Snoqualmie Hospital race Q&A: For Denton, new facility, affordable care a must

Karyn Denton - Courtesy photo
Karyn Denton
— image credit: Courtesy photo

Karyn Denton and Gene Pollard, the two candidates running for a seat on King County Hospital District No. 4’s board of commissioners, have very different views of the district.

Denton, the current incumbent in the district 3 seat, is a health care professional and board appointee. She prioritizes patients and supports the new hospital being built on Snoqualmie Ridge, saying the facilities will help meet local demand. As a commissioner, she wants to ensure access to good, affordable health care.

What is your background and qualifications?

I have lived in North Bend for the past 13 years and work as the Director of Tissue Services for the Puget Sound Blood Center.

I have 30 years of health care experience, with a bachelor's degree in Nursing from the University of Washington, and a Master of Business in Health Care Management from Jones International University. I have worked as an RN in direct patient care, and in management and administration in numerous health care settings. This spring, I was asked to serve as District 4 Hospital Commissioner and I accepted with pride. As a seasoned health care professional, I want to ensure that our community continues to have access to quality care that is local, accessible and affordable.

How can the hospital compete, or remain viable, against the traditionally metro-area hospitals that are now expanding into the Eastside?

We collaborate with hospitals, to assure patients receive the best care, in the most economic manner. An example is the Medicare “swing bed” rehabilitation program for post operative or long-term care needs. This program allows patients to receive care locally, and the acute care hospital referring the patient, avoids reductions to their payments from Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), by utilizing a critical access hospital’s sub-acute program. This keeps the patient close to home, rather than in a facility miles away. If the patient requires services we cannot provide, we collaborate with larger health care systems to deliver that service.

Is the planned new hospital something the hospital district needs? Why or why not?

Yes, the citizens of the district deserve to have access to quality, local health care. The new hospital will provide the necessary facilities to deliver the district’s programs, which are growing in response to demand. The new hospital will maintain bed capacity while providing patients with the services they receive locally for many of their health care needs. As the district has partnered with the larger hospitals, it has a wealth of resources that provide specialty services, such as cardiology, gastroenterology, orthopedic and obstetrics/gynecology services. The growth of these programs will continue with more space and patient capacity.

How will you balance the hospital's needs against a constituency that feels overtaxed?

The community needs and wants quality health care that is accessible and available locally. The district’s chief priority is to take care of its patients. The best way for the hospital and clinics to address increasing health care costs is to remain vigilant in managing expenses while never losing sight of its number-one priority, the patient’s well being.

What is the hospital doing well? What could it be doing better?

The hospital has done an exemplary job of maximizing the resources available while expanding programs and services. They have demonstrated a commitment to patient safety, quality and efficiencies. They have focused on the opportunities to collaborate with other health care partners to assure the district offers a comprehensive network of services. They have recruited and retained excellent staff and providers, who deliver care 24/7 and are committed professionals. Doing “better” for the district would mean serving more patients, to assure that our citizens receive the care their tax dollars pay for.

What are your goals as a hospital commissioner?

As a health care professional and resident, I believe I have a unique opportunity to serve the district in a manner which assures the community receives quality, comprehensive and affordable health care choices. This care may be local or in collaboration with a larger network, but the bottom line is the need to assure access to services, during a time of severe health care challenges. It is my privilege to have been appointed to this position and I look forward to the opportunity to help the district meet these challenges.

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