April 7, 2017 | Cannon Beach Gazette | cannonbeachgazette.com • 7A THE ECONOMICS OF COMMUNITY HEALTHCARE Concern, challenges and collaboration Area hospitals bind services, resources 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. LUKE WHITTAKER/EO MEDIA GROUP Approximately 160 people representing various Clatsop County businesses attended the event held at the Seaside Civic and Convention Center. ‘WE SEE ABOUT 28,000 EMERGENCY ROOM AND URGENT CARE VISITS A YEAR. THAT’S ABOUT 80 PEOPLE A DAY.’ Erik Thorsen, CEO of Columbia Memorial Hospital LUKE WHITTAKER/EO MEDIA GROUP 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 coverage. “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 consolidation 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.” Columbia Memorial’s 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 Seaside. “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 creation. “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 said. During construction, 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 business. 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- vation. 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.” SUBMITTED PHOTO SUBMITTED PHOTO 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. R.J. MARX/CANNON BEACH GAZETTE Building to house Cannon Beach Academy at 171 Sunset Boulevard. 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 required.” 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 word. “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. Seaside Superintendent 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- apply. “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.