Out of My Mind 7

The first golden shovels-full of dirt were turned by local dignitaries last week at the ground breaking ceremony for the North Valley Hospital expansion and remodeling project. Photo by Gary DeVon

The first golden shovels-full of dirt were turned by local dignitaries last week at the ground breaking ceremony for the North Valley Hospital expansion and remodeling project. Photo by Gary DeVon

New and improved hospital will benefit North County community for years to come

Many of us breathed an inward sigh of relief when we saw those first golden shovels-full of dirt being turned by local dignitaries marking the reality of North Valley Hospital’s expansion plans.

The project got off to a shaky start when the original bond failed and in the end what we’ll get is a pared back version of our original dream facility. But all things happen for a reason and with the added struggle to get the bond passed and the early question of where to put the parking, perhaps it was just God’s way of saying all good things must be earned. North County residents certainly earned a better hospital, one that will get them through the next 50 plus years, like the existing hospital did for our parents and grandparents.

Best of all, a modern hospital facility will allow patients to get to the care they need in what the late David Sicks, who worked so hard on the bond, described as the Golden Hour. That’s the critical time between the onset of the need for medical care and it being too late. The voters understood that we need a modern hospital right here in our corner of the county and they voted their own self-interest when they approved the bond. And rightly so.

Those first shovels-full of earth mark our own leap into the 21st Century in health care. The new and improved hospital will offer a chance for even better health care. It will also attract health care providers who might not have looked twice at our area and the hospital as it is today. Health care providers, like many of us, want to work where the best facilities and tools are available to get the job done. The new hospital addition and remodeled facility will be a major drawing card to get and keep top physicians, especially important now as some of our tried-and-true docs are starting to retire or cut back on their practice.

The closeness of modern medical facilities attracts much more than doctors, nurses and other health care providers. It also attracts people to your area. It makes the chance of businesses looking to relocate and hire local people much more likely when you have great health care facilities. In addition to good schools and infrastructure, potential employers looking to start up a new business often count the availability of a nearby hospital as critical.

There just doesn’t seem to be a downside to the hospital, unless you just like to drive further for your health care needs to be met. It’s just too bad we couldn’t also secure a Community Development Block Grant to pay for some of the things we will have to put off until more money becomes available. Federal stimulus dollars should be used for more than just transportation, they should also be used to improve our country’s schools and health care infrastructure. But that’s an argument for another time.

Everyone who voted for the new hospital addition and remodel, and that’s the vast majority of us in the north Okanogan, give yourselves a well-deserved pat on the back. You are all forward thinking in more ways than one.

About Gary DeVon

Gary DeVon is the managing editor of the Okanogan Valley Gazette-Tribune and celebrated his 25th year at the newspaper in August 2012. He graduated from Gonzaga University with a degree in Communications - Print Journalism, with an emphasis in photojournalism. He is a proud alumnus of Oroville High School. His family first settled in Okanogan County in the late 1800s. His parents are Judy DeVon and the late Larry DeVon and he has two younger brothers - Dante and Michael. Many family members still call Oroville home. He has a grown daughter, Segornae Douglas and a young granddaughter, Erin.