Election Questionnaire: Public Hospital District 2, Position 5


Rocky Rocquin

Rocky Rocquin, of Aberdeen, is the principal at Aberdeen High School and has worked for the school district for 16 years. His wife, Judy Rocquin, is the organizational development director for Grays Harbor Community Hospital and has worked in healthcare for 38 years. Rocky Rocquin said he has never worked in the medical field, but his wife has helped him develop an understanding of the issues the hospital faces.

Some Grays Harbor citizens have argued that parts of the county — such as Ocean Shores — are under-served by Grays Harbor Community Hospital. Do you see that as a problem? How would you fix that issue?

Community Hospital exists to meet the health care needs of the entire community. A Public Hospital District will ensure representation from those areas in the community which have not felt they have been well served in the past. The commissioners will have a unique opportunity to learn the needs of these communities and work together to develop and deliver services to meet those needs.

Will becoming a public hospital district do enough to stabilize the hospital’s finances? Does more need to be done?

Becoming a public hospital district is a step in the right direction. The fact is that over 70% of those who seek care at Community Hospital have Medicaid, Medicare, Healthy Options or self pay (no pay). That is not going to change in the near future. To continue to provide the range of services needed in our community, we have to obtain additional funding from the community and State to support this population.

Our community has lost multiple employers in recent years that provided private medical coverage which helped offset some of the uncompensated care in our community. The fiscal challenges the hospital currently faces occurred over the past few years and it will take some time to address these challenges and move to a more secure financial footing. We also need to continue working with our state representatives and the legislature to ensure they understand the needs of our community and partner with them address those needs.

Many Grays Harbor citizens believe that there is a shortage of healthcare providers in the community. As a commissioner, how would you change the situation?

This is a large concern. We do have limited number of providers and we know that many primary care physicians are at or near retirement age. It is challenging to attract and retain health care providers in a community which is still doing it best to recover from the loss of so many family wage jobs. Many providers, especially those newly graduating are not interested in setting up an independent practice. They are seeking employment.

The only way Grays Harbor Community Hospital can afford to recruit and retain new providers is to be financially able to pay them a competitive wage. As a commissioner I will work with hospital leadership to ensure that a percentage of the resources from the community and state are earmarked for physician recruitment.

Pete Scroggs

Aberdeen resident Pete Scroggs has lived on Grays Harbor for 51 years. He has a bachelor’s degree in business administration and runs his family’s furniture store, Kaufman Scroggs. Scroggs has served on the hospital’s Board of Directors since 2007 and is the current board president. He said he hopes to use his knowledge of the hospital to bring new commissioners up-to-speed and guide the hospital through the transition period.

Some Grays Harbor citizens have argued that parts of the county — such as Ocean Shores — are under-served by Grays Harbor Community Hospital. Do you see that as a problem? How would you fix that issue?

The need for more services in some areas is a valid point – but one without an easy solution. Medical buildings are expensive to build and maintain, and providers are in very short supply (see final question below). While I think it will be hard to expand services in the short run, I think we can get creative and consider ideas such as rotating doctors through existing clinics, and taking part in programs for new doctors doing their residency in rural areas.

Will becoming a public hospital district do enough to stabilize the hospital’s finances? Does more need to be done?

Becoming a public hospital district will do more to stabilize the hospital’s finances than any other option on the table, but no one can say if it will be enough because of other potential changes: Medicare cuts, state and federal budget cuts, gain or loss of local jobs with medical insurance, etc. One thing it will do is to put us on level footing with the dozens of other public hospital districts in Washington, so that if more cuts come along, we won’t be alone in asking for help. I ‘m in favor of a public hospital district because I believe it’s our last best chance to avoid cutting crucial services such as 24/7 on-call surgery, and delivering babies.

Many Grays Harbor citizens believe that there is a shortage of healthcare providers in the community. As a commissioner, how would you change the situation?

I recently attended the Rural Washington Hospital Conference, and one of the top challenges most hospitals listed was physician shortages. I don’t think we’re going to fix that problem anytime soon, but we can manage it by employing more Nurse Practitioners and Physician Assistants for primary care (which Community Hospital is already starting to do). If we become a public district, we can also partner more with other area public hospitals to share resources and doctors. Technology will also play a part, with specialists connecting to patients remotely using video screens and cameras. This is a national challenge we will need to stay on top of.

Bruce Daniels

Aberdeen resident Bruce Daniels is a Navy veteran who works for Value Ford in Elma as a sales consultant. He spent his 30-year career working in both management and sales. Daniels previously served on the Klamath Basin Home Builders Association’s Board of Directors.

Some Grays Harbor citizens have argued that parts of the county — such as Ocean Shores — are under-served by Grays Harbor Community Hospital. Do you see that as a problem? How would you fix that issue?

I don’t know that they are under-served. I believe that each individual has the right to seek medical attention wherever they wish, it is their choice. That being said, if it is truly the desire of the people of Ocean Shores, and, they are indeed “under-served”, then perhaps a clinic or mobile clinic could be put into place to serve those communities that feel or are deemed under-served. I would say though that I would shy away from proposing any “fixes” until a budget analysis and audit is performed. A performance audit is probably a wise move also. We have all witnessed the fact that we cannot spend our way into prosperity whether it be on a federal level or at a hospital district level.

Will becoming a public hospital district do enough to stabilize the hospital’s finances? Does more need to be done?

I really doubt it. Many will find this peculiar coming from a candidate for Hospital Commissioner, but I don’t think this is a good “fix” for the hospital’s current financial situation nor do I believe it’s good for the community. I believe that the situation may worsen if it passes. There are other avenues that should be explored prior to deciding on the Hospital District option. Those include going back to the legislature and asking for funding again and/or looking for a new owner. Many people don’t know that the Franciscan Group was very interested in purchasing the hospital just a couple of years ago and the proposal was rejected by the current board. That or something similar could have been a very good solution for everyone.

Lastly on this subject, there are Hospital Districts failing shortly after passage in California leaving taxpayers on the hook for the debt. I worry that is what will happen here as hospital districts are heavily dependent on tax revenue – something we are very short of here in the harbor. I just can’t see this working and I believe it needs a lot more research and number crunching before we fill in that Yes bubble.

Many Grays Harbor citizens believe that there is a shortage of healthcare providers in the community. As a commissioner, how would you change the situation?

That is a very good question. I believe that the people of Grays Harbor will probably all agree that we really want to keep our Hospital and want high quality health care. I also believe that we can all agree that qualified medical doctors and nurses are the key to that quality of healthcare. For example if another larger entity, such as the Franciscan group, purchases the hospital in a reorganization state, they have the ability to bring in high quality health care that is currently only available in larger communities. Many healthcare workers are currently commuting from the harbor to Olympia, Tacoma, and Seattle to work in facilities there. If we can bring those groups here to the harbor, we can bring our workers closer to home as well.

 

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