Should have talked with Eagles from the beginning

Regarding the packed out Tonasket City Council Meeting, Tuesday night, Nov. 27th, the comments by the public, both from the hospital and the Tonasket Eagles, Aerie 3002, were interesting to be heard face to face. It appears there have been some very disappointed recipients of false promises. That always gets the same result.

Warner Bartleson, Administrator, candidly stated we either get the Whitestone Hotel or the Eagles but chose not to use the words eminent domain. Third alternatives were offered by the public and private businessmen interested in upgrading the hospital without losing the largest social and charity center of Tonasket, the Eagles. The Eagle’s representatives promised, faithfully, that not another bond would ever be passed again if their property is taken after being promised otherwise. The Eagles state officer gave reports of the millions of dollars donated to hospitals from their benefits. One speaker didn’t think too much of the jobs or “types” of people that the town would lose if the Eagle’s shut down. We are all in this together and I believe NVH attempts to serve all types. A great many people are both hospital employees and Eagle’s members.

Over the months much conversation and written letters spin out the story of either getting the planned upgrade or losing the hospital we have. That, along with removing the Aeneas Valley voters, accomplished a “yes” vote on the third try. It is what it is; a ploy. If we don’t give them what they want, they’ll shut the hospital down. Bogus.

The Eagles, on the other hand, took the promises of safety from eminent domain as fact; an incorrect assumption in business. We are all at risk, at any time, to be dispensed with for the greater good. Every nation, at some time, has done this and so will the figureheads of their institutions. Uncannily power gets out of control even in this small frog pond.

The 200 plus jobs are doing fine now with the hospital as it is, with its current parking. The Eagles, its staff and membership of 800 plus are doing fine with existing arrangements.

Please explain the bigger picture, plainly, so I can understand each of the new bonds that will have to be passed to continue this project until our grandchildren are gray. Is it true that $750,000 would be the budget to buy Eagles or Whitestone property? I hardly think that is fair market value for either one. And that still leaves the Nau building.

If Second Street is vacated and the Business Office is taken out, adding considerably to the parking, why must more land be commandeered at all? How many extra beds are we adding (a couple) and what extra services and one more delivery room?

A citizen mentioned the hospital “business” which brings to mind the possibilities of removing all the paper jobs that take up resident and patient care rooms. The administrative paperwork could be essentially even in a different town and keep the care facilities tied together opening back up the rooms for care as they were designed. Is another delivery room going to generate more births for which to bill? (There are only 120 a year). Will Omak’s patients come running back to Tonasket if the same administration is in a shiny new building? Will surgeons come running north away from their choice of practice areas? How many of the NVH employees use NVH or do they choose Omak? How about that?

Do we need more and re-vamped emergency rooms? YES. Is there room to extend behind the existing ER? YES. And yes, the old hospital could use upgrades to rooms and probably the old boilers too.

The consensus was to postpone the vote on the street closure until January 22. It was stressed that board meetings are open to the public and that the public doesn’t attend well. Point was made by the public also that decisions outside these meetings happen with frequency and, if the Eagle’s had been included in the discussions of their demise in the first place, that they would have had time to plan appropriately. Now, tomorrow, another day forward possibly speaking to each other… honestly.

Julie Pratt

Tonasket

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