North Beach wants local medical services from a hospital district

The following letter from Randolph Peck of Ocean Shores was sent to Grays Harbor County Commissioners last week.

Please be aware that the North Beach area is circulating the following petition to be excluded from the Hospital District 2 Formation.

This petition is because the North Beach area is underserved by the GHCH and County for Emergency Services.

Grays Harbor Community Hospital used to run the clinic in Ocean Shores. They sold it to Dr. Holm and then he sold it to SeaMar. These are clinics that operate Monday to Friday and not 24/7. They offer basic services without any diagnostics other than basic lab procedures. However, if one wants an X-ray they currently have two choices. The first would be the veterinarian and the second would be the chiropractor.

State law only requires the Grays Harbor Community Hospital to form a Hospital District. It does not state how large that district need be. Since Grays Harbor Community Hospital basically has established all of its facilities in Aberdeen and Hoquiam and failed to operate like a regional medical service like other Hospital Districts, it should be established with a district that only comprises Aberdeen and Hoquiam.

Additionally, the whole reason the Grays Harbor Community Hospital wants to form the Hospital District is to gain the additional 15 cents per dollar provided to them for only the Medicaid patients. As you can see from the charts which were derived from the Washington Department Of Health website where GHCH reports their 2012 Year End Financial Report and 2013 and 2014 Budgets you can see that they stand to gain over $18,000,000 in increased Medicaid payments. This is from seeing their current Medicaid Revenue of about $66,000,000 at 55 cents per dollar. Simple math shows the results.

In a county that is currently depressed with at times the highest if not second or third highest unemployment, why would you tax citizens even more? Moreover, this Hospital District would impose an additional $2,547,634 at 50 cents per $1,000 or $3,821,451 per$1,000 at 75 cents drain on taxpayers. This amount is significant to the citizens that live on the North Beach.

One need only look at the Grays Harbor Public Hospital District 1 which has the Summit Pacific Medical Center, a $20 million facility that has x-ray, MRI, CT, Ultrasound, Medical Lab, and something that GHCH does not offer, Swing Door Hospital Beds, which is supported by the Hospital District levy of 50 cents per $1,000 that generates $454,393 to support their bond payments for the facility.

From the data supplied from the Grays Harbor County Assessor, GIS Department, and Washington Office of Financial Management you can see that the areas of the petition would contribute over 34 percent of the levy revenue and really have nothing to show for it. Even Ocean Shores alone represents over 21percent of the levy revenue. However, the North Beach has only EMS services which travel a similar 25 miles from the west to Aberdeen as does EMS services from Elma, with their facility that is located 25 miles to the east of Aberdeen.

What is even more shocking is that the tourist that flock to the beaches of the western portion of the County in numbers that can reach the 100,000 size there is no North Beach Emergency Room facility to accommodate the many Level 5 type injuries on weekends, evenings and holidays.

This has to change. The burden of of supporting the current level of services without benefit is impacting the North Beach areas ability to retain residents and attract new residents. Real emergency, diagnostic, and swing-bed services need to be established for the area to grow. Such growth would improve the Grays Harbor County revenue stream and also the local community revenue streams.

However, joining this Hospital District will not improve those revenue streams. Being a part of the Hospital District does not improve the revenue stream of the Hospital District significantly when compared to the much larger Medicaid revenue stream. What seems to have been lost in this rush to create this hospital district is that the 2014 budget submitted to the DOH shows them having a $122,000 Net Revenue. That is positive and not negative! People forget that an non-profit corporation basically supports their employees because they don’t have shareholders that require a dividend. The expectation is that all revenue is reinvested into the entity.

Moreover, the questions about how the assets, short-term and long-term debt, oversight, and actual board representation of ALL areas of the county has not been determined. The representation can be by districts and not at large. The current hospital could just contract with the board to provide services with little control and oversight by the Hospital District Board. One need only look at Skagit County Public Hospital District 1 or 2 and see how they deal with their local hospitals. One need only look at Summit Pacific to see their board meetings and minutes to see that their board is in a more hands-on oversight. The information is right there on their websites. You can see how Hospital Districts around the state have joined together with larger organizations like PeaceHealth and have gained better upstream and downstream services and outreach to rural areas.

Also, the focus of providing medical services to the citizens has evolved into moving downstream to the lowest cost provider. That means that smaller regional facilities that offer Level 5 triage and then transport as needed to a larger facility is the new model. The North Beach needs such a facility to grow. We are the highest potential for growth in the county. Homes mean both revenue and people. However, when actions by the County Commissioners repeatedly thwart those developments, we continue to lose our potential. This has to be one of those moments where the County Commissioners help the North Beach thrive.

Joining the Grays Harbor Public Hospital District 2 will not guarantee that development. Joining GHPHD2 will not bring services to the North Beach. They have shown us before in actions that we really don’t matter. Well we do matter. We are now saying “no.” We don’t want to be part of their Hospital District.

Thank you for listening.

Randolph J. Peck

Ocean Shores


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