Valley hospital director resigns

SNOQUALMIE - The board of commissioners for King County Public Hospital District No. 4 voted earlier this week to accept the resignation of Snoqualmie Valley Hospital Superintendent Jeff Lyle.

Alan MacPhee, who was chief financial officer for the hospital, was named interim superintendent. MacPhee said he and Director of Patient Care Service Diane Sherbon will be running the hospital as a partnership until the board makes a permanent decision about the superintendent position. In the meantime, the hospital has hired a personnel manager and will be looking for a temporary bookkeeper.

Hospital Commissioner Fritz Ribary said the board decided in early December to instruct its attorney to draft a termination agreement for Lyle who had worked at the hospital since 1997. Ribary said Lyle was instrumental in getting the beleaguered hospital back on its feet after being shut down twice for financial problems.

"The job Jeff did early on and getting us back on our feet is really appreciated," he said. "He did a lot for the hospital."

In November, however, the board heard many complaints from staff following a week of mishaps at the hospital. After an E. coli outbreak was reported by the city of Snoqualmie on Oct. 31, hospital staff were not directed to boil tap water until two days later. Also, a boiler that had not worked properly since earlier this summer had not been repaired and was not giving off sufficient heat. An anonymous tip on Nov. 3 led the city and state to investigate, causing the hospital to shut down its in-patient care until the boiler was fixed later that week.

At a board meeting during the first week of November, hospital employees complained about the state of the facility and protocols for care. Complaints ranged from light bulbs that had never been replaced to feelings of embarrassment and frustration from working at a hospital thats reputation was being thwarted by mismanagement.

Ribary said that after talking with staff in the following weeks, the board believed that a change needed to occur.

Commissioner Dick Jones said the hospital had changed in the last six years and that the role of the superintendent needed to change along with it.

"We needed to go in a different direction," said Jones.

The board instructed the hospital district's attorney to draft an employment separation agreement for Lyle, who signed it on Dec. 19. Ribary said the termination was based on provisions in Lyle's contract, but some changes were made. After Lyle and the board had some time to work out the details, the letter was approved with a unanimous vote by the board on Dec. 29. Lyle received a three-month severance congruent to his final annual salary of $100,000. His final date of employment was officially stated as Nov. 30.

"[This] mutual agreement is better for everybody," Jones said.

MacPhee said the hospital will be working hard in the coming months to make needed changes. He praised the medical staff and said there is a good future for the Snoqualmie Valley Hospital.

"We want to be the facility the community expects us to be," he said.

Lyle could not be reached for comment.

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