Cheri Van Hoover throws hat in ring for Jefferson County Hospital Commissioner

Cheri Van Hoover of District 2 has decided to run for the seat of Jefferson County Hospital Commissioner Position 1. Cheri will be running against long time Hospital Commissioner Tony DeLeo.

Cheri brings a wealth of real world medical experience to the position. She has been a working mid-wife for over 30 years, including a teacher of midwifery in the area. As a person who’s son was born with assistance from a midwife, I can attest to the value these women bring to the medical practice. Cheri has also been a counselor in a community-based mental health crisis intervention residence and an educator & health policy professor,  nationally recognized for instructing medical, nursing, and midwifery students.

Her professional leadership includes midwife practice administration, along with having been the chair of national committees for the American College of Nurse-Midwives and chair of the Ethics Task Force for Northern California Kaiser Nurse-Midwives Peer Group.

She has also run small businesses in the county, having been an owner of several small businesses spanning 40 years. Currently she owns the  Great Blue Heron’s Nest B&B, Port Hadlock.

Her community experience includes work with the Tri-Area Garden Club (past president) & Master Gardener Foundation of Jefferson County (past board member), work with salmon habitat restoration groups, volunteering with the Friends of the Jefferson County Library and the Olycap Community Thrift Store along with efforts to support the Jamestown/Sequim Drug-Free Community Coalition.

While Mr. Deleo has given a lot to the community over the years, in attending hospital commission meetings I can say that he seems out of step with the current issues facing the Commissioners. His focus on keeping the commissioners out of any areas of controversy, such as throwing their support behind single payer efforts, seems at odds with the community demands. While newer members of the Board such as Kees Kolff work to promote better community healthcare access,especially for lower income patients and have fought for more transparency to collections, along with challenging the hospital on issues such as major changes to the INR lab, Mr. Deleo has been reluctant to support these efforts. His point of view publicly appears to be that the only role of the Commissioners is to either hire or fire Mr. Glenn (the JCH CEO), and do the bare minimum needed to satisfy the requirements of the position. While we expect that the bare minimum is always achieved, it seems we need more in this era.

The challenges that this county’s hospital is going to face in the coming years under the current President and his Congress mean we need a commissioner that is going to fight for the patients and the hospital. This may mean challenging bureaucratic dogma (which is not unique to this hospital) as well as fighting hard at state and federal levels to maintain current funding and find better ways to provide healthcare for all our citizens. 

That effort needs new blood, but not just a new face, someone who understands the concerns of the medical community along with the concerns of the hospital. Every medical professional I have talked to in the last number of years have had nothing positive to say about the world we are creating of healthcare in America. We are far behind all other industrialized countries in our indices of health. Congressional meddling in our healthcare has created a system where the government doesn’t even attempt to negotiate drug prices for the spending of our tax dollars. The electronic record system is incredibly problematic for practitioners and we are moving farther and farther away from private practitioners to a system of huge regional health hubs that treat patients more and more like a number, and creating a system that has no way of properly understanding the prices you will be charged for your work. There are very few examples of corporations who treat their customers like this. For good reason.

Jefferson County Healthcare under Mr. Glenn is doing very good work overall given their resources. However there are a number of areas that could be improved, and there are independent watchdog groups that are working to prod the hospital in ways that they feel can make it more customer oriented. Cheri Van Hoover is someone who supports these efforts and will work with us to help oversee the healthcare system here, which is also one of the jobs of the Hospital Commissioners. 

For those reasons, I support Cheri Van Hoover and urge Mr. DeLeo to stand down and retire from the Board, allowing Cheri to run unopposed for this position. We thank him for his decades of support, but feel it’s time for a new approach.

You can learn more about Cheri at the following link, and donate to her campaign.

http://cheriforhealthcom.businesscatalyst.com/about-cheri.html

Reassessing the Jefferson Healthcare & Providence relationship

Now that the Seattle Times has brought out a truly shocking series of articles (see other posts on this site)  on the neurosurgery unit of Providence/Swedish, the question is “What should Jefferson County’s hospital do about this?” We have a working relationship with these hospitals. From what I understand they send us doctors for certain shortages we face from time to time and we also are tied to their electronic records systems, called EPIC.

I have discussed with a number of medical professionals who have read the articles and they were in  agreement that this is more than a simple story that can be easily brushed over. To them it’s a deeply concerning one. Some of them said, “Yes, it’s been understood for years that the implementation of a numbers based goal for surgical units is going to drive more surgeries.” Jefferson Healthcare themselves uses the system, and evaluates their doctors on these units.

That the neurosurgery unit of Swedish Cherry Hill has been run like a machine on overdrive, churning through questionable surgeries for the sake of racking up maximum reimbursable value for the hospital and doctors themselves, should force us to discuss the future of the relationship with the Seattle hospital system with which we have allied ourselves. Would you want to see yourself or any loved one of yours sent there after reading this damning expose that took over a year to uncover?

I have a personal dog in this hunt. My best friend was in the neurosurgical unit at Cherry Hill during the last half of 2016, fighting multiple brain cancer sites and a chest tumor. He and his partner went through a great deal of stress over the pressures that the staff were putting on him to undergo more brain surgeries after he was deemed terminal. I told them to push back and discuss with the staff the quality of life issues that he would face one way or the other.They  finally found a doctor at the hospital  who sided with them against the surgical teams. Apparently there were heated words in meetings with the patient present about the choices being made. My friend died at home in January without undergoing further surgeries.

The Jefferson County Healthcare CEO Mike Glenn and the Hospital Board of Commissioners needs to take some time, but come forward and help us understand that they are concerned about this state of affairs and questions need to be asked as to whether our hospital should continue sending patients to Providence and Swedish Cherry Hill.

More thoughts on this issue will be forthcoming.