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Election Questionnaire: Public Hospital Position 4


DAVID MONSEN

David Monsen is a Lutheran clergyman currently serving as the St. Andrew Episcopal Church interim priest-in-charge. He previously worked at other local churches, as the Grays Harbor Community Hospital chaplain and as the Harbors Home Health &Hospice chaplain. He is a member of the hospital’s Board of Directors. Monsen lives in Hoquiam with his wife, Linda Monsen.

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 believe that there are places in the hospital’s service area that may not have adequate medical services. I believe that hospital has an ethical imperative to assist communities in the recruiting process for those services. If the economics of an opportunity to provide direct PHD No. 2 owned facilities are favorable, I would be supportive of such a solution. I remain convinced that GHCH serves the acute care medical and surgical needs of the citizens of Grays Harbor.

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

The creation of Public Hospital District No. 2 will not by itself be enough to stabilize the hospital finances. The designation of “sole community hospital” will provide an increase in Medicaid payments to 125 percent of normal Medicaid reimbursement, but it will not solve the financial need. The future commission will early on need to address the issue of increased property tax assessments to offset charity and non-payment care provided to members of our community.

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?

Certainly the current need for more primary/family care physicians continues. Yet, there are bright spots with the addition of specialists such as urology and gastroenterology. The hospital will need another general surgeon in the future in order to maintain the level 3 Trauma designation. As a commissioner, I would continue as the current hospital board has done, to annually review immediate and five-year community needs analysis and encourage recruiting efforts. Recruiting efforts require significant funding that must be built into both the strategic plan and operational budget of the hospital district.

ANDREW BICKAR

Hoquiam resident Andy Bickar is a chef and restaurateur. He owns and operated Rediviva, located in Aberdeen, and Frontager’s Pizza, located in Seabrook. Bickar has served on the Grays Harbor Community Hospital Foundation board for the past year and a half.

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 completely understand the sentiments about communities being underserved. The fact is true, Ocean Shores is underserved. There are only a few doctors and clinics to support the resident population, much less all the visitors to their community. I, however, don’t feel this deficiency is because of the hospital. Our local communities supply the demand, frankly the doctors go where the business is. Would Ocean Shores be a great place for an urgent care? Absolutely! But I feel the hospital does its part to serve those individuals that need the services they provide, even if it is an ambulance ride away. Small clinics wouldn’t provide the same 24/7 trauma services that the hospital currently does and Olympia is a long ride from Ocean Shores or Quinault.

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

Will becoming a public hospital district do enough to stabilize the hospital’s finances? Absolutely not. I will put us on the right path though. The fact is 70 percent of the hospital’s business is reimbursed with less money than it cost to provide the service. I’m a small business owner, as are many of us. If our company sells a product for less than it costs, how long can we stay in business? The rules and rates have changed, we must adapt our facilities to meet these changes so we can return the reimbursement rates to cover costs. That helps to solve one of the issues; budgeting, recruiting, and providing an all around better hospital visit are a few others.

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 agree with the fact that our area is underserved. Private doctors are just like every other business, they follow the demand and practice where it makes the most sense for them financially. There are ways we can improve our current level of healthcare though; If the hospital were to become public, finances would shift to become profitable, this alone would let them recruit better doctors, surgeons and specialists, and improve their levels of care across the county . The hospital has already been recruiting extremely skilled staff from throughout the country, and I am very proud of the steps they have taken to improve their level of service. Their partnership with other healthcare providers has excelled that level even more. We now have access to some of the best specialists from Seattle and Tacoma. While they are not here full time like our other great doctors, it allows those special procedures to be able to be done right here at our hospital, and not have to worry about travel and overnight stays away from home. Our public hospital would improve on these relationships and recruitments even more, funding an ever improving hospital, completely transparent to the public. It is our health that is in jeopardy, we should have a say in how we want our future to be.

John Sherrett’s name also appears on the ballot. Sherett did not return his questionnaire to The Daily World.

 

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