TONASKET — North Valley Hospital board members voted to spend $25,000 on a recruiting firm to look for an obstectrics doctor with c-section abilities at their regular meeting Thursday, March 28.

The move to hire a recruiter comes following a decision made by NVH partner Confluence Health to no longer recruit for a healthcare provider with c-section abilities.

The board and administrators debated three possible options before making the decision to recruit. One was to delay the decision and wait for more information from Family Health Center and Confluence Health. Another option was to cease the ob program and discontinue efforts to recruit and accept the Aug. 1, 2019, cease date. The third option was to recruit a family practioner and recruit one to three providers based on the needs of the program.

NVH and Three Rivers Hospital CEO Scott Graham said feedback from the community is to try and save ob services at NVH, but he is “keenly aware there is either a moderate or a lot of financial risk” for NVH. Graham said the hospital would need the cooperation of Confluence Health if NVH hires an ob doctor, to share call volume.

Graham pointed out if the hospital were to hire two family practice obs, remodeling of the hospital would need to be done to provide a clinic for them.

“The cost could be high, we would have to support four family practice obs who don’t have a clinic base here yet,” said Graham.

Chief Financial Officer Alan Ulrich said he was working on getting accurate information from Medicaid and Medicare to add to the analysis.

“It would be almost two million dollars for four, plus capital cost to update the facility and hire support staff,” said Ulrich.

“There are going to be some unknowns, so if what we now know is enough, the next thing is to start recruitment,” said Coo John McReynolds.

When questioned during public comment if remodeling for a clinic would impede progress on a new surgery unit, McReynolds said he got further clarification from the Department of Health, and NVH can continue operations with no changes.

“There is nothing wrong with our current surgery unit, we just can’t do certain operations. In the winter we struggle with humidity, but there is nothing in our current site that has to happen,” said McReynolds. “The DOH wants to be accomodating and make sure we are able to continue offering services.”

Lakeside Pharmacy owners announced they have received their state license and are a month or two from opening Tonasket Pharmacy. Pharmacist Bob Tomazic said the pharmacy, located on Whitcomb Ave in Tonasket, is working on insurance contracts now.

Tonasket Pharmacy will be open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and will do free deliveries by mail or to locations within certain areas.

Visit tonasketrx.com or their Facebook page for more information.

In other business, commissioners

Heard from Graham on the Strategic Plan and asked him to move forward on it.

Heard from Ulrich cash flow is at 115 days.

Learned a 2019 Community Health Needs Assessment, available in English and Spanish, is located on the hospital’s website. The survey is to assess the most pressing health care needs in the community.

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