Occupation: Communication Director, Washington State Dairy Federation. Former Associate Director of Government Relations at Washington Farm Bureau.
Relevant experience: Fifteen years of experience in public policy and communications at non-profits, primarily working in Olympia to advocate for the needs of family farmers and rural communities.
1. Moving forward after layoffs is difficult for an organization. What should the board do, specifically, to create a workplace culture that fosters teamwork?
First, the board needs to stop outsourcing jobs to other states or overseas. The jobs that were outsourced should have remained local, and layoffs must be avoided. We need to shift the paradigm so that we are expanding health care services on Grays Harbor, not shrinking them.
Second, the board needs to invite employees to identify improvements and options for saving expenses. It shouldn’t take millions of dollars and expensive consultants to figure this out. The hospital employees know the details of their work. The board needs to ask them to share ideas – then listen closely to them. The staff should not have to work in an environment of fear and uncertainty.
Third, management needs to be open to change and be thoroughly transparent with the public. We, the people, were promised that openness and public accountability would exist after the hospital transitioned to becoming a public district. Unfortunately, that openness never materialized, and problems continue. Changing the vision and culture of the hospital administration will help regain the confidence of workers and the public.
2. What are your thoughts about expanding Hospital District services in the Ocean Shores area?
Ocean Shores, Westport, and Montesano are all currently underserved by Community Hospital. Expanding district services to these communities is crucial. The public Hospital District needs to address the health care needs of the public in all parts of the district. I will meet and work collaboratively with community leaders across the district to prioritize the expansion of services so that people can have increased access to local clinics and other health care services.
3. What qualifies you to serve on the Hospital Board, and what district-related issues are important to you?
I am running for the Hospital District Board because I want to ensure our local hospital is on solid long-term financial footing and is delivering excellent, responsive, and patient-focused services to our local communities.
Like most people, I was alarmed when I heard Community Hospital lost $12.4 million in 2018 and borrowed $38 million. The hospital has continued to lose money this year, despite a continuation of increased funding from the Legislature. The hospital chose to outsource dozens of jobs to India and Utah rather than keep those jobs here. These types of layoffs and outsourcing are a blow to our local communities and undermine our confidence in the hospital administration. And we are still in dire need of recruiting and retaining medical providers.
I am no stranger to complex and complicated issues. I have more than 15 years of public policy experience dealing with the Legislature, working with coalitions, and seeking common-sense solutions. I have done fiscal analysis and worked on labor and employment issues. I favor a collaborative approach to solving problems and finding a workable path forward.
I serve on an energy advisory committee at the attorney general’s office and have been appointed to farm labor workgroups by two governors. I have served on an L&I workers’ compensation committee, on aviation biofuels workgroup, and on the board of Verify More to promote election transparency.
The District and Community Hospital need bold, creative leaders to meet these financial challenges head-on, to provide more public transparency and communication with the public, and to lay out a vision for the future.
As a hospital commissioner, I will prioritize complete financial reviews and transparency. I will push for an honest conversation about why medical providers and other staff are leaving. And I will work to ensure all parts of the district have access to local health care services.
We need to learn best practices from other rural hospital districts and put them into practice here. For example, Summit Pacific in Elma has done well, and we need to learn from their model.
We all have a vested interest in making the hospital district and its services strong, vibrant, and successful. Now is the time for tough questions, informative analysis, solid plans, and bold actions. If we don’t take these steps now, we may not get another chance. We need a change in direction, and I will serve as a catalyst for the change we need.
We need a healthy Community Hospital, and I’m excited to help preserve and improve our vital health care services in Grays Harbor.