Contact: Carey Guhlke-Falk
Access to quality and affordable healthcare in rural areas has been a topic of conversation in politics and the media for some time now. The question of how to recruit and retain quality providers, afford state-of-the-art equipment, and provide the myriad of programs needed to address population health issues is constant. Another constant is change. Whether it is policy changes or changes in care standards, those in the healthcare industry can always anticipate that things will, and do, change.
The local hospital district, Lincoln Hospital and Clinics, has navigated those changes and challenges since the hospital doors opened in 1963. Over the most recent years, change has been the constant theme for the organization. Tyson Lacy, appointment as administrator in 2016 following Tom Martin’s retirement, was just the start of what has been a large scale change throughout the organization. “Our previous administrator, Tom Martin, was an incredible visionary and ensured we were positioned for growth,” Lacy said. “We have capitalized on the work he did while also adding a focus to employee development and retention and have seen the start of some great successes because of it.”
Last fall, they saw an expansion of services provided with the hiring of James Dunlap, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon who had previously served the district as a visiting specialist from Spokane. “Having Dr. Dunlap full time creates consistent access to orthopedic services,” Lacy said. “Patients would otherwise have to travel to Spokane for that.” With Dr. Dunlap on site, they are now able to provide most orthopedic procedures at Lincoln Hospital as well as follow up with him in the clinic for pre and post-surgical care.
Another new face at the Davenport Clinic includes Dr. Lynn Kohlmeier, an endocrinologist who specializes in osteoporosis. She has been providing endocrine clinics once a month, starting in August. The district hopes to work with Dr. Kohlmeier to increase her time here as demand for her services continues to increase.
They have also continued to increase their pool of Family Practice providers to continue to bolster access to meet the needs of the community, including keeping access to same day appointments for all clinics in Davenport, Reardan, and Wilbur. Dr. Chad Mongrain, D.O. joined Lincoln Hospital and Clinics in late November after an almost two year search to fill the hole created by the passing of Dr. Robert St. Clair in 2017. “Dr. Bob served this community with everything he had,” Lacy said. “While we will never be able to replace Bob, we were fortunate enough to find a physician willing to serve the Wilbur and Davenport communities with the same type of character and values as Dr. St. Clair.” Lacy went on to say they are very excited to have Dr. Mongrain and that his practice is continuing to grow. With utilization of the clinics up, the district also added Virginia Hawthorne, ARNP to provide access to the Reardan and Davenport communities as well as serve in the emergency department when needed.
Succession planning is an important part of recruiting and Lacy said the district has to continue to look towards the future to ensure the community has high-quality healthcare professionals who provide personalized care – a part of the mission of the district – as they have a few providers in the last stages of their profession.
The district will say goodbye to long-time surgeon, Dr. Deanna Davidson at the end of September. “We are grateful for the contributions Dr. Davidson made to our organization over her 23 years here,” Lacy said. “She is a talented surgeon and we were lucky to have her.” The hospital district is hosting a farewell party in Dr. Davidson’s honor on Wednesday, September 25, 2019 at 4:30-6:00 p.m. in the Healing Garden and Gazebo on the north side of the hospital. Patients and community members are welcome to attend.
To continue the general surgery program, Lincoln Hospital will welcome general surgeon, Raaj Ruparel, M.D. starting November 1, 2019. Dr. Ruparel will be moving to the community from Rochester, Minnesota, where he finished his surgical residency at the Mayo Clinic as their Chief Surgical Resident. Dr. Ruparel was drawn to the Pacific Northwest because of the excellent opportunities for outdoor activities as well as the lifestyle and work-life balance offered at Lincoln Hospital.
Emergent surgical cases, in the interim of October, will be reviewed by the emergency department provider and referred to one of the district’s many surgical partners.
The district is currently looking for a new clinics manager as long-time employee, Gabrielle Chain, stepped down from her position this summer. Chain had been with Lincoln Hospital and Clinics for over 28 years and served in many roles.
The public hospital district has seen more than just personnel changes. Last summer, their full-service laboratory got a much-needed remodel that expanded the size and allowed for better efficiency and patient privacy. The remodel was paid for, in its entirety, by the Lincoln Hospital Foundation’s capital projects fund.
Recently, the hospital’s imaging department replaced its aging DEXA-scanner with an updated model to continue to provide accurate bone-density scans for osteoporosis prevention and treatment. They are also in the beginning stages of purchasing a fully digital suite of x-ray equipment.
Another project on the horizon is the construction of a new Davenport Clinic. The hospital’s Board of Commissioners has tentatively approved the building plans and are in the process of securing funding for the project. Construction is anticipated to begin in the spring of 2020.
“Change is constant,” Lacy said. “Our goal is to continue to change in ways that show our value to the communities we serve.”