By Mike Pruett
It’s been a busy month for Three Rivers Hospital, as we work hard to provide information about the two levies we have placed on the November ballot to make important facility and equipment improvements and insure a sustainable future. We just wrapped up our forums in Winthrop and Twisp, and appreciate the community taking time out of their busy lives to participate in learning about their community hospital.
Some great questions were asked, and I would like to address a couple of them for the folks who weren’t able to attend. One of the questions asked was, “Is Three Rivers Hospital duplicating services that are already being offered, and should we combine our hospitals?”
While we have Mid-Valley Hospital in Omak and Three Rivers Hospital in Brewster, and both are offering similar services, Three Rivers Hospital is uniquely qualified to offer services tailored to our communities. In the last two years we have seen wildfires close the Loup Loup Highway, and we now more than ever realize the importance of having several hospitals to choose from in cases of natural disasters or severe weather which seem to be becoming the norm around here.
Most of us make a conscious choice to live in a rural area, which means we at times have to travel some distance to seek medical care. We live in one of the geographically largest counties in the nation, and Three Rivers Hospital serves the largest geographic area out of any public hospital in Washington state. So do I think that it’s unreasonable to have two hospitals within 45 minutes of each other? Do I think that we are unnecessarily duplicating services? No. If you look at the west side of the state in Snohomish and King counties, there are over 20 hospitals and urgent care facilities. In a time of expanding access to health care, do we really want to eliminate access?
Our hospital is exemplary, with a renowned obstetrics program whose reputation for setting the standards in OB care is recognized in institutions like Swedish Hospital. We have physicians like Dr. Maxwell and Dr. Fitzgerald, along with many other colleagues, who have chosen to live in our community and work at our hospital because of the hospital’s reputation for excellence. We were one of just a few hospitals in Washington state that was recognized by the Department of Health Newborn Screening Program, and our CEO Scott Graham was recognized by the Washington State Hospital Association for his service and contributions to health care. We have added Coast to Coast Physicians to staff our emergency department, and these are physicians who are board certified, who have and continue to practice at prestigious medical facilities like Deaconess, Harborview, and Seattle Children’s.
We are working on bringing specialist services to our community through tele-health, and continue to be innovative, forward thinking, and fiscally responsible in the way that we deliver health care to our community. We are dedicated to continuing our excellence, and maintaining essential services to allow all of us to continue to live in this rural area with access to quality medical services maintaining our quality of life.
However, in order to do that, we need to make some timely improvements to the facility and purchase or replace medical equipment in order to maintain standards of care of our patients. I urge you to go to our website at ThreeRiversHospital.net or go to our Facebook page to be an informed voter and make the best decision for you and future generations of the Methow to preserve this valuable community resource. You can find videos, podcasts and brochures on our website to help you make the right decision.
I wanted to end with giving my greatest thanks to our staff, who have been integral in helping us reduce our warrants by over a million dollars, who have earned recognition and awards from state agencies for our excellent patient care, and their commitment to the communities they serve. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to represent you and your wishes for your community hospital as hospital commissioner.
Methow Valley resident Mike Pruett is a member of the board of commissioners for Three Rivers Hospital.