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NEW LETTER (Apr. 23) Letters to the Editor (Op-Ed) – New Lake Chelan Community Hospital

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Letters to the Editor (Opinion-Editorial)

New Lake Chelan Community Hospital

April 23, 2017 – By Tom Anglin

NEW LAKE CHELAN HOSPITAL – THE TRUE COST TO PROPERTY OWNERS

FACT: The $20 million bond and interest are the only costs associated with the new hospital that property owners in the Lake Chelan Hospital District are responsible for.

FACT: 55% of hospital district property owners are part time residents who are registered voters in other districts, but they do pay property taxes on the property they own here.

FACT: 55%, or $11 million of the $20 million, and the associated interest, will be paid for by people who own property here but vote elsewhere.

FACT: 45%, or $9 million of the $20 million bond will be paid by paid by our District’s property owners who are full-time residents of the Lake Chelan Valley.

FACT: The $20 million and associated interest are both calculated into the $ 0.38 per $1,000 of assessed value that property owners will be pay.

Written by Tom Anglin

April 20, 2017 – By Kim Green

Originally my husband and I decided to deliver our baby in Chelan to avoid having to drive all the way down to the Wenatchee Hospital for all of our appointments, not to mention the actual delivery! We live north of town and the Wenatchee Hospital is well over an hour away for us. Now, after having multiple experiences at the Lake Chelan Community Hospital, the most notable being the birth of our son, we can say that we are strong supporters of the hospital and clinic (we no longer just see it as a way to avoid a long drive). During every visit to LCCH, we were treated with lots of good care and compassion. The nurses and doctors, and all other technicians, provided for us a heartwarming community feel due to the connections and relationships that were formed. We love the small town feel of LCCH. To be able to keep that going, with the progression of a new, up-to-date hospital, is something that’s really important to me.  

I have been in a shared room at the current facility, recovering next to someone else. I have had my blood drawn in the closet. I have nervously driven up and down the steep driveway in icy conditions.  Do all these things matter much to me compared to the great care we have received? No. But would it be really nice if these issues (along with a host of other very important ones) were taken care of?Definitely!  

I love the idea of healthcare expanding in this area, not diminishing and moving down to Wenatchee or elsewhere. As a teacher in Chelan, I am proud of our schools and our library.  I am thankful our community consistently supports our school levies. I hope our community can step up and support this new hospital in much the same way.  

For those on the fence, or those who didn’t vote last time, please consider voting yes. Every point that the opposition makes that may sound convincing is clearly addressed by newhospitalnow.com. I encourage you to go there and spend some time reading through the different tabs and getting informed as I did.

Please Vote Yes! Thank you.  

Sincerely, 

Kim Green

April 17, 2017 – By Joshua Schkrohowsky, MD

Dear Neighbors,

Imagine you are cheering on your child at his wrestling match. He gets taken down and in the process, injures his elbow. He is standing there in extreme pain, holding his crocked arm. All you want is to have his pain relieved as quickly as possible.   

This happened a few weeks ago at the Chelan wrestling meet. As the local orthopedic surgeon, I was able to reduce the athlete’s elbow right there on the mat, relieving his pain immediately. Without local orthopedic care this child could have been sitting around for a long time in the ER waiting with a dislocated elbow or being transferred to Wenatchee for the closet orthopedic care.

Don’t risk losing access to orthopedic care. A new facility is critical in keeping up with the rapid changes in health care delivery. Just think, when this hospital was built in 1972 there were no computers in the hospital, MRIs didn’t exist, and there were no arthroscopic surgeries. I hope to be able to continue offering state-of-the-art orthopedic care into the foreseeable future.

Think of your kids and your own future. Keep orthopedics in the valley and vote YES for the new hospital.

Respectfully,

Joshua Schkrohowsky, MD

Orthopedic Surgeon, Lake Chelan Community Hospital and Clinics

April 17, 2017 – By J. Waszkewitz, MD

A NEW HOSPITAL FOR CHELAN?

WHY:  I have been a physician in Chelan for 30 years and have cared for patients in the Lake Chelan Hospital almost every day of those 30 years and I can tell you that we now have a dedicated, well trained and hard working staff struggling to provide the best care they can in a small, old and inadequate building. The wiring is too old to power the next generation of computers, lab and x-ray equipment. The pipes, embedded in the concrete slab and walls, are rusty and frequently break. The building is just too small. People share closets for office space and equipment is stored in the halls. There is no room to add new medical technology as it becomes available or add new or expanded services. The double patient rooms are small and present problems when matching male with male or female with female patients or accommodating patients with infectious diseases. The small number of ER rooms sometimes results in long waits to get service and there are times in the winter when cars, including ambulances cannot get up the hill to the hospital.

WHY NOW:  No, the hospital is not about to fall down but doing nothing is not an option. The building does not meet state code in many, many areas. Until now the state has grandfathered in these deficiencies but no more.  Recently the state notified the hospital that it would have to update the old emergency power system to keep its doors open. The estimate cost for updating this single system is more than $2 million or about 10% of the hospitals’ share of a completely new building. And this is likely to be only the first of many expensive fixes that will be required to patch up our old hospital building. Clearly the hospital commissioners were prudent not to go down that road of unknown expenses which, in the end, would still leave us with a small, old and inadequate building. Expanding the hospital or building new on the existing site was also considered but the estimated cost of excavating and blasting into the rocky hillside was unbelievably prohibitive. Every consultant and reasonable person that looks at these numbers agrees; it is cheaper to build a new hospital than put money into a fixer upper building or build on a hill side.

WHY NOT:  Passage of this bond will mean higher property tax. Nobody, including me, wants to pay more tax but we do so for the good of our children with better school and for the benefit of us all for police and fire protection. Over the 30 year term of this hospital bond the additional property tax would be, at maximum, only 38 cents/$1,000 of assessed value per year or $38.00 per year for a $100,000 house or $190.00 per year for a ½ million dollar house. This would be just a bit more than we already pay for our library and the amount of tax each property owner pays will decrease with time as more houses and business are added to our tax base.

And consider this; every year the hospital brings $26.7 million into our community from various federal and state programs and from private insurance companies. It employs  284 people and has a payroll of $16 million/year.

Please do not be fooled by the misleading and deceptive scare tactics of the “Vote No Campaign.” The total cost, including interest over 30 years, of the $20 million bond we are asking you to approve is $32 million ($20 million for the bond +$12 million total interest over 30 years) 

The “No” campaign also claims that the hospital cannot afford it’s’ $22 million share of the cost of the new hospital but multiple consultants and financial experts say we can. Because ours is a critical access hospital the federal government guarantees us a 1% profit over expenses and the cost of repaying the loan would be a covered expense. The total cost of the loan, including interest would be $38 million not the $154 million “massive” debt you might have seen on the “no “campaign signs.

VOTE:  The opposition is relentless. They are organized, they are loud and they are wrong. Do not let them deny you the best medical care we can provide and do not let them force the hospital commissioners  to waist your money trying to modernize an old building. Please vote. And for the health of your family, our community and our future, PLEASE VOTE YES.

Thank You,

J. Waszkewitz, MD

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17 Comments on NEW LETTER (Apr. 23) Letters to the Editor (Op-Ed) – New Lake Chelan Community Hospital

  1. Thank you Dr. Schkrohowsky for this well thought out letter and for the time you have devoted to this issue. We appreciate your service to our community. I vote YES!

  2. The proponents of this nearly doubling the size of our present hospital miss the point. We need a good emergency hospital, which we now have, not one that tries to compete with the fully equipped, better staffed, and better funded hospitals in the major population centers. Transportation via ambulance or helicopter to the major hospitals in the state is now available, why would anyone chance elective procedures in a small hospital when they can have those elective procedures done where they do multiples of them. No matter how much LCCH taxes the community they will still have a 25 bed hospital with the same staff size we have now and these grandiose plans by the employees denies the facts that small rural hospitals are failing at a tremendous rate when they get into unsupportable debt. The present hospital has plenty of life left in it, and hospitals way older are constantly being renewed, properly maintained, and upgraded. That is the ticket for us here in Chelan, keep the present hospital that overlooks lake Chelan, stop this ridiculous bi yearly bond issue that divides the community and get on with taking care of what we have. Hopefully those single minded individuals on the Hospital Board will resign when this bond issue follows the last three and fails and we can get some new leadership at LCCH that will come up with something beyond another bond in two years. VOTE NO, Lets no let them bulldoze our perfectly good hospital on the hill

  3. Most of us that have cars capable of driving to Wenatchee use LCCH for Babies, Bandaids, and Breaks, anything more exotic is either stabilized and shipped out, or directly taken to Wenatchee, and our local hospital has filled the bill for that type of emergency care adequately for many years. Asking the citizens to nearly double the size of the hospital and risk the entire enterprise with this massive debt defies logic. With 1/3rd of the hospital only 22 years old, it seems foolish to abandon a building that can be upgraded for a fraction of the cost of this shiny new hospital, those are the facts, and anyone who has any knowledge of construction knows that the hospital figures for remodel are just not believable. This is not time to allow the empire builders to build this Toyota Town Hospital on the backs of the taxpayers, endangering the entire concept of a local rural hospital and its mission to the local community. VOTE NO, remodel is a much better cost effective idea

  4. The choice is simple. You have the no voters who seem to be hell bent in keeping medicine in the valley stuck in the 70s. Shared rooms. No privacy. Inadequate OR and OB. Or, you have the yes voters who want medicine to progress into the 21st century. Privacy, dignity, infection control. Go to http://www.newhospitalnow.com or http://www.chelanhospitaltruths.com for the expertise and facts. Don’t settle for substandard for our community. Vote YES with confidence!

  5. The choice is simple, keep our viable hospital that has served us well and has plenty of life left in it, OR take an incredible risk nearly doubling the size of the hospital, putting the hospital district in deep debt, while keep the same number of beds and staff. This high priced advertising campaign financed by the real estate land speculators and highly paid hospital employees will put the valley into deep debt for the next 30 years. Look around at the number of small hospitals in the area in deep financial distress, solely because they went into debt. We have a viable hospital, lets not risk it with these fancy promises exactly the same as those given, in Quincy, Grand Coulee, and Kennewick, which are now laying off people and threatening to shut their doors. Let’s not hand this hospital board a blank check for $20,000,000 to use as they see fit. Read the Ballot, it is a blank check that the community will have to repay for the next 30 years. Hard to believe they are trying to for the fourth time to sell the community this White Elephant, but it appears they have no other plan. VOTE NO, lets keep our beautiful hospital overlooking the lake and not send our sick and injured out to the dump

  6. The majority of the community has supported the building of a new hospital at 58%. Remember that a hospital is a highly regulated, scrutinized entity, suggesting that the commissioners are being handed a blank check is just not true. Equating Chelan with the three entities mentioned is a false equivalence. Bill knows this, yet he continues to malign LCCH and the citizens who support the hospital. Support viable healthcare in the valley for decades to come. Pay it forward like those in 1948 and 1972 did – Vote YES.

  7. Time to vote, please read your ballot carefully and you will see that the Hospital Board has a “blank check”. If they cannot get a loan from the federal government, (which is very likely) they can spend that $20,000,000 any way they like. Remember after the first failed bond they went out and bought land at the dump, and after the last failed bond they went out and bought the clinic. The are in deep debt for both of these purchases and want to go further into debt for their shiny new Toyota Town Hospital. This is a bad idea on so many levels, and the proponents will not see the danger, even though the three local hospitals that are failing did exactly what LCCH proposes, and that is getting into debt over their heads. We have a good viable hospital of exactly the right size for the area, no need to nearly double the size with a Mini Mall type hospital out at the dump. VOTE NO, don’t let the fanatics bulldoze our hospital on the hill

  8. Bill continues to spread misinformation, exaggerates the risks, minimizes the benefits, does so deliberately and with impunity, despite the known facts. In short, Bill is not telling the truth. LCCH has an excellent credit rating but is wisely not willing to borrow beyond the safe debt capacity of the organization. To be successful, LCCH needs the support of the community, something that the other examples he cites did not do. LCCH is not deep in debt. The current debt of $7 million will be rolled into the USDA loan, which the hospital qualifies for, given the excellent AA Moody Bond Rating. In addition, preferential reimbursement from Medicare for Critical Access Hospitals will result in a annual payment debt of $200,000 that is less than what LCCH easily pays now of $300,000. The total being asked of the voters is $20 million. LCCH assumes the rest of the cost of the project, $22.5 million. All bonds do include interest payments (anticipated to hold at 3.375% for the near future), this is standard for such capital projects undertaken by public entities. The total principal cost of the project is ~ $44 million, paid for by combining funding from the voted bond and the USDA loan. Bill deliberately misrepresents the vetting of the project in attempt to build public mistrust against both the commissioners, who are elected to represent the community, and LCCH. These malicious statements are irresponsible, unfair, and do not reflect accurately the intentions of LCCH, but serve to undermine the organization. Shameful! Despite Bill’s faux outrage, LCCH made wise investments when purchasing both the land and the clinic. Investments that will enhance the viability of the organization into the future: an appropriate building site with safe access and room to grow and a financially sound clinic and hospital to serve community. Voting YES will ensure that healthcare thrives in the Chelan Valley.

  9. Hello supporters.

    We desperately need a new hospital.
    In August of 2012, I delivered my first born via c-section at the current hospital. Our valley was full of smoke due to wildfires in and around the valley. During my 3 day stay in the hospital, the smoke was clearly coming through the ventilation system and was very noticeable. I was worried about my newborn breathing the air. The labor/delivery room was small and out dated as well as the recovery room I spent the remaining time with my family until we were able to take our new baby home.

    When we got pregnant with our second child, we decided that although the care in the valley was great, the hospital was not my ideal place to labor and deliver our second child, so we chose Confluence Health in Wenatchee, a 45 minute drive. The labor and delivery had their own floor and the rooms were ample size and there was more options for care.

    After experiencing an issue free pregnancy, the night came where I went into labor. We were so excited. So we got in the car and drove to the hospital in Wenatchee at 2:30 am. After a contraction, I felt my baby kick. I told her to hang on and that we’d see her shortly. But, sadly, when we arrived and got settled into our room and hooked up to the monitors, my daughter’s heart beat had ceased. She had passed away. Her umbilical cord was wrapped twice around her neck tightly.

    I know the “what ifs” will always be just “what ifs”. But these questions replay in our minds, “what if we didn’t have that 45 minute commute?” “What if we had a new hospital, would we have chosen to stay here to give birth to our second child?” “Would we have our daughter here with us today?” Maybe, maybe not. There are other mothers that are faced with this very same decision, do they deliver in an out dated hospital or do they drive 45 minutes to give birth in a new facility?

    Our community is growing. We need a hospital that can support the growth our community is experiencing. Mothers deserve to have the best during labor and delivery. We need a new hospital that offers mothers to be the best in modern medicine.

    Thank you kindly,
    Kari Kollmeyer

  10. Keeping our local hospital is the entire mission of those who are worried about the empire builders bankrupting it. We presently have a good local hospital that is in decent financial shape, thanks to the 1.5 million dollar subsidy that the community now pays to keep it here. Risking it all as was done in Quincy, Grand Coulee, and Kennewick is just not something that those of us who moved to this area want. We need and have a good local hospital with a good reputation for emergency’s, baby delivery, and stabilize and ship, we do not need to nearly double the size of the hospital keeping the same number of staff and beds while risking bankruptcy. All it takes is a small amount of research to realize the danger posed by this expansion and massive debt, which has been advised against only two weeks ago by Governor Inslee. 12 out of 39 similar CAH hospitals are in desperate straits because of poor management decisions and we do not want to lose the local hospital because of a few overzealous employees of the hospital and real estate land speculators. Now is definitely not the time for this major financial risk when we have a hospital with plenty of life left in it that meets the needs of the community. VOTE NO Lets keep our nice hospital on the hill over looking Lake Chelan

  11. Bill is merely selling doubt by attempting to manipulate public opinion against the hospital by making false statements. Don’t be conned. Get the facts http://www.newhospitalnow.com he doesn’t care about your healthcare.

  12. The question remains, “Show us a hospital similar to LCCH that has gone into $54,000,000 and is still solvent”. The opponents to this disaster can give three local hospitals, Grand Coulee, Quincy, Kennewick, and 12 CAH hospitals out of 39 that are in desperate straits. The proponents say that LCCH is unique, but refuse to give examples where this type of massive debt is a success. They say it is not like Toyota Town Center and will not need bailing out, but the facts say otherwise. READ THE BALLOT. Do taxpayers really want to give LCCH $20,000,000 cash that they can use as the Hospital Board sees fit, I think not. The people pushing this are the employees of the hospital and the real estate land speculators, they are the finance of this expensive publicity campaign and have the most to win. Lets not destroy our perfectly good hospital with this grandiose nearly twice the size white elephant. VOTE NO, don’t let the fanatics bulldoze our hospital and move the sick and injured out to the dump

  13. There is terrific debt from the residents and taxpayers of Chelan as to whether this hyped expensive ad campaign has their interests in mind. Certainly the employees at the hospital and the real estate land speculators who are financing this campaign see an advantage for them, but is it worth the risk? With local hospitals that have taken these risks failing at an alarming rate, and the Governor of the State warning rural hospitals of their danger this is certainly not the time for this nearly doubling of the size of our hospital. Time to maintain what we have and stay within the budget, after all we already give LCCH 1.5 million dollars a year in subsidy, which comes out to $60,000 per bed for a 25 bed hospital, thats a lot of money and should be more than enough to keep our present hospital maintained. So pull those ballots out of the recycle bin and put them in the mail cause this could well be a mistake that we will pay for for the next 30 years. VOTE NO

  14. Don’t let a few loud naysayers steal the viability of healthcare in this community with their half-truths, misrepresentations, demonization, false equivalence and just plain lies. Vote YES to keep healthcare vital and strong for the future. Pay it forward – it’s our turn to support our community’s healthcare infrastructure.

  15. Many of the leaders of the community have stepped up to voice their concerns about the wisdom of building a hospital nearly twice the size of the present one, they have shown the facts clearly with local examples of just how dangerous this Massive debt will become. In response those proposing this new hospital building have three times put it up before the community, causing a lot of hard feelings. Those same advocates have called names, removed lawn signs, and been generally obnoxious. Now the ballots are out, the facts are clear, three of our local hospitals that tried this exact same expansion are in desperate financial straits, 12 out of the 39 CAH hospitals in the state are in similar distress, and the governor of the State of Washington has warned that this is no time for rural hospitals to go into debt. The alternative is clear, maintain and improve on what we now have working within the present 1.5 million dollar subsidy that the taxpayers already generously endowed LCCH with every year. Ignore the rants and personal attacks of those hospital workers, janitorial staff, and real estate land speculators and VOTE NO, This is way to large a risk of our local hospital system for little gain.

    • Bill, could you please stop using divisive language. I am sure there have been plenty of name calling and obnoxiousness on both sides. I know, I have experienced it. Trying to portray one side as innocent victims does nothing but divide this community. No matter what happens tomorrow we are still neighbors. We all have to work for a positive outcome, regardless of the results of the election. I’m sure there will be plenty of issues in the future we can both agree on. Happy election day.

  16. Well it is finally election day and we can see just how this community is divided. Will the people who want to tear down our present hospital and build this new nearly double the size white elephant prevail, or will the sensible, conservatives who have defeated this bond issue three times previously stop the madness. The opponents have shown repeatedly the disaster that will occur when LCCH puts themselves into deep debt, they have shown the nearby hospitals that are already in trouble and the 12 out of 39 CAH hospitals statewide that are closing their doors. The big question is, “Will this slick expensive advertising campaign of the Real Estate Land Speculators sway the opinion of the voters”. Only a few hours from now the decision will be made, and we will see if common sense prevails over media hype. If you still have not voted, read your ballot, this is a $20,000,000 cash gift to the Hospital Board with very few strings attached. This is the same hospital board that spends the entire $1.5 million dollars per year tax subsidy on the salaries and benefits of 6 top managers at LCCH. This is the same board that has divided this community repeatedly with this bond issue, taking the position that doing something over and over again will get a different result. So reach into the recycle bin, find that ballot and take it down to the drop box. That short drive may just be the ticket to saving our existing hospital and not putting the system into a 30 year debt spiral. VOTE NO, there is still time

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