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LCCH Board of Commissioners approve resolution to take the “vote for a new hospital” to the people

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The Lake Chelan Community Hospital Board approved Resolution 575 four to one on Tuesday, Jan, 24, 2017, to bring a vote for a new replacement hospital to the special election on Apr. 25, 2017. If approved by voters, the new hospital would be located on Apple Blossom Road across from the new Columbia Valley Community Health Clinic currently under construction. (Stock photo by GoLakeChelan.com)

The Lake Chelan Community Hospital (LCCH) Board of Commissioners met in regular session on Jan. 24, 2017. The board meeting began with public comment which focused completely on Resolution 575 which, if approved, would adopt a plan to construct a new hospital facility and carry out other capital improvements as deemed necessary or advisable by the commission of the district.

Members of the audience represented both citizens of Chelan and employees working in the current hospital. The public comment was unanimous in approval of the building of a new hospital.

Many community members, such as Judy Steele stressed that the community needs a hospital that citizens can utilize as they age. “We are fifth generation,” Steele explained. “I need a facility that I can come to and my kids can come visit.”

LCCH employees and physicians explained that the size of the current facility does not support the size of new equipment and staff levels, resulting in danger for staff and patients as well as compromising patient confidentiality and dignity.

Audience members made up of citizens and LCCH employees fill the board room to voice their support for a new hospital. (Photo by Jillian Foster)

Valerie Wright, Access Coordinator for Sanctuary at the Lake, which is part of LCCH, recounted her workday to the board. Wright had been called to assist with a patient who was a possible candidate for admission to the 28-day inpatient program.

“I went down to registration and took the 24-year old female into our quiet room. We sat down had about a 5-minute conversation. She was suicidal.” Wright went on to say that during the conversation, the pair were interrupted by a maintenance worker looking to store equipment in the bathroom within the quiet room which was being used as a store room. “How is that care? We need a lot of privacy for my job. That it is not a storage unit,” said Wright.  

The board had previously voted between five options for a new facility. Option four which would allow for a replacement hospital, a projected $44.5 million project, at a new location, leaving the clinic in its current location.

The LCCH Board of Commissioners had previously considered five options which aimed to remedy the need for a new facility, eventually approving option four. (Photo courtesy of Lake Chelan Community Hospital)

Resolution 575 was approved four to one with Mary Murphy in opposition citing that she believed there is a better way to solve the need for a new facility without the financial burden to taxpayers. (Photo by Jillian Foster)

Board member Fred Miller made the motion, “to approve the resolution to put on the ballot a new hospital in April, Resolution 575.”

The motion was then seconded by Board Secretary Tom Warren who added, “I am so in favor of this hospital and that we do it, and we do it now.”

The Board of Commissioners each took turns explaining why they supported the resolution with one board member voicing opposition.

“I wish I could support the vote. I really understand everybody’s comments. We do need a new facility, we do need a solution to our facility’s issues, but I really have to oppose the motion,” said Mary Murphy. “I studied all the facts. I spent a year and a half actually looking at it. Convince me: How can this be done? How is this affordable for the community? How can we make this work? If we have a new facility, how is it going to meet our healthcare needs? I think there are other ways to approach this without putting the financial burden of $44-45 million on the community for 30 years.”

LCCH Board Secretary Tom Warren explained to the audience and board members that the resolution only provides for the $20 million, and it will go the ballot for a vote on April 25. (Photo by GoLakeChelan.com)

Warren then clarified to the audience and board members the amount of funds that the resolution would request of citizens. “So everyone understands, Resolution 575 is authorizing $20 million of general obligation bonds from the citizens of our district,” Warren explained. “With that will be added revenue bonds from the commissioners, which we’ll vote for, and additional funds for a total project of $44,500,000. This resolution only provides for the $20 million, and it would go the ballot and we would have a vote on April 25th.”

Resolution 575 was approved by the Board of Commissioners in a four to one vote with Murphy opposing.

The decision now moves to the citizens of the district who will be asked to vote in special election on Apr. 25, 2017. If approved by voters, the new hospital will be located on Apple Blossom Road across from the new Columbia Valley Community Health Clinic which is currently under construction.

(By Jillian Foster)

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10 Comments on LCCH Board of Commissioners approve resolution to take the “vote for a new hospital” to the people

  1. As a taxpayer who is part of the 1.7 million dollars a year subsidy that is paid to the hospital to keep it in good shape, I am disturbed. For the past six years the hospital board has been using that money to push their pet project of a new hospital instead of keeping the present building in top flight shape. They have run three bond issues, bought land, and deferred maintenance and upgrade on their present facility. This is dereliction of duty at the least and gross incompetence. We pay hard earned tax dollars to keep LCCH a good viable hospital, that money should have been spent on present infrastructure. Buying that land immediately following a defeated bond issue in which the community told them no to a new hospital is the height of arrogance and dismissal of the peoples vote. Time for new management up at LCCH so that our tax subsidy is spent as it was intended.

    • Bill- the land was purchased by the previous administrator after a bond to rebuild and refurbish the hospital in the current location was soundly defeated. The citizens were wise to know that wasn’t a good option. There were also studies done that stated doing any excavating in the bedrock hillside would put the current building at risk so a new site was sought. The real issue is the taxpayers are putting money (less than they put towards the library) into an aging building that cannot be affordably upgraded to meet the current standard of care for patients. The hospital administrator has currently made this hospital profitable. That should make everyone confident in the recommendations that they are presenting. Kicking the can down the road for future generations is only going to make this project more expensive. It is $12 million more than just 2 years ago. Spend time to educate yourselves. Go to newhospitalnow.com or lakechelancommunityhospital.com for the facts. We can’t be swayed by conjecture with no substance! VOTE YES FOR YOUR CHILDREN’S FUTURE!

  2. It is time for the hospital to face the facts, which are now out there. The price to remodel the present building is a fraction of the cost of this new hospital. The hospital is already in heavy debt, ($12,800,000) having not retired the debt for the land that they purchased after the first bond issue failed.. We are talking about a building that will cost $44,550,000 for a hospital that is 1.79 times the size of the present structure, at a time when their market share declined 1.5% per year between 2010 and 2014. They are talking about servicing a debt when last year they only had a $13,000 net revenue last year. Our hospital’s profitability is lower than 9 of 17 similar hospitals in the state.
    All of these facts are out there if anyone wants to check them out, and they prove the reason that even the Board of Directors could not get unanimous support for this terrible idea, that by the way has been turned down repeatedly in previous bond attempts. VOTE “NO” ONCE AGAIN, improve what we have so that it meets the needs of the community not the empire building of the special interests.

    • Bill- we all would like to know where you have come up with your “alternative facts”? Where did you get your incorrect debt number? A new hospital would cost $44 million dollars, but it was $12 million less expensive than 2 years ago and better patient privacy, infection control and patient dignity are still needed and not capable of being provided by the current building. Remodeling the new hospital would cost $12 MORE than building new. The market share has been less but the hospital has been busier and MORE profitable over the last 10 years. It would be interesting to see how many of the 9 hospitals have been rebuilt or remodeled. We all would like Bill and his cohorts to name them, please. And state where the “facts” come from. Again, the “empire” and “special interests” are the citizens of hospital district number 2. That is you and your neighbors. A new hospital WILL improve the quality of healthcare in the community! VOTE YES!

  3. A state of the art, up to date hospital is critical in this growing region. I am a Home Health provider. Daily I see the difficulty my patients experience in getting to a simple MD appointment in Wenatchee. The visit takes half of a day and takes significant coordination and hardship from those traveling with the patient. Often the patient takes a day or two to recover from the trip. I have also seen the great improvement in those patients who have had their orthopedic issues served at LCCH. Significant difference in overall care improvement, healing and stress reduction. Patient care has been significantly improved with these patients.
    Hospitals that were built in years past, and are still in use, have had space and infrastructure to expand and update to keep up with the critical technology that is required to run a state of the art hospital. LCCH literally has nowhere to go. It is backed up against the hill. That site is a beautiful location but is not expandable. With the new location, expansion and upgrades will be significantly easier in the future. In addition, patients and their families will have improved access, as well as improved safety in addition to improved community transportation to and from the new hospital site.
    I ask that each person consider whether in a time of crisis that they or their loved one should have to drive an hour to get to a hospital that meets up-to-date codes, or to a hospital that is less than 20 min. Away? When minutes count we need the hospital, that is up to code, accessible, and can meet our needs locally. The current hospital cannot continue to meet the growing needs of this community.
    Vote YES for a new hospital. When the 911call is for you, you will be glad you did!

  4. Obviously brianb is an employee of the hospital with a financial interest in putting the taxpayers of Chelan into this incredible debt situation that a new building will create. He advocates a 20 million dollar debt that actually doubles with the interest, be put on the shoulders of our children and grandchildren. If you use his logic about our “worn out and out of date” hospital, by the time this 30 year debt is paid off the “New Hospital by the dump”, will also be worn out. A quick look around at the major hospitals in the nation will find that they are all using buildings and facilities that were built long before the 1968 building that we presently use, and proper maintenance and modernization of those buildings has kept them relevant and effective. When the hospital board cannot convince a unanimous vote to build a new hospital in their own board with all of the information, certainly the voters must question whether this indebtedness is a good idea. After all, this single minded determination to deeply indebt our community has been defeated three times previously, at terrible cost to LCCH, and will be defeated again. What a waste of money that could be put into modernizing the present building and facilities and meeting the other needs, from schools to parks and fire equipment, of the people of Chelan. VOTE NO on the new building, Save Our Hospital.

    • Bill- you do a good job of misrepresenting what the new hospital is about. The employees of the hospital have no financial interest and will not earn any increased financial reward from a new facility. To infer that the good people of LCCH are doing this for some financial profit again borders on slander. The new facility is for the people of Chelan Valley. The hospital, as it is, is “worn out”. The builders and designers built it for 1970s medicine, but the building itself and the property is incapable of being upgraded for modern care. That is where this current building and building site differ from other “major hospitals” built before 1968. A quick look at them also shows expansion and major remodel from 1968 to the present. If you dig deeper in the commissioners votes, they ALL voted against putting any more money in the current facility. So what is the alternative? The need for a new facility is not going to disappear because you want it to. And it will keep getting more expensive. The citizens of the community deserve a facility that is capable of delivering 21st century medicine and will have the ability to be upgraded to change with the times. VOTE YES!

  5. Bill- I appreciate your comments about the upcoming referendum. There are a few areas that you seem to be misinformed about. First and foremost, ALL of the commissioners believe and have stated publicly that putting more money into the existing facility is a “waste of money”. The facility has been maintained quite well and any further upgrades will not solve the basic problems with the building. The building was designed and built for medicine in the 1970’s when quality care initiatives, patient privacy and infection control were not at the forefront. Private rooms were not the standard, handicapped bathrooms, and the equipment for standard of care were not what they are now. To pour money into just getting the hospital up to “code” would be very expensive, and still wouldn’t solve the patient privacy issues the facility has and the patient room and operating room size.
    The services provided at Lake Chelan Community Hospital are not a “duplicate” of what is provided at Central Washington Hospital. Central Washington Hospital is often on diversion, and unable to accept patients. Their hospital, as well as LCCH, has gotten busier over the past few years for various reasons. I would encourage you to ask the administrator at Central Washington Hospital if they would be in favor of a “stabilize and ship” facility in Chelan. A new facility would allow even more patients to get quality health care close to home, which is what a majority of the people of Chelan want.
    Lastly, the “empire” of which you write is Chelan County Hospital district 2. It isn’t a private corporation for profit hospital. If there is an empire to be built, it is for the greater health and welfare of the citizens of the district. The administration has done an outstanding job keeping this hospital solvent even with the many structural challenges the building poses. The commissioners chose the plan that gives the least amount of tax burden to the community (and I encourage everyone to look at exactly what that would be).
    I would encourage the citizens of the district to “put this to bed” (a private bed in a new facility) and vote YES. It will set up the Valley for quality, close to home health care for years to come!

  6. Think about it citizen/taxpayers of Chelan, Manson, and Stehekin, if the hospital board could not even convince a unanimous vote on building a new hospital, that has been turned down three times previously, why should the voters change their minds? The courage of Commissioner Murphy should not be overlooked, and the well thought out and documented reasons for her vote examined. LCCH would be wise to stop wasting their resources promoting this wasteful spending and instead put their efforts into living within their means, and maintaining and upgrading their present perfectly adequate facility.

  7. Here we go again! Three times this bond has failed!. This time we actually have the best informed member of the hospital board questioning, and voting against, this ridiculous waste of valuable taxpayer funds. This boondoggle will so indebt the area for the next thirty years that all other services will have to take a backseat in funding. Let’s put this empire building to bed once and for all, vote NO.
    Improve and maintain what we have, stabilize and ship to the full service hospital in Wenatchee, let us not try to duplicate and indebt our community hospital.

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