Cannon Beach gazette. (Cannon Beach, Or.) 1977-current, April 07, 2017, Page 7A, Image 7

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    April 7, 2017 | Cannon Beach Gazette | • 7A
Concern, challenges and collaboration
Area hospitals
bind services,
By Luke Whittaker
EO Media Group
Two Clatsop County health
care heavyweights weighed
in Wednesday night, March
22, at the Seaside Civic and
Convention Center. It wasn’t
a boxing match, instead it was
an evening of celebration, col-
laboration and a little uncer-
tainty at the fifth-annual Clat-
sop Economic Development
Resources business awards,
where keynote speakers Erik
Thorsen, CEO of Columbia
Memorial Hospital, and Kend-
all Sawa, CEO of Providence
Seaside Hospital, discussed
the current state of affairs at
their hospitals.
Rising health care costs and
staffing struggles are among
the chief concerns facing rural
hospitals. Despite having 600
employees — the second most
in Clatsop County — Thorsen
is calling for more staff to ad-
dress a growing need.
“We see about 28,000
emergency room and urgent
care visits a year, that’s about
80 people a day,” he said.
Sawa said, “I think that’s a
sign of the need for more pri-
mary care physicians in our
community.” Decreasing reim-
bursement and rising health-
care and pharmaceutical costs
are plaguing Providence Sea-
side Hospital.
“It’s a challenging reim-
bursement environment right
now,” he said. While the coast
is a desirable destination to vis-
it, enticing and retaining em-
ployees at a rural hospital is an-
other hurdle for both hospitals.
“We continue to have chal-
lenges with recruiting provid-
ers to our coast,” Sawa said.
“We’re hopeful. It’s a great
place to live and be.” Despite
the staff shortages, Sawa
doesn’t anticipate any changes,
but positions in primary care
have been particularly needed.
Approximately 160 people representing various Clatsop County businesses attended the event held at the Seaside Civic
and Convention Center.
Erik Thorsen, CEO of Columbia Memorial Hospital
Keynote speakers Kendall Sawa, CEO of Seaside Provi-
dence Hospital, and Erik Thorsen, CEO of Columbia Me-
morial Hospital.
“We’ll continue to plug at it
and make sure we’ll continue
access to care for our commu-
nities,” he said.
Potential changes
Attempts to repeal the
Affordable Care Act by the
Trump administration have
raised concerns about po-
tential changes to healthcare
“We’re concerned — con-
cerned with not really know-
ing what the future design is
going to be, but we’re sure
watching it very closely, ”
Sawa said.
“I’m confident we’ll be
able to manage any decision
that’s made.” Changes in
Medicaid are also possible,
particularly with coordinated
care programs.
Thorsen added, “I’m hop-
ing that the current rhetoric at
the federal level does not af-
fect our state’s ability to con-
tinue the CCO model.
“It is a potential that’s out
there, but hopefully it won’t.”
Collaboration and
A major issue for area hos-
pitals has been an influx of
mental health patients ending
up in emergency rooms.
“In early 2016, we real-
ly started to talk about the
behavior health crises that
exists in our community and
we partnered together to start
a coalition,” Thorsen said. In
2016, a collaboration of local
health care providers pur-
chased a house in Warrenton
and converted it into a crisis
respite center.
“They might be waiting for
a mental health bed to open
up in Portland, and they end
up waiting in the emergency
room,” Thorsen said.
“It’s the wrong place —
and the most costly place for
a person to wait.”
Providence Seaside and
CMH have consolidated and
reshuffled resources to better
streamline their services.
“CMH made the difficult
decision to close their home
health and allow Providence
to assume their patient load,”
Thorsen said. “The decision
was made to make the best
use of our resources.”
Lower Columbia Hospice,
meanwhile, provides hospice
care for the entire county.
“We worked and collab-
orated to make sure we have
strong programs by each of
our organizations and we’ve
seen a lot of success,” he said.
The two hospitals have also
combined resources by con-
ducting joint community needs
assessments rather than doing
them individually, which had
been costly and duplicative.
Since 2012, hospitals and
behavioral health organiza-
tions across Tillamook, Clat-
sop and Columbia County
hospitals have been convening
to share ideas on how to im-
prove care in the community.
“The first thing was getting
us all in a room and getting to
talk about how we can im-
prove care,” Thorsen said.
“The key point is bringing
the organizations together in
a collaborative way to start to
break down barriers that have
existed and potentially driven
up the cost at a lesser quality.”
Improved imaging
New technology will al-
low doctors to diagnose breast
cancer more successfully in
“We recently purchased a
tomosynthesis, which is a new
way to do breast mammogra-
phy,” Sawa said.
“It prevents the chance of
false negatives, so less chance
of error.” The new advanced
imaging technology will be
unveiled the first week of
April and is “the only one on
the coast” according to Sawa.
The next closest is in Portland.
Meanwhile, the new,
two-story, 18,000-square-foot
state-of-the-art cancer treat-
ment center in Astoria is pro-
jected to open next fall.
“We currently run medical
oncology on our campus, but
this will bring radiation and al-
low us to expand our program,”
with Oregon Health & Science
University, Thorsen said.
Four Cannon Beach businesses take
home economic development awards
CEDR from Page 1A
“We take our reputation in
the community seriously.”
As a much newer business
to Cannon Beach, Pelican
Pub and Brewing CEO Jim
Prinzing said he was honored
to be recognized so soon after
opening in May 2016 for job
“One of the things we en-
joy as a company is creating
living wage jobs that people
can support their families
with. Jobs where people can
raise their kids,” Prinzing
Prinzing hired all local con-
tractors and employees
around 85 employees during
the summer season.
Pelican Brewing is one of
the fastest growing breweries
in the state, according to the
Oregon State Liquor Con-
trol Commission 2016 beer
report. He said he hopes to
keep looking for new ways
to invest in the community
as they continue to grow as a
But for Steve Sinkler, the
owner of The Wine Shack
and Provisions 124, his award
for small business entrepre-
neurship inspired him to keep
making The Wine Shack — a
40-year-old business — fresh
and relevant.
“My reaction was disbe-
lief, and a sense of awe and
appreciation. When you are in
the thick of it, you don’t think
people are watching what
you’re doing, but they are,”
he said.
In the past two years, Sin-
kler opened Provision 124, a
fine cheese and bread char-
cuterie of sorts, to accompany
The Wine Shack, as well as
investing in continued reno-
In the future, he hopes to
expand Provision 124 with
more products and services,
as well as continuing to find
new ways to keep the custom-
er interested.
“These changes keep re-
vitalizing a community. You
don’t want the customers to
feel tired,” he said. “I think
what makes Cannon Beach
special is that there are a lot
of forward thinking busi-
ness owners, and the CEDR
awards committee recognizes
there a lot of good things hap-
pening in Cannon Beach.”
CEDR Board Vice President Alisa Dunlap presents an
award to John Nelson of Coaster Construction.
Kristin Talamantez, CEDR board president, with
award-winner Steve Sinkler of The Wine Shack.
Building to house Cannon Beach Academy at 171 Sunset
Contract says Academy
needs more students
Academy from Page 1A
District requires at least 17
kindergarten students and 17
students combined in first and
second grade to be enrolled
by May 1. If that threshold is
not reached, it is possible the
school would not be allowed
to open in the fall.
As of April 3, only 12 kin-
dergarten students and eight
first- and second-graders have
signed up.
“When we started this pro-
cess many years back, a lot of
families applied,” Phil Sim-
mons, the director of start-up
operations for the academy,
said. “But in that time fami-
lies have moved, so it will be a
challenge to get the minimum
Simmons is still optimistic
about reaching this goal. As a
charter school, any child in the
region can enroll. Marketing
materials have been circulated
at Seaside Heights elementa-
ry and Gearhart elementary
schools, helping spread the
“We have had various hur-
dles throughout this process,
and every time the seemingly
impossible became plausible,”
Simmons said.
There are three separate,
two-month-long enrollment
periods in which students can
enroll. In the future, the system
would work in such a way that
as long as 22 or fewer appli-
cations were submitted in the
first period a student would
be enrolled. But at any time in
any stage there were more ap-
plications than spots, it would
be open to a lottery system,
which does not guarantee en-
rollment for each applicant.
“We are encouraging peo-
ple to enroll as soon as possi-
ble, because in the future it is
possible you could not get in
during a later enrollment peri-
od,” he said.
Sheila Roley said the dis-
trict will continue to provide
support to the academy. The
school’s permit to have a char-
ter school lasts three years,
Roley said, which means they
have until then to open the
school before needing to re-
“The academy has worked
very hard to put together a
program and we’ll see how it
comes together,” Roley said.
By May 1, the board of
directors hopes to have the
school director hired, Sim-
mons said. The board is also
awaiting a permit to be granted
by the city to start construction
on their property on Sunset
Boulevard. The board is also
in the process of advertising
for teaching positions.