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.
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.
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.”
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)