Forks Hospital Rises to Occasion

by Jim Casey

FORKS — Forks Community Hospital lived up to its middle name again during this week’s snowstorm and the power outages it caused. A 17-bed acute-care facility, the hospital turns itself into an emergency kitchen, shelter or both when weather attacks the town.

After snow felled power lines and the town of about 5,000 people went dark, “we had to set up a little emergency shelter in our ambulance building,” said hospital administrator Camille Scott. More than a dozen residents showed up at the facility Tuesday night before power was restored and they could go home, she said.

In the meantime, hospital staff called or visited new mothers and their infants and people whose health might be at risk from the cold and darkness.

Community canteen

“Naturally, people came and ate,” Scott said, as the hospital repeated its unofficial role as community canteen. When high winds darkened the town about two weeks earlier, the hospital dietary department served more than 2,000 meals to Forks folks who showed up expecting to be fed.

The hospital has no official obligation to feed or shelter people, Scott said. It just does it.

Without a Red Cross chapter or a big-city homeless shelter, the hospital turned to the state Department of Natural Resources. DNR responded with cots and sleeping bags it had stockpiled for fire crews.

“The weather put a hardship on the town,” Scott said, “but not the kind of hardship that causes negativity. It just causes growth.”

New surgical unit

And no sooner had the crisis passed than the hospital dedicated its new $1.9 million, 4,500-square-foot surgical unit. About a hundred people braved the elements to attend the ceremony, Scott said.

“During that lousy weather, in they came,” Scott said.

Meanwhile, the hospital attended to several people who’d slipped and fallen on icy pavement or who had suffered cardiac problems, possibly from shoveling snow or perhaps from the stress of repeated power outages.

“That’s why I love rural health care,” said Scott, who said she’d turned down offers of administrative jobs at higher-paying urban hospitals. “You can really feel that you can give in a rural community,” she said, “because you’re looking at your neighbor eye to eye.”

Source: Peninsula Daily News, Issue 288

WWRHCC Receives Grant

The Western Washington Rural Health Care Collaborative (WWRHCC), a group of 8 CAH hospitals, has received a grant from the USDA-Rural Utilities Service for $248,400.00. The purpose of the grant is to provide the funds to help the “Collaborative” connect to Tele-Specialties via Tele-Radiology, using Tele-Health technologies. The Collaborative is building a Tele-Specialty Cooperative (The Co-Op) to meet our communities’ much needed access to specialty healthcare.

The five members of the WWRHCC involved in this project are Ocean Beach Hospital, Willapa Harbor Hospital, Mark Reed Hospital, Morton General Hospital, Forks Community Hospital. Also included is Garfield County Public Hospital District, Pomeroy, WA a CAH that shares many of the same characteristics of the five WWRHCC hospitals. Currently, many of the WRHCC’s hospitals have a Radiologist part-time, and one not at all. When radiology studies are done, in the absence of a radiologist, reports have to be taken to another facility to be read, increasing the turnaround time for reports back to the primary care physician anywhere from 2 to 3 days.

To make this work, the plan is to build a Teleradiology (Network), which will provide “real time” x-ray interpretations and access to radiologists (who are in short supply). Having the patient’s x-rays transmitted to a site that has a Radiologist present gives the quick reports needed for family practice physicians to plan their care. The Collaborative will use radiologists who contract with WWRHCC members to provide services to those other members who have limited or no coverage; a website will be developed to assist with access to radiologists schedules.

Once the connections have been developed for radiology, the plan is to include other specialty practitioners. The important concept of this project is to allow for “sharing of scarce resources” such as Radiologists, but also the access to specialists for consultations via telecommunications. The ability to provide specialty care in our communities will decrease the inconvenience and costs of traveling to urban areas for care and reduce costs of care while improving the overall quality of care provided. The members of the Collaborative are looking forward to making this project a reality.

Source: WRHA newsletter, February 2006 [pdf]

Summit Pacific Medical Center

Mark Reed Health Care District consists of a Critical Access Hospital and a healthcare clinic. Our hospital is unique to our area in that the average waiting time in our 24 hr. Emergency Department is around 15 minutes. We serve the district of East Grays Harbor; however people from the coastal towns and Mason and Thurston counties utilize our facility as well. People like the friendly and efficient care they receive at Mark Reed. They also like that often they can drive here, be treated for non-life threatening emergencies, and back home in less time than they would have waited in line at many other ER’s.

Ocean Beach

Ocean Beach Hospital & Medical Clinics is an integrated healthcare organization committed to providing high-quality, patient-focused care. Our team of skilled professionals provides a wide range of medical services from emergency care to wellness programs.

Founded in 1934, Ocean Beach has grown into one of the largest employers in South Pacific County. We are a community-owned-and operated hospital with two medical clinics led by an elected board of commissioners. In 2008 the hospital completed an expansion and upgrade of the Nursing Wing, which was the final phase of an extensive 8,400 square foot construction project designed to help meet the needs of our growing coastal community.

Morton General

East Lewis County celebrated its grand opening of the new Morton General Hospital in January 2007. This brand new, 25-bed Critical Access Hospital offers area residents and visitors a wide range of health care services ranging from obstetrics to general surgery.

Mason General Hospital

MGH provides exceptional healthcare, as well as 24/7 emergency services. MGH is known throughout Washington as one of the highest rated rural hospitals in the State. Many people move to Mason County for the quality of life, and soon, they too learn about the quality of healthcare available at Mason General.

Forks Community Hospital

Forks Community Hospital is a 15-bed acute care inpatient facility and 20-bed long-term care facility serving approximately 11,500 residents of western Clallam and Jefferson counties (the “West End”). The West End is isolated from the rest of the Olympic Peninsula by the vast land holdings of Olympic National Park, Olympic National Forest, and the State of Washington’s Department of Natural Resources.

WhidbeyHealth Medical Center

WhidbeyHealth Medical Center

Since opening in 1970, WhidbeyHealth Medical Center has grown to meet the needs of the Whidbey Island community, making it a leader in community-based healthcare. We are committed to providing high quality healthcare to the residents and visitors of Whidbey Island through the excellence of our physicians and our hospital, owned and operated by the residents of Whidbey Island. WhidbeyHealth is a Medicare Certified Public District Hospital.