GHCH chooses to live on

Editor’s Note: This piece was submitted by the entire board of commissioners for Grays Harbor Hospital District 2. Their names are listed at the bottom.

Whether you refer to us as “Community,” “The old St. Joe’s” or “The hospital on the hill,” Grays Harbor Community Hospital (GHCH) has potentially impacted your family in some way. You may work here, you may have been born here or this may have been the last place you saw a loved one. Many of the people reading this will have had an experience at GHCH and with your help, we can continue to impact lives for many years to come.

As rural health care fights for its life, so must GHCH. According to studies, more than 30 million Americans do not live within an hour of a trauma center. Because of GHCH, you are not one of them. Accidental deaths are 50 percent higher in rural areas without a hospital than those in urban areas. Because of GHCH, you are not represented there either. Currently, there are 673 rural hospitals at risk of shutting down. With your help, the hard work of our employees, and continued support from our legislators, we will not be No. 674.

As the governing board of the Public Hospital District No. 2, we want you to know we are seeing extraordinary progress in all areas of the hospital.

August showed the first positive operating margin in more than a year which can be attributed to the fact that we are currently operating more efficiently than 75 percent of like hospitals across the nation.

After lobbying for financial assistance with our more than 78 percent Medicare and Medicaid population, and the support of state and federal legislators, we will see an annualized improvement in Medicaid reimbursement through a budget proviso passed in 2018.

Since transforming Primary Care Clinics into Rural Health Clinics, we will realize an annual increase in reimbursement from Medicaid and Medicare patient visits.

A highly focused team, including physician champions, achieved a cost reduction in services and supplies showing an annualized savings of more than $1 million.

Through a very difficult workforce reduction that impacted every department of the organization we were able to achieve a total savings of more than $6 million.

None of these improvements could have happened without the support of our physicians, providers, staff and administration team. The greatest work has been done by those who have been asked to do more with less while never compromising quality of care. Our providers and employees are our greatest asset. They cling to your kind words of support and understanding. They have dedicated hours beyond their call to maintain a stellar level of care. We are so proud of the work they accomplish day in and day out.

This environment and these improvements will be impossible to maintain if our community does not rally behind and support the institution and its mission to maintain quality health care in Grays Harbor. This means we need you to use this facility for your health care needs. Mammograms, X-rays and blood work can all be done right here, close to home. Our specialty services such as urology, gastroenterology and orthopedics have some of the most gifted and dedicated physicians in the state, ready to care for you and your family.

To begin compromising our district and its current alignment would be financially detrimental and jeopardize the health and wellness of the entire county. Our main focus for growth and success is to end the funneling of patients outside our county borders for care in Olympia and sometimes further. What we call “outmigration” will be the heart of our efforts as we work to further develop this organization. In order for this to be successful, we all must consider Summit Pacific a partner in this endeavor, not a competitor.

We are fortunate to have Summit Pacific available to our community for issues that do not require immediate surgical intervention or specialty care. They have superb providers and a striking facility. Their new wellness center will certainly be a benefit to many in our area who are able to utilize their services. Summit Pacific. should be viewed as complementary to, not a replacement for, the services provided by GHCH.

GHCH has some of the lowest surgical site infection rates in the state of Washington, compared to National Health and Safety Network data. GHCH’s Emergency Department provides more than 27,000 patients per year access to emergency services that are imperative to the health of this community. GHCH offers a Level III Trauma Center with 24/7 surgical and specialty medical care, delivers babies, and provides pediatrics and ob/gyn services.

With the full support of the community including councils, businesses and citizens, we can be successful in not only caring for our sick, but recruiting and retaining providers to ensure our health and wellness. This will also be imperative in attracting those who see Grays Harbor as a potential site for new businesses or simply a new community in which to live.

If you have questions about the hospital, would like someone to come and speak to your civic group or would like to speak to your Public Hospital District No. 2 Commissioners, please reference our website for information at www.ghcares.org.

The board of the Hospital District 2 Commission consists of Maryann Welch, Andrew Bickar, Miles Longenbaugh, Michael Bruce, Becky Walsh and Melanie Sturgeon.