Anonymous NVH complaint yields no violations

TONASKET – North Valley Hospital CEO Linda Michel reported at the Thursday, May 10, Board of Commissioners meeting that the hospital had recently been paid a visit by the Department of Labor and Industry thanks to an anonymous “report of concern” filed with the department.

Michel said in her written report that the complaint listed concerns with safety inspections in the second floor and basement remodels; the qualifications of in-house employees who had done electrical work in the building; and questioned who was responsible for bonding and insurance.

Michel said that the Labor and Industry inspector did not find any violations, affirming that all inspections had been completed and logged as required.

“The L&I inspector did meet with staff to check on all of the concerns,” she said. “(He) informed me that he was unable to respond to the person who submitted these concerns since the submission was sent anonymously.”

In a separate instance, a letter was received by a local business signed by someone claiming to be one of the hospital leadership team, who said she had sent no such letter. That incident is under investigation, Michel said.

Addressing food issues

Michel said that, in response to low scores on patient satisfaction surveys, she invited two women from Summit Healthcare in Arizona to evaluate and suggest changes to the North Valley Hospital food service.

“I chose these ladies because I worked with them for nine years,” Michel said. “… When (Food Services Director) Syble Hartley was employed by Summit Healthcare in 2001 the scores from the Food Services Department were the lowest in the facility. Today they are at 99 percent and have been there for some time.”

Michel said that Hartley and Debbie Goodman, a cook, spent a week with the NVH food services staff, providing training and discussing changes and concerns about the changes. Michel and Kelly Cariker were to meet with the staff to begin implementing changes, which she said would not only improve food quality but reduce expenses.

“Food costs were reduced by $85,000 at Summit Healthcare (which serves about the same number of patient meals as NVH) because they fixed only what the patient wanted, and therefore did not end up throwing food away,” Michel reported. “It has been proven over and over again that if patients get food they like and enjoy, they heal faster.”

Sink hole

In an occurrence similar to last year, a sink hole opened in the ground between the main hospital building and the administration.

Unlike a year ago, this one was not caused by a water leak.

“It appears that when one of the buildings was constructed the old wood and bricks from the demolition were used as fill for that area,” Michel wrote. “As the wood decayed, it produced the sink hole.”


The hospital’s warrant level dropped by $200,000 since the previous board meeting, approximately matching its low for the year at $1.361 million.

The NVH Board of Commissioners next meets on Thursday, May 30, at 7:00 p.m.

About Brent Baker

Brent, is a former reporter/photographer for the Gazette-Tribune and sometimes works as a freelance sports reporter for the G-T. Prior to working at the G-T, he was the sports editor for Sunrise Publishing from 2000-2005 in Michigan. He subsequently owned and operated Buckland Media, a high school sports website, in Michigan until 2010. He and his wife Kim, who have an adult son, moved to Tonasket in 2010. Brent worked as a full time reporter/photographer at the G-T from 2011 - 2014).

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