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Lake Chelan area says yes to new hospital.

CHELAN -- Patience and perseverance. Those are the qualities the Lake Chelan Community Hospital and Clinics (LCCHC) have held since their first bond failed in 2006. Over a decade and two previous bond failures later, the LCCHC finally has a new hospital.

The proposition received 64.87 percent of the total 4,239 votes cast. The measure needed a 60 percent supermajority to pass.

One building in particular full of ecstatic people after the news broke was the Lake Chelan Chamber of Commerce office, which was filled with the LCCHC board members, administrators, staff and supporters from the community.

"Do you see how many people are in this room," LCCHC Board Chair Mary Signorelli said amongst the cheers in the building, "it took that plus all of the community to get on board and to make this a reality. It is great to see and as a group we have been working on this for 10 years. Finally we have the super majority."

In the hospital's previous two bond attempts they received 58 and 57 percent of the votes, so they were unable to move forward.

Signorelli attributed the difference between this vote and the past two to the hard work of the yes committee and supporting community.

"Our group of talented people were working enthusiastically to hit the social media and keep communication out there and to keep accuracy and consistently tell the truth," Signorelli explained.

"People know this is the right thing to do because we have not been consistently lying to them. When you drive and see whatever million the hospital is going to cost (on billboards) and they gets exponentially more than that as you go, and you hear ridiculous things on the radio, our community is smart and this vote is an indication of how smart we are."

The Vote-No side was not as pleased.

"Well, we're disappointed," Chelan County PUD Commissioner Ann Congdon admitted after the result came out. "I'm surprised, I thought it would be very close or I thought we would squeak by. I thought we got the message out there that the bond proposal is a huge financial risk for the community."

Although the vote has passed, Congdon was clear she wouldn't get behind the decision.

"I wouldn't say we will switch gears, we're still going to be involved, this is just the first step and there is no guarantee they will get the USDA loan," Congdon said. "It is going to be challenging for the hospital commissioners to lead effectively with the polarization of the community."

Congdon also hinted at a possible change of leadership.

"There are two positions this fall ... hopefully people in the community who understand financial risk and fiduciary responsibility will ... run. We need new leadership," Congdon stated.

Lake Chelan Community Hospital board member and retired Judge Tom Warren, said "I am ecstatic about the passage of the bond for a new hospital."

For the time being though, the LCCHC will go forward in obtaining blueprints for the new facility, get certified contractors to bid on it and then send in their final application for federal funding.

"It is a relief that this step has been taken and it has been successful," Guy Evans, member of the Citizens for a New Hospital Now committee said. "The commissioners have work ahead of them to work with administration and not only build the building, that is the easy part, but to also lead staff and providers into the new building and allow the caliber of the hospital to raise to a new level. Tonight represents a milestone, but the journey is not over yet."

The project will take about 12 months to get the preliminary things done and then two years for construction.

Caption: ZACH JOHNSON/WBJ From left are: LCCHC CEO Kevin Abel, COO Brad Hankins, Wellness Coordinator Agustin Benegas, CFO Vickie Brodie, Dr. Ty Witt, pharmacist Christy Nielsen and LCCHC Board Commissioner Tom Warren celebrate after the special elections results were announced April 25.
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Author:Johnson, Zach
Publication:Wenatchee Business Journal
Date:Aug 1, 2017
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