NVH prepares to move forward after day in court

TONASKET – A full day in court on Tuesday, March 19, resulted in a pair of favorable outcomes for the North Valley Hospital Board of Commissioners, which according to board chairwoman Helen Casey will allow the board to begin moving forward with finalizing the closure of the district’s Assisted Living facility.

In a pair of separate hearings in the Okanogan County Superior Court, the Concerned Citizens for Tonasket Assisted Living’s request for an injunction to temporarily halt the closing was denied, and a petition from Rosa Snider and Danny Gratrix requesting the recall of the entire board of commissioners was withdrawn. The hospital was represented by attorney Mick Howe during both hearings.

Casey said that the hearing requesting the injunction went through the full process.

“It was a matter of due process, of presenting your case and being prepared,” she said. “Basically (the ruling was) that we were doing what was right as far as the process. There are people that want to find something different. But when you look at the total picture, the hospital acted in accordance with all of the proper procedures to do what we were doing.

“(Superior Court Judge Henry) Rawson was very fair to both sides,” Casey added. “He said he saw things for both sides. It appeared as though he’d read all the materials and was well-prepared. I thought it was handled well, regardless of the outcome.”

For the recall hearing the prosecuting attorney prepared a synopsis of the allegations to present to the court, which was then ruled upon by the judge.

“Mr. Rawson was very clear in the process of how it worked, the ramifications both financial and for outcomes, and he explained it to both sides.

“There was some conversation, about two or three discussions with the judge about whether they should go forward or not, and they chose to withdraw. Once he called the hearing to order, he was very explicit that once they withdrew they could not go back.”

Casey said that, for those wanting changes in the makeup of the board, there was still plenty of opportunity for that to happen with two seats up for election this fall.

“There are opportunities to get involved in these decisions,” she said. “That’s the way, if you’re willing to make the time commitment, that you can make a difference.

“I’m very concerned for how this has affected our community. We’re trying to do what’s right. It’s right that people have the ability to make these decisions (to oppose the closing), but you need to have all of the facts.”