Hospital board introduces interim CEO, discusses building project at month board meeting

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.