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Posted on Apr 1, 2016

Confluence Health reaches out to local leaders

Officials at Quincy Valley Medical Center told a small crowd of community leaders on Monday that they are open to partnering in some way with the nearby Confluence Health, the largest multi-specialty medical center and regional hospital in North Central Washington.
However, what that potential partnership may look like will have to be determined by the local community, said Jeff Davis, vice president of business development for Confluence Health. It would be “inappropriate and arrogant” for him to tell the community what its health care service needs are, Davis told a crowd of about 30 community leaders gathered at the Quincy Valley Business & Conference Center.
“This is your community,” he said. “It is up to you to say, ‘This is what we think we need and want.’”
The meeting of local leaders came as the struggling hospital, which is some $3.6 million in debt to Grant County and is operating at a loss of nearly $112,000 so far this year, announced the results of a survey sent last month to 5,200 households in its taxing district.
Randy Zolman, chairman of the hospital’s board of commissioners, estimates the survey, which also was available online, had a return rate of 22 percent of the registered voters in the district. However, the 491 responses – 445 paper and 46 online – represent about 9.4 percent of those 5,200 mailed out.
The results show that 84 percent of respondents agree that an emergency room in Quincy is necessary. When rating health services in order of importance, responders said an emergency room is the most important service needed in Quincy. That was followed by, in descending order, urgent care, a clinic and long-term care.
The survey also asked respondents if they would support a bond levy to build a new facility. Some 56 percent of responders said yes, 23 percent said maybe and 21 percent said no. A bond levy would need at least a 60 percent majority to pass.
On Monday, Davis gave a presentation to the local leaders, explaining Confluence Health’s history and some of its partnerships around the area. Confluence Health serves Grant, Chelan, Douglas and Okanogan counties and has clinics in 11 communities.
Among Confluence Health’s partnerships is the Stemilt Family Clinic in Wenatchee, which provides primary care for Stemilt employees and their dependents. The clinic is jointly designed and equipped between Stemilt and Confluence Health. It is staffed and operated under a management agreement with Confluence Health.
Quincy leaders, who have been discussing what health care could look like in Quincy since last fall, have told Confluence Health that they need an urgent or emergent care service, primary care and diagnostics, Davis said. Once Quincy leaders settle on what local model is needed, Confluence Health “would welcome the chance to be invited into the discussion,” he said.
Davis left the meeting after his presentation to give the crowd some time to discuss next steps. Among those entities and organizations represented were the city of Quincy, Grant County, the Quincy Communities that Care Coalition, Grant County Fire District No. 3, Quincy Community Health Center, the Quincy Valley Chamber of Commerce and Yahoo.
Anthony Gonzalez, hospital commissioner, suggested the hospital could build a new facility and partner in some fashion with Confluence Health. Confluence Health officials in the past have told hospital leaders that they don’t want to partner with the hospital in its outdated facility, Gonzalez said.
“We put lipstick on an old cow every day,” he said of the hospital, built in the 1950s.
However, hospital commissioner Bob Poindexter doesn’t think the community wants a hospital in Quincy at all.
He pointed to the fact that voters recently passed a $107 million bond measure for the school district but did not pass a $2 million levy for the hospital two years ago.
“In reality, this community doesn’t want it,” Poindexter said.
Grant County Commissioner Carolann Swartz suggested leaders return to Confluence Health and ask what it would take for them to partner with the hospital and what kind of a facility that would require.
Port of Quincy Commissioner Curt Morris also suggested that a committee be formed to begin looking at what this new model of health care would look like in the community.
The hospital is not expected to talk about its next steps until a special meeting next week.
Meanwhile, the Port of Quincy, at its meeting on Tuesday, suggested that it and the city of Quincy send another invitation to Confluence Health, asking officials there to return to Quincy to help determine what its model for care in the community would look like.
The port then would pull together a team of local leaders, which would include the hospital, to talk to Confluence Health, suggested Brian Kuest, port commissioner.


— By Jill FitzSimmons,

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