Board of Commissioners to consider delay of new hospital construction

by Dennis Rahm

The Board of Commissioners for Lake Chelan Community Hospital met in special session on Tuesday morning to discuss how to find solutions aimed at improving the hospitals finances and overall operation.

The Board is considering entering into an agreement with Quorum Health Resources to provide customized management resources needed to achieve a sustainable future. The company, which has a focus on working with rural hospitals throughout the United States, delivered a presentation to the Board outlining the various services they can provide. Newly hired hospital CEO George Rohrich has worked with the firm in the past and said, “we have to fix this shop. I’ve gone through this process before with QHR and it has worked”.

Much of the discussion during the meeting was centered on the hospitals declining financial status triggered by a fewer patients, less revenue and slow collections. As regards the construction of the new hospital building, QHR Regional Vice President David Yackell told the Board it’s possible to build a hospital now but noted “you can’t pay for it” in terms of servicing the new debt it will incur.

At least a few of the Board members as well as CEO Rohrich agree that a delay of one year in the construction of the new hospital may be the best course of action, while others are more inclined to move forward with breaking ground on the project this year.

The hospital board did pass a motion tasking Rohrich with negotiating a contract with QHR and requesting it be available for review and possible approval at the next board meeting later this month. The suggestion of whether to delay construction of the new hospital building will also likely be decided at the same meeting.

CEO Rohrich is interviewed by Dennis Rahm and tells LakeChelanNow that based on firsthand experience with QHC, he is confident their consulting work will far exceed the cost of their services. In this same interview, Rohrich explains why a construction delay may be the best course of action.

LCCH Board Chair Phyllis Gleasman explains that “we have a lot of work to do yet and a lot of real decision making”.

The decision making mentioned by Gleasman is likely to occur at the regular board meeting of the hospital commission on Tuesday, February 25.