Hospital board unhappy with affiliation proposal, sets meeting to hear more from Regional Health

Despite a negative reaction to the only affiliation proposal the hospital has received, the Public Hospital District No. 4 Board of Commissioners voted Sept. 14 to invite representatives from Regional Health to the Snoqualmie Valley Hospital on Oct. 25 for an in-person presentation during a scheduled work meeting.

Snoqualmie Valley Hospital saw interest from five organizations during the request for proposals period, but only received a proposal by the deadline from Yakima-based Regional Health.

Regional Health has recently purchased Yakima Regional Medical and Cardiac Center, Toppenish Community Hospital, and is the parent company of Sunnyside Community Hospital.

Affiliation consultant Sarah Cave met with the Snoqualmie Valley Hospital commissioners last week to discuss the proposal and decide on next steps. The commissioners were not happy with the proposal for several reasons, including the youth of Regional Health as a company, the quality of the proposal and the benefits offered.

Commissioner Gene Pollard introduced a motion to table the proposal and suspend any billable activity from the consultants because he felt the proposal didn’t meet the board’s criteria. Pollard criticized the proposal for not offering a strong branding opportunity and for not tackling some of the financial risk.

“We need financial help and branding, the brand of Regional Health Yakima is a negative factor for us,” he said. “They are in identity crisis now, they spent two paragraphs in here talking about the biography about the person they are engaging to do a branding study… They are in worse financial shape than we are.”

Commissioner Dariel Norris seconded the motion and explained why she was not satisfied by the proposal. She shared many of the concerns Pollard did, including the age of the organization.

“I have issues with the financial (records) that I have looked at, I have issues with the information that I have gotten about Regional Health,” she said. “In fact, Regional Health just developed and got their license in December of 2016, and we are accepting financial that have 2015, which means they are from Sunnyside Hospital, they are not from Regional, they are from somebody else.”

However, David Speikers proposed an amendment to delay the motion to table the proposal, until after representatives from Regional Health met with the board in person. Speikers explained that the board should move to the next step to hear from the respondents themselves and ask them questions.

As an example, Speikers said that the Regional Health should be asked if they would be willing to put $10 million into an escrow account for the completion of a surgical facility.

“Put $10 million where your mouth is, put it in an escrow and if you don’t come forward with the surgical we get the money,” he said. “There are more ways to look at this that we can win-win…. They’ve got several properties they have tons of equity in, they bought everything 15 cents on the dollar, so they’ve got a ton of capital available to get loans. And if they can’t make it, we get $10 million. Why can’t we propose that?”

The amended motion passed in a 5-1 vote, with Pollard voting against.

Cave gave an overview of the process thus far and explained that another meeting and presentation from Regional Health would be an opportunity to get more answers to all the questions the commissioners still have relating to everything from financial stability to re branding initiatives.

Emma Herron made a motion to invite Regional Health to present their proposal at the Oct. 25 work study session. The motion passed unanimously with Pollard also adding that he wanted to meeting to be located at Snoqualmie City Hall in order to increase the chances Valley citizens will come to the meeting. Parker said he will look into using another venue for the meeting with Regional Health.

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