Sunday, April 21, 2024

Three Rivers Hospital board revisits bond issue

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BREWSTER – Since the failure of its $72 million building bond in last November’s general election, the Three Rivers Hospital (TRH) Board of Commissioners has been engaged – starting with a Jan. 15 strategic planning meeting – in discussions about the facility’s future.

No one involved with TRH operations disputes the critical need to upgrade the current infrastructure. With 44 percent of voters supporting the bond, based on last November’s results, the challenge is finding the key to convince another 16 percent needed to reach the 60 percent margin of approval.

Among the topics discussed is mounting a new bond campaign for the November 2024 ballot. The board approved that proposal only after knowledgeable stakeholders were consulted for their analysis and advice. Key among those is David Franklund of KDF Architecture, who designed the “new but modest public facility” at the center of the 2023 bond measure.

Summary and Next Steps

“As a public hospital serving the underserved, we need to find a way to stay viable for our community,” the board concluded. “Going forward, we will work along parallel tracks for branding, a new building proposal, and reaching out to groups who have alternative views.” 

Toward that end, the following action items will:

  • Restart the New Building Steering Committee meetings.
  • Consult with our legal team about rebranding.
  • Meet with Dave Franklund to discuss design modifications. 
  • Reach to Peter Morgan and his group (North Central Washington Accountable Communities of Health) for further understanding on what they would like to see happen with healthcare in the region.
  • Reach out to Matt Ellsworth with the Association of Washington Public Hospital Districts (AWPHD) on how to proceed with a new campaign. 
  • Meet with other facilities in the region to get their perspectives. 
  • Explore ways to eliminate the barrier of transportation and work with local public transportation and TranGo.

Progress is happening on several of those fronts as reported by TRH CEO Scott Graham at the Commissioners meeting last Wednesday, Feb. 27.

Graham said he spoke with Franklund about revisiting the original design with “a sharpened pencil proposal for the offering we will put on the ballot in November.”

“He is very open to doing that,” said Graham while being aware that “the cost-based reimbursement was based on square footage and services,” so any refinements must bear that qualifier in mind, so that a scaled-down design does not reduce the maximum amount the hospital can get back it the cost report.

Grahan said he also conducted phone meetings with Morgan and the CEOs of other hospitals and engaged with the group that opposed the new building in favor of a more regional alternative.


Graham advised the board that the Washington State Hospital Association (WSHA) has reintroduced the Distressed Hospital Fund. If it meets the fund criteria, TRH will apply for the additional funding it would provide.

In other developments:

  • TRH had a public information table at the Path to the Podium youth basketball tournament held at Brewster High School in early February.
  • TRH will host a hole at the ninth annual Brewster Boys and Girls Club Golf Fundraiser at Gamble Sands on April 22.
  • A new TRH clinic billboard along Highway 97 is generating some public response.

Mike Maltais: 360-333-8483 or michael@ward.media

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