On April 25, 2017, hospital district residents voted to approve a bond to help fund construction of a new hospital facility in Chelan. The new building will have private patient rooms, larger birthing rooms, increased outpatient capacity and a bigger emergency room. It will also have space for rehabilitative therapy, laboratory and radiology, as well as an expanded surgery department and a helicopter pad for emergency transfers. The fully ADA accessible hospital will be designed for cost effectiveness.

The new building will be built on hospital-owned property at Chelan Apple Blossom Drive, near Wal-Mart, across from the new Columbia Valley Community Health Clinic construction.

The cost of the construction project is $44.5 million. Voters voted to pay $20 million. The remaining costs will be funded by the hospital, grants and the LCCH Foundation.

The hospital Board of Commissioners and administration worked with outside financial and healthcare consultants to explore facility options. Multiple community meetings were held to gather input in 2016 and 2017. The building project is based on the results of those reports and meetings.

The project remains in the planning and permitting phase, with anticipated ground breaking in 2019 and occupancy in 2020. To access previous updates and a presentation to the LCCHC Board by architects CollinsWoerman, visit the project update page. We will continue to update thepage as new news is available.

Dr. Tobe Harberd of Chelan was honored as the 2018 Outstanding Rural Health Practitioner this week at the annual Rural Health Conference in Spokane, WA.

Harberd, who has practiced family medicine at the Lake Chelan Clinic (LCC) for 10 years, is an advocate for rural health and an inspiration to medical students, said John McCarthy, who presented the award March 27. McCarthy, Assistant Dean of Rural Programs at the University of Washington (UW) School of Medicine, oversees the UW programs that place medical students in rural primary care clinics to learn from established doctors.

Lake Chelan is one the program’s participating clinics, and Harberd plays an active role mentoring medical students. His nomination included a letter from Scott Hippe, one of LCC’s students who ultimately chose to pursue a career in Family Medicine in the northwest, in large part to what he saw Harberd doing for patients in Chelan.

“Dr. Harberd showed me what it is possible to do as a rural physician,” said Hippe, “and I strive to gain the proficiency and scope he attained. Dr. Harberd is committed to educating the next generation of rural physicians. He is a clinical professor in the University of Washington system … he is an excellent teacher, having bestowed on me experience as a medical student that has helped tremendously so far in my residency training.

“But his commitment to the doctors of tomorrow extends beyond formal training; when my basement apartment flooded, he and his family welcomed me into their home to finish out my time in Chelan. This openness to showing students not only what it is like to work in a rural setting, but also to make a life there, makes all the difference.

The memorial award Harberd received is in honor of John Anderson, MD of Cle Elum. Like Dr. Anderson, who stabilized his medical community with a commitment to excellent care for his patients, said McCarthy, Dr. Harberd is the kind of physician who supports the future of health care in his community. “He manifests with the joy of the profession,” he said, “and his ability to mentor others will lead to stabilize medical infrastructure and more rural physicians.”

Harberd, who cares for nearly 2,000 patients in Chelan, says he was both surprised and honored to receive the award. Becoming a family physician in a rural area was his ultimate plan as a medical student, he said. He especially likes the autonomy and diversity of working as a rural family doctor. I like taking care of patients of all ages, he said, all the way from OB to pediatrics to geriatrics. “Chelan is a great community. It allows me to practice medicine the way I want, and it is also a wonderful place for my family.”

Lake Chelan Hospital Board Chair Mary Signorelli introduced interim CEO Steven Patonai at March’s regular board meeting Tuesday, March 20. Patonai, who has more than 25 years of senior healthcare executive experience, will serve as CEO while the Board searches for a permanent replacement for CEO Kevin Abel, who leaves for a new CEO position in Montana April 1.

During March’s meeting, board members heard presentations regarding bond rates, the USDA loan process and project draft budget. State representatives from the USDA visited last week, said Abel, and the application will soon move to the federal level. Bond rates continue to look encouraging, and the board voted to update dates in the bond resolution they voted on last year, as well as approve the current space program for the replacement hospital, which moves the business office and other administrative offices to the Johnson Avenue building to make room for clinic services within the new hospital building.

In response to a request by local physicians, represented by Chief Medical Officer Ty Witt, the hospital board also considered Initiative 1000, the “Washington State Death with Dignity Act.”

“After careful, thoughtful conversations with our medical staff and the board of commissioners, we have decided that whether a physician will participate in the ‘Washington State Death with Dignity Act’ should be the provider’s own choice.  As hospital administrators, we do not wish to interfere in the relationship between the provider and the patient,” said Abel.

Lake Chelan Community Hospital & Clinics (LCCHC) will, however, ensure all the laws and safeguards of the “Washington State Death with Dignity Act” are followed if a provider and patient choose to participate.

Lake Chelan Community Hospital & Clinics does not mandate that any provider participate in the “Washington State Death with Dignity Act,” nor encourage any provider to do so.  Only those providers and patients who are willing and desire to participate should do so.

“All providers at LCCHC are expected to respond to any patient’s query about life-ending medication with openness and compassion.  We believe our providers have an obligation to openly discuss the patient’s concerns, unmet needs, feelings, and desires about the dying process.  Providers should seek to learn the meaning behind the patient’s questions and help the patient understand the range of available options, including but not limited to comfort care, hospice care, and pain control.  Ultimately, LCCHC’s goal is to help patients make informed decisions about end-of-life care,” said Abel.

While LCCHC allows its providers to participate, it will prohibit patients from taking any life-ending medication at the hospital or clinic. It also will not stock the medication, and patients must fill their prescription elsewhere.

Steve Patonai, who has more than 25 years of senior healthcare executive experience, will start as interim CEO at Lake Chelan Community Hospital & Clinics (LCCHC) Monday, March 19. He replaces LCCHC CEO Kevin Abel, who is leaving this month for a new CEO position with North Valley Hospital in Whitefish, Montana. Patonai will serve as CEO while the LCCHC Board looks for a permanent CEO to replace Abel.

Patonai comes from Houston, TX, where he worked as CEO for two major hospitals. His experience also includes executive experience in a variety of hospitals, from smaller organizations to tertiary medical centers, providing him with a diverse wealth of expertise, including hospital operations, physician recruitment and hospital construction.

“We are very pleased to have Steve on board as our interim,” said Mary Signorelli, LCCHC Board chair. “We look forward to working with him on all of the projects we have begun and feel confident that he will serve our community very well.”

Patonai, who began his medical career as a pharmacist, has a personal interest in local healthcare. He and his wife Sharon own property in the valley and are currently building their retirement home near Rocky Point. He first visited Chelan when working as CEO of Auburn Regional Medical Center outside Seattle more than 15 years ago.

“Lake Chelan Hospital is very well positioned,” he said, “and Kevin Abel has done a great job. With the new hospital building project, it’s an exciting time to be part of local healthcare, and I hope I can have a positive impact.”

Patonai looks forward to working in a smaller hospital where he can interact more closely with staff and patients. “It gives me an opportunity to return to the roots of why I got into healthcare in the first place,” he said, “to help people.”