Commissioner Welch hospitalized since June 19 with heart problems

MONTESANO — Grays Harbor County Commissioner Herb Welch, 76, has been hospitalized at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle since June 19 with heart issues.

Family and friends say that Welch had high blood pressure, then he had low blood pressure, and he’s been in the intensive care unit of the hospital since late last week. He’s been under sedation for the past few days with doctors keeping a close eye on him. As of Tuesday, he was still being sedated.

“Right now, we need prayers for Herb,” fellow County Commissioner Frank Gordon said. “We need lots of prayers.”

A spokesperson with Harborview described Welch in “serious” condition, one step below the worst of the conditions the hospital is allowed to release to the media.

Welch was first admitted to Grays Harbor Community Hospital on Thursday, where emergency personnel discovered he had something wrong with the aorta of his heart. He was immediately airlifted to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.

The Grays Harbor Republicans sent out a missive to its members on Friday, noting that doctors were trying to get Welch’s blood pressure under control so they can deal with an issue he was having with his aorta. The Republicans followed up with another message on Saturday, noting that Welch’s wife Dolores was by his side and he had not improved, but he hadn’t gotten worse.

Commissioner Gordon and Commissioner Wes Cormier both say they are keeping track of Welch’s health, but remain concerned. Cormier said he was hopeful on Tuesday because Welch had shown minor improvements.

“There’s not been a whole lot of change,” added Gordon.

Welch looked to be improving healthwise since he was first diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer in May of 2010. Just a few weeks ago, Welch said he was feeling great.

He had said a doctor recently gave him a thumb’s-up and said he had beaten back the cancer. He had undergone intensive chemotherapy to the point where the cancer that had been spreading has shrunk to “pretty much nothing,” Welch said in a profile this past winter. The doctor even let him quit chemotherapy after the summer of 2012 because he was doing so well.

Welch was named chairman of the county commissioners in December of last year, a role he retained when newcomers Cormier and Gordon came on board. Welch was the first Republican county commissioner to hold office in 50 years. With Cormier, the two represent the first time since the 1930s that a majority of Republicans make up the county commission.