Seattle Magazine’s top doc to answer questions at free women’s health social Aug. 26

Lake Chelan Community Hospital & Clinics (LCCHC) will host a free Women’s Health Social at Tsillan Cellars’ Sorrento’s on Monday, Aug. 25. The event, which will feature urogynecologist Dr. George McClure, begins at 12:30 PM. Dessert will be served.

Dr. McClure has been named one of Seattle Magazine’s “Top Doctors” two years in a row, and he will be available at LCCHC through October. He will give a short presentation at the upcoming social, followed by a Q&A session.

No questions are off limits. Heavy bleeding, Leaking when you laugh. Painful sex.

“Ask what you’ve been afraid to ask,” said Dr. McClure, who specializes in both medical care for more mature women and pelvic floor reconstruction. “Chances are the person sitting next to you has wondered the same thing.”

Many women’s health topics are “taboo” subjects, even though they are very common. For example, a third of women suffer from periodic bladder mishaps. Bladder leakage especially affects women over the age of 55. Studies show, however, less than 40 percent of affected women will mention their problem to a doctor or nurse. They may incorrectly assume it’s part of growing older or may be too embarrassed to ask about it, said McClure.

The wellness team at LCCHC wants women to know there are ways to manage, or even cure, women’s health challenges such as bladder leakage. “We hope women come to the social and ask questions so they can experience the highest quality of life,” said McClure.

To make an appointment with Dr. McClure at Lake Chelan Clinic, please call 509-682-2511. For more information about the event, contact Celeste Hankins at 509-726-6006.

Impact Community Health at Aug. 8 Focus Group Meeting

Lake Chelan Community Hospital & Clinics (LCCHC) invites you to a Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA) focus group meeting on Thursday, Aug. 8 from 5:30 – 6:30 PM at the Chelan Senior Center.

Every three years, the hospital and regional partners from Chelan, Douglas, Grant and Okanogan counties collaborate and perform a CHNA to better understand north central Washington’s community health needs. The organizations use gathered information to provide direction and impact population health.

The region developed its last CHNA in 2016. The four highest priority needs identified at that time were mental health care access, access to health care, education and obesity.

The 2019 CHNA steering committee is now collecting community input about what impacts health in Chelan County and, specifically, in the Lake Chelan Valley. The upcoming focus group will help the committee determine the community’s biggest health needs and provide direction for improving health and well-being in the LCCHC hospital district.

Focus group participants will identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats related to health in our community. Please join the group to improve the health and wellness of the Lake Chelan Valley. The Chelan Senior Center is located at 534 E. Trow.

For more information or to RSVP, please contact Agustin Benegas, LCCHC Outreach Coordinator at abenegas@lcch.net or 509-682-8525.

Board approves block design for new hospital building

The Lake Chelan Community Hospital & Clinics Board of Commissioners voted to approve the block design for the new hospital building at their regular meeting on Tuesday, June 18. The design allows for future expansion. Click here to see the DRAFT document.

CEO Steve Patonai will retire this fall

From the LCCHC Board of Commissioners
With good wishes as well as regret the Board of Commissioners of LCCHC announces the planned retirement of Chief Executive Officer Steve Patonai, effective this fall.

“While we have known all along that Steve would be with us for only a short time, his excellent service and vision for our Hospital District, patients, community and employees, have been so respected and appreciated. We are glad he has chosen to live in Chelan and wish him the very best in his retirement,” said Phyllis Gleasman, Board Chair.

Significant progress toward long-term financial health has been made during Mr. Patonai’s tenure. “With Steve’s assistance the Commission developed a new vision to achieve the highest quality and service standards, greater financial strength and readiness to build a new hospital facility and health care delivery system,” said Gleasman.

“The new hospital design is underway and construction will begin in the Spring of 2020,” said Mary Signorelli, a member of the Facilities Committee. “We are looking as far ahead as possible to ensure the new facility will address community needs and align with the future of health care,” she added.

To help the hospital and clinic survive and thrive in today’s uncertain health care environment, Mr. Patonai developed a new administrative team and processes, according to Gleasman. “We recognize and value the many changes Mr. Patonai has brought to our Hospital District while facing many challenges. Employees are working more closely together, blending their skills to help improve the quality and efficiency of LCCHC services for our patients,” she said.

Mr. Patonai moved to Lake Chelan in early 2018 with the intention to retire within a short time. The Board is now finalizing a succession plan to hire a new Chief Executive Officer who will continue to work on the established vision for the future of our Hospital District, Gleasman added. She emphasized that the senior administrative team will be working closely with the Board in the selection process. The community is welcome to attend the open public Board meetings on the fourth Tuesday of each month at 1:30 PM in the hospital board room.

Colon cancer, colonoscopies and one woman’s story

On June 20, Lake Chelan Community Hospital & Clinics will be the happy host of a 10-foot tall pop-up, super-sized colon. Visitors can tunnel through the 20-foot inflatable large intestine, which weighs almost 150 pounds, to learn more about pre-cancerous conditions and the various stages of colon cancer, as well as cancer prevention and early detection. The event will be held at the Chelan Fire Station from 4–7 PM, during the evening farmers market at Riverwalk Park.

We invite shoppers with enough guts to visit Polly Polyp’s market stand and follow the poop emoji trail to the Super Colon, where they will have a chance to walk through the interactive exhibit. Visitors can also win prizes and enjoy family-friendly health, wellness and prevention booths.

Colon cancer, cancer of the colon and rectum, is the third most common cancer in the United States, according to the American Cancer Society, and the second leading cancer killer in the country. It’s also one of the most preventable and treatable cancers if detected early, says LCCHC general surgeon Dr. Tabetha Bradley, because it begins as small, benign polyps that can easily be removed before they turn into cancerous cells.

Colonoscopies are the gold standard in colon cancer prevention. When you have a colonoscopy, your doctor inserts a long, flexible tube called a colonoscope into your rectum. The scope has a tiny video camera at its end that shows an image on an external screen, so your doctor can view the inside of the colon, also called the large intestine. During the procedure, your doctor looks for polyps and remove any she finds using a wire tool with a loop on the end, threaded through the colonoscope. Removing polyps means they won’t turn into cancer.

However, things intestinal still remain a taboo subject for most people. That may be why about one in three adults from 50 to 75 years old still hasn’t been tested for colorectal cancer, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More than 90% of cases occur in people who are 50 years old or older, and they often don’t show any symptoms in the early stages.

One Woman’s Story
When 52-year-old Tamara Wolf of Manson ended up in the emergency room at Lake Chelan Hospital with an ulcer a few years ago, the doctor recommended she get a colonoscopy. Like many patients, Tamara opted out. “Everyone told me the prep was awful, and the test was invasive,” she said. “And I didn’t have any symptoms. I didn’t think I needed one.”

A busy grandma of six, Tamara was enrolled in an online veterinary assistant training program. Between studying, grandmothering and selling her homegrown blueberries at the local farmers market, two years passed before she saw a doctor again, this time for a minor hernia.

During the exam, Dr. Bradley, like the ER doctor, recommended a colonoscopy, but Tamara turned it down again. However, when labs uncovered serious anemia, Bradley and Tamara’s family physician Dr. Tobe Harberd insisted she at least take a stool sample test. The results showed blood in the stool, and her medical team refused to operate on the hernia until she had a colonoscopy. Tamara finally agreed to the test.

Harberd performed the screening. As he carefully thread the colonoscope through the ascending colon, he found a mass so large it blocked the camera’s passage. He had to reverse and exit after clipping a snippet to biopsy.

Tamara waited impatiently for the pathology results. When the phone rang the next day, Harberd had bad news. Tamara had Stage 2 colon cancer, meaning it had already spread throughout the organ. “My whole world crashed down around me,” she said. “I started to bawl. The first words out of my mouth were, ‘Am I going to die?’”

Bradley operated on Tamara soon after, removing her ascending colon, part of her small intestine called the cecum, and her appendix. Tamara was lucky. The cancer hadn’t spread outside of the bowel. They caught it just in time, she said. “If I’d put off a colonoscopy one more time, that would have been it.”

Now, almost two years cancer free, Tamara lives with a heavy routine of tests, blood work, CT scans and colonoscopies. She worries daily about the cancer coming back. It especially hits first thing in the morning, she says, when she wakes up. Every time she feels an ache or a twinge, she wonders if it’s cancer. Tamara has become an advocate for colon cancer screenings and would love to see Dr. Harberd have an overbooked colonoscopy schedule.

“This all could have been avoided if I had agreed to a colonoscopy when the doctor first suggested it,” she said. “They would have found the polyps earlier and removed them. If I had any advice, it would be to get your colonoscopy as soon as you can. It’s not that bad, and it may save your life.”

You are at higher risk of colon cancer if you’re 50 or older, are overweight or a smoker, or have a personal or family history of colon polyps or colon cancer. Younger people are exhibiting polyps more often, and researchers think it may be related to diet, lack of exercise and alcohol consumption. While many people with colon cancer do not experience any symptoms in the early stages, symptoms include rectal bleeding or blood in the stool, persistent abdominal discomfort, weakness, unexplainable weight loss, a change in bowel habits or stool consistency. Contact your doctor if you experience these symptoms.

Ross Hurd again named one of nation’s community CIOs to know

For the eighth time, Ross Hurd, Chief Information Officer at Lake Chelan Community Hospital, was recognized as one of the nation’s Community Hospital CIOs to Know by Becker’s Healthcare. Hurd was one of 71 CIOs listed.

Hospitals and health systems rely on CIOs and IT department leaders to develop long-term technology strategy and oversee EMR implementation, as well as support telehealth, data-gathering and cybersecurity initiatives. Those who lead community hospital and health system IT departments encounter unique challenges in connecting staff members at many locations and providing access to care for rural Americans with limited resources.

The recognized professionals were set apart by outstanding recognition they’ve earned and exciting new projects they’re piloting. Hurd has served as LCCHC CIO since 2006. He oversees the implementation of new technologies and seeks out partnerships with larger hospitals in the state to expand service offerings. For example, the hospital’s telestroke program gives Lake Chelan clinicians real-time, 24/7 access to Seattle-based Swedish Medical Center’s stroke team.

New hospital building updates presented at Community Forum, groundbreaking Spring 2020

Chelan, WA –  Over 100 community members attended a Lake Chelan Community Hospital District Forum May 8, where Board Commissioners reported on Board committee work and the status of the new hospital building project. Live-stream video of the Forum by LakeChelanNow.com was viewed over 1,500 times and is available on their Facebook page.

Board members gave short reports on each of the Board’s five committees, followed by question and answer sessions. Committees included Community, Quality, Finance, Affiliations and Partnerships, and Facilities.

Near the end of the Forum, Commissioner Mary Signorelli reported on Hospital District facilities, including the new building project. Hospital District residents voted in April 2017 to approve a bond to help fund construction of a hospital facility on hospital-owned property at Chelan Apple Blossom Center, near Wal-Mart, across from the Columbia Valley Community Health Clinic.

Signorelli discussed an updated timeline from Bouten Construction, general contractors. Within the new timeline, anticipated groundbreaking will be Spring 2020, with project completion projected for Fall of 2021.

Increased construction costs have necessitated downsizing the new hospital building from what was envisioned two years ago, explained Signorelli, who said the Board is determined to stay within the $44.5 million budget they presented to voters. In order not to exceed that amount, the square footage has been scaled down from the 77,000 square foot proposed in 2017 to approximately 54,000.

The Board recently approved the hospital building’s space program for the reduced square footage, and architects are now working with hospital staff to move forward with the schematic design phase.

The new building will have 21 private inpatient beds instead of 25 (private and semi-private) in the current hospital. The 21 beds will include nine medical/surgical/OB beds and 10 Sanctuary (addiction recovery unit) beds, and two conversion beds that can be used for either service. There will also be two oversized Operating Rooms suites and a procedure room, along with two observation beds. The Emergency Department, which will be larger than what is in the current building, will have seven rooms as well as space for triage.

The Business Office, Emergency Medical Services and Clinic are not included in the square footage of the new hospital building, but the LCCHC Board and Administration are exploring options for bringing those services to the Apple Blossom campus as soon as possible, said Signorelli.

The new hospital building will provide sufficient services and capacity for the next five plus years, with growth areas to be pre-designed for expansion when needed, said Steve Patonai, CEO.

Updated Timeline

Board approves new hospital building space program

At the regular Board meeting April 23, 2019, the Board approved the new hospital building’s space program for approximately 54,000 square feet, projected to cost just below the $44.5 million budgeted amount. The Board also gave approval for the district to proceed to the building’s schematic design phase.

The new hospital building will provide sufficient services and volumes for the next five plus years, with growth areas to be designed for expansion when needed. The building will include a total of 21 hospital beds (to include nine medical/surgical/OB beds, 10 Sanctuary beds, and two conversion beds that can be used for either department), two large operating room suites and a procedure room. There will be seven emergency department rooms and triage, as well as all required and anticipated outpatient and ancillary services for future growth, said Steve Patonai, LCCHC CEO. The clinic will be located on the hospital campus in the future.

The Board will hold a District Forum for the Hospital on Wednesday, May 8 at the Lake Chelan Senior Center from 5:30 – 7:30 PM. Board members will give presentations and answer public questions at the meeting.

District Forum on the Hospital

The LCCHC Board of Commissioners voted at their regular March 26 Board meeting to hold a District Forum on the Hospital Wednesday, May 8 at the Lake Chelan Senior Center at 5:30 PM to share their vision and and answer public questions. The Board scheduled an open workshop meeting on April 16 from 4:30 – 6:30 PM to prepare for the District Forum.

Jane Jedwabny, 2018 Caregiver of the Year

Congratulations to Jane Jedwabny, 2018 Caregiver of the Year. Each year, employees at Lake Chelan Community Hospital & Clinics (LCCHC) nominate and vote for four caregivers of the quarter. In 2018, the four recipients were Jose Sausedo, surgical technician, Valerie Rife, Sanctuary intake coordinator, Brad Hankins, clinic administrator, and Jane Jedwabny, Sanctuary director.

At the end of the year, employees vote again to choose the annual winner from the four quarter winners. This year’s winner was Jane Jedwabny. Jane is the director of Sanctuary at the Lake, LCCHC’s dual-diagnosis chemical dependency unit.