Work together, or lose it all

Dear Editor,

This is to the Underserved Citizens of North Okanogan County: I would like to take this opportunity to appeal to the citizens of the northern part of our county. Most of you must know that Okanogan County and hence its small population is one of the most underserved counties in the United States by its demographics and size. I do not understand why the citizens of the northern part of this county would want to become more underserved. This will definitely happen if you do not pay attention to what is happening right here with your – and I mean YOUR – Hospital and Nursing Home. It is quite evident that people have not educated themselves. The bottom line is this: if we are not careful with our negativity about and our neglect of what we have, we will lose it: not just the Nursing Home, but the Hospital.

I am currently on the Save the Nursing Home Committee and I worked at North Valley Hospital and Extended care for 37 years. I would like to say that this small town Hospital has been the best employer I experienced in my 41 years of Nursing. It provides care that I have not seen equaled in many places, including places in New York, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, South Carolina and in this state. We in the north county have been very lucky and I wonder how many of you know that, or care. We should remember that when our Hospital was started that it was the only state of the art hospital of its kind east of Seattle. It continues to be an excellent giver of care with customer service as its main goal. Veterans should be paying attention to this because you could lose your clinic.

I wonder how many of you realize what would happen here if we lose not just our Nursing Home, but our Hospital. It is a proven fact that small towns who lose their hospitals can become ghost towns. By their nature hospitals are usually the largest employers in the small towns or region they serve. This means that when they fail, then the businesses around them lose business, the schools lose enrollment, churches lose members, people and new businesses will not come here and on and on. Local economy suffers greatly.

I would like to challenge you. I understand that there are legitimate grievances and that the Hospital has made mistakes, but it is time to rise above all of this and work together as a small town family to protect what we have from harm. We should be thinking of our children, our elders and our Veterans right now. We need to educate ourselves and stand together to save what we have. We can start by reading the Nov. 13, 2014 article in USA Today about rural hospitals and what they are facing. Dig deeper, search the internet, read the Gazette. Come to or call the Hospital and Nursing Home and ask how you can help. We must make the time to support what we have, or lose it.

With Love and Concern,

Karen Schimpf

Retired Resident Care Manager at the Nursing Home