital is overlooked and pushed aside in favor of attempting to work towards a new facility. This idea is not only completely incorrect, but somewhat ignorant, and either formed on completely fabricated opinions of your own or total misinformation. As a healthcare facility, the hospital undergoes frequent inspections by the state and department of health. The team there is continuously making what improvements they can and updating wherever possible. Our hospital is currently ‘grandfathered in’ to several short-comings on codes that the department of health continues to allow us to bypass; mostly because they know enforcing all of these would shut us down entirely. We cannot expect this leniency to continue on forever, and much of the changes that would need to be made are simply not possible in the current location. As mentioned by other readers, our site is land locked which makes expansion nearly impossible, and updates to the current structure are even more costly than a completely new hospital altogether. I understand that you want to preserve the history and small town feel of the hospital that we’ve had for so long. But at some point, the lives of our patients and quality of the care we provide need to come before the impulse to be set in our ways. We often hear the discussion centered around tax dollars; or as you mentioned, a small increase of cost to a glass of wine. But how can we value these things above the care of our neighbors and our families? Not many people have had the experience of giving every single ounce of effort in them to save the life of another person; or reflecting back on the loss of a patient only to wonder if the resources were different or the limitations were gone that they could have reached a different outcome. Not many people have tried and failed to provide privacy to a grieving family who is actively watching their loved one pass because there aren’t any more open beds and a second patient has to be placed in the same room. Not many people have had to watch an elderly patient be sent to Spokane or Seattle, 3 hours away from their family because our census was full and Central in Wenatchee had no openings either. These are the things that weigh heavy on the hearts of the people who work at Lake Chelan Community Hospital. These are the reasons that we strive to educate our community and continue to ask for a vote for a much needed new facility. It’s not about empire building at all. There is no empire to be built here, there is no hidden agenda to trick the people of our town into voting a certain way. There is only a genuine need, and a genuine passion to see the people of our valley cared for at the highest level that we can provide. We owe our community this service. We owe it to those that raised us and did the best they could, and we owe it to our children to leave them with a good healthcare system in place. Allowing our hospital to shut down would be a tragic outcome; and would leave a tremendous void in our community. Let’s save our hospital and save our town from this loss. Vote yes for the new hospital.

  6. The statements that the current building cannot be rehabilitated are the really false statements. Several eminent architects with knowledge of the construction of the present hospital are in complete disagreement with your statements “that it is more expensive to maintain than build new”; the people need the facts. A quick look at the building from the air shows that the land behind the hospital is undeveloped and expansion in that direction completely feasible. There is no need to expand the hospital to almost twice the size to accommodate the same number of beds. Which should also be mentioned that since 2011 the occupancy rate has not exceeded 4 beds at any one time, and there are 11 beds available to the community. Failing to maintain and upgrade the present structure is a true scandal, and with LCCH consistently losing 1.5% of their business yearly, while Confluence is increasing their business, it is a complete false narrative to say we need to increase the size of the hospital. The total cost of this bond issue over 35 years exceeds $150,000,000 when you add in interest. On top of this the small local hospitals from Brewster to Quincy are already in financial trouble and we do not need another Town Toyota Center fiasco to bail out if LCCH fails. There is absolutely no good reason to nearly double the size of LCCH, and the present building with proper maintenance will last us many years, as it was originally designed to do. VOTE NO, don’t saddle our kids and grandkids with this new White Elephant.

    • Bill- Nobody has stated the current building cannot be rehabilitated. It HAS been said that it would cost $14 million to bring the current building up to code, but that would not help patient privacy or infection control or add space to the ED or keep patients that need a chest X-ray who are in the ED from having to walk through the FRONT LOBBY. It also has been stated that a complete remodel of the hospital would cost $12 million MORE than building new. There is a need to build larger because the community is growing and private rooms would help with the above mentioned privacy and infection control. The hospital would also be able to accommodate more patients because of said private rooms because there would be no worries about putting opposite sex patients in a double room or other privacy issues. The hospital cannot be expanded into the bedrock hillside without putting the existing building at risk. Those studies can be explained by talking to the administration and seeing them. Again, who are the “architects” that you continue to write about? We all would like to know who they are and ask them how they came up with their conclusions. The 1.5% is misleading because the hospital has actually become busier over that same time frame, but people have decided to go a more modern, updated facility. The real tragedy would be to “saddle” our future generations with a outdated, “White Elephant” hospital that is incapable of providing modern healthcare. GET THE FACTS AND VOTE YES!

  7. Proponents of the new building of the hospital need to get the facts, which are now out there. They tell a completely different story from that of those who wish to put this community into deep debt to build their new hospital building. I am certain that well meaning folks who go through these facts, that have been vetted with hospital management, will see the truth. That is that it is much wiser to maintain what we have, rather than build this new hospital, particularly in this time of federal budget cuts and uncertainty in future medical needs. GET THE FACTS, then Vote NO

    • Bill- again putting out information without real substance designed to cause doubt. We all would like to see these “alternative facts” that you speak of. Who did the study? What are the numbers? WHERE IS THIS INFORMATION? If you are going to write about it, put it out there. Legitimate studies have been done and can be found on newhospitalnow.com or lakechelancommunityhospital.com. Secondly, the government budget cuts are not to Medicare and critical access hospitals, another fact that is misrepresented. They have been done by legitimate organizations and consultants. We can’t get your “facts” if you are unwilling to put them out there. The CEO is willing to sit down with anyone to explain the numbers, show actual evidence of the studies, and answer any questions. I have yet to see the opposition do the same. VOTE YES FOR IMPROVED HEALTHCARE FOR GENERATIONS TO COME!

      • Brian: Now you are talking, get the facts and you will certainly change your mind. The CEO has been sitting down with the folks with the alternative plan to “Maintain it, Don’t Replace it”. So he has the facts and they will be put out on a clear website prior to the election. It is so clear that expanding a small hospital in these times, and putting the community in this terrible debt spiral goes beyond unwise. The hospital’s own WIPFLi, study shows clearly that the valley should be consolidating and hanging on to their cash rather than taking this incredible risk with the healthcare dollars that they presently have. Refer to the following studies and “It is unclear how many rural hospitals will compensate for the financial benefits they are likely to lose-or how many more rural hospitals will fail” CNN January 17, 2017 1. CHARS, Washington State Department of health 2011-2015, 2016 Hospital Construction Survey (HFM) 2/20/2017. These and other studies prove without a shadow of doubt the reasons that three times previously the voters have turned this New Hospital Building down. Get the facts “with an open mind”, and VOTE NO!!!!

        • Bill- Nothing that you have stated has any substance. Studies all show that are actually done about LCCH that the option of building new is the most cost effective. Clearly you will never use LCCH for your own healthcare, but for the patient population that does, why would try to deny them that? It would be like the rest of us saying we don’t want the rock slides on the south shore cleared because we don’t think that is a cost effective way to use the highway department budget. The federal government is not cutting Medicare or Critical Access funding. So the CNN study has no relevance. The Wipfli study does state that the hospital and clinic should consolidate to one site, but the citizens have stated that the new hospital is the priority at this time. The other studies are generalized studies that don’t take into account individual circumstances. The past two votes have been incredibly close to passing the 60% super majority needed for a hospital bond. What that means is that more people want this instead of don’t. If you have any concrete evidence, we all would like to see it. Don’t be swayed by scare tactics! Vote YES!

          • Brian, if you will just look at the clear facts regarding small rural hospitals, as well as the actual numbers regarding the bond issue and ability of LCCH to generate enough income to support a hospital building 1.75 times the size of their present structure, you will certainly see that the correct solution is to consolidate and take care of what we have. The dismantling of the ACA by the present administration, and changes in healthcare funding make any decision to expand and increase the debt of LCCH at this time especially critical. Every time the vote has come up it has lost by a larger number of votes and the community would be far better served to put the campaign money into rehabilitating their present building, and accepting the voters will. Any person who reviews the facts with an open mind will certainly see that building this new much larger hospital is a bad idea, and trying to compete with the larger better hospital in Wenatchee is impossible. Get the Facts, and then Vote NO

          • Bill- We all still don’t understand why you think that LCCH is trying to compete with CWH? There is nor will there ever be in any long term strategic plan to compete with CWH. The two facilities can work in synergy and provide excellent care. The clear facts are that CWH supports a new, larger hospital in Chelan. The clear facts are that CWH is full and unfortunately on diversion so LCCH cannot transfer appropriate patients there at times. The clear facts are that the financial studies show Chelan can support a building that is 1.75 times the current facility and LCCH will be able to give the patients privacy, infection control and patient dignity. If the studies had stated otherwise, the administrator would not have even brought up the idea. The clear facts are that a majority of people in the valley still support a new hospital. The clear facts that anyone who visits the hospital will see that it is overcrowded and needs to be 1.75 times larger. The clear facts are also that the ACA has nothing to do with the Critical Access program, so trying to connect the two is just a scare tactic. We have the facts available to us, and the clearly state that a new hospital is affordable and needed for the community!
            P.S. We are still waiting for the name of the “architect” you keep writing about!

      • Brian, there is no doubt. Small rural hospitals from Quincy to Chinook are in desperate financial trouble and taking LCCH from a liquid financial position into deep debt makes no sense. Remember, LCCH has remained solvent because the taxpayers pay a 1.5 million per year subsidy to keep the hospital up to date and well maintained. This new hospital which is widely known as Toyota Town Hospital, for it’s resemblance to the 40 million dollar disaster that had to be bailed out by the people of Chelan County will probably have the same fate. The difference is that unlike TTC, this new hospital will have to be bailed out by the small population of Chelan Valley and Stehekin, and the total cost for the 35 year bond comes to over $150, 000,000 when you add in interest. Take care of the hospital we have, don’t build new. Let’s keep our hometown hospital a solvent entity and forget this tremendous risk to its future. Vote NO for the fourth time and Maintain it, don’t replace it.

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