Interim hospital administrator introduced

I will stay as long as it takes, that way NVH can really take their time and find the right replacement — someone who is committed to staying in the area a long time…” Ron O’Halloran, NVH Interim Administrator 

TONASKET – Interim Administrator/Superintendent Ron O’Halloran was introduced at the March 12 North Valley Hospital District board meeting, along with his wife Ann, both of Curlew. O’Halloran will be filling the position vacated by Linda Michel, beginning April 1.

“I will stay here as long as it takes, that way NVH can really take their time and find the right replacement—someone who is committed to staying in the area a long time,” O’Halloran said. “In rural areas, usually you can recruit the doctor or the nurse, but it’s hard to recruit the spouse. Often at this level of management, the spouse has their own management position that is hard for them to leave, or they just prefer to remain in a less rural area.”

O’Halloran worked as CEO of the Ferry County Public Hospital District #1 Republic for 11 years before retiring. He said he started out in the health care field as an RN in 1974 before taking some business ed classes and working his way into health care management.

A quality report of the Rehab Department was presented by Duane Verhasselt, Physical Therapist; and Moira Hirst, Utilization and Discharge Planner with the Swing Bed and Rehab Programs. Hirst said the swing bed program was created by federal legislation in 1982 to prevent patients having to come back to the hospital right after going home. Medicare allows patients to have a stay of three days for acute care, then they can transition to swing bed for up to 120 days. NVH increased the number of licensed swing beds from five to 25 in 2012, but according to Hirst just ten beds are filled the majority of time. Hirst said the numbers have increased dramatically, though; from 95 beds filled in 2010 to 157 in 2014.

“I get told this is the only place patients want to come back to, because of the quality of care found here,” said Hirst.

Verhasselt reported an increase in swing bed use of 16% from the first quarter of 2014 to the fourth quarter, attributing it to word of mouth and other facilities such as Central Washington Hospital and Sacred Heart becoming aware that patients have skilled nursing available at NVH. He said patient exit surveys at NVH are 99.9% positive responses.

The swing bed and rehab programs include physical therapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy and skilled nursing as well as end of life comfort care. Hirst said before a patient is released, a home visit is made to make sure the patient can do the chores in their home, with any concerns addressed at the hospital prior to release.

NVH is a 25-bed Critical Access Hospital with an additional 42 beds in the extended care facility.

O’Halloran said he was impressed with NVH’s policy of having staff participate in giving reports and updates.

“I was brought to tears with a nursing home presentation today because you people are doing such a great job,” said O’Halloran, adding that he was looking forward to getting to know everyone beginning in April.

“My door may not be open 24/7, but I am available 24/7 to provide assistance if you need it. My job is to help you do your job,” O’Halloran said.

Cash on hand as of March 12 was $1,190,325.43.

“I love to see the million dollar mark,” said Board Chair Helen Casey. “There’s a lot to be said about that. It has taken hard work and a lot of commitment to get there. It takes this whole group to make it happen, and you can’t not do your job for even one minute without it falling back.”

Courtesy staff members Robert L. Zurcher, MD, and Tony Crawford, MD, both of Coast to Coast Healthcare, were appointed to Medical Staff.

Purchase of a Healthcare Safety Zone Portal for $5,000 was requested by Tina Smith and approved. Smith said the new, web-based software would be more efficient for everyone, streamlining the process “to get us where we need to be with the quality improvement process.”

Foundation Board Member Dixie Brown said she working with others to research replacing a 39-year old bathtub in the long term care division. Brown said they were hoping to get a new walk-in tub, and the bathroom also needed remodeled. She said collection jars have been placed in the community, with costs expecting to be as much as $30,000.

The next board meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. on March 26.