Curry Health Network - Recent News


Curry Medical Center - Normal Services Resumed


BROOKINGS, OR (August 22, 2017) - Curry Medical Center, Brookings - update for services on Tue., 8/22

It is business as usual at Curry Medical Center in Brookings today. We will welcome patients with scheduled appointments for Primary Care and Specialty Care, and Urgent Care will be open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

In response to the Chetco Bar Fire and the evacuation of residents that included providers and other healthcare staff, Curry Health Network (CHN) opened its Hospital Incident Command (HICS) Center to prepare for any impacts it may have from the Chetco Bar Fire.

Given the information CHN had at that time, it was determined that conserving resources and focusing on Urgent Care needs of the community would be a priority. To that end, CHN made the decision to operate a robust Urgent Care Clinic from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. with additional Providers and a full compliment of laboratory and diagnostic services. All patients that presented to Curry Medical Center (CMC) were seen, even patients who had appointments with their primary care provider on Monday. The day was successful from a patient safety/patient-centered healthcare perspective.

Today, August 22, 2017, healthcare services at CMC are back to normal with primary care, specialty care, urgent care, lab and x-ray open to see patients. We will continue to monitor the impacts of the Chetco Bar Fire on residents, employees and providers and will adjust operations accordingly.



Brookings - scheduled appts cancelled today


BROOKINGS, OR (August 21, 2017) - Curry Medical Center, Brookings - update for services on Monday, 8/21

*Urgent Care is open 8-8** Due to fire-related activity, a decision was made last evening to cancel all primary care and specialty care scheduled appointments for today at Curry Medical Center in Brookings. Attempts were made to reach all patients by telephone last evening.

Urgent Care will remain OPEN, with hours from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

All staff regularly scheduled to work at Curry Medical Center today have been asked to come in; this includes those who would normally be working in Primary Care and Specialty Care. This additional staff, in combination with other providers who have volunteered to be available in urgent care, if needed, will allow a higher volume of patients to be seen.

The emergency department at Curry General Hospital remains open and staffed 24/7.



Brookings Townhall Cancelled

The Curry Health Network CEO's Townhall Meeting scheduled on June 30, 2017 in Brookings has been cancelled



First Patient Welcomed at New Curry General Hospital


GOLD BEACH, OR (May 25, 2017) - Curry General Hospital in Gold Beach welcomed its first patient, Jean Thomsen, at 7 a.m. this morning. Ms. Thomsen and the last patient of the old hospital, Marlies Wessbecher, were each kind enough to consent to sharing their information, having photos taken and giving press interviews.

Seven patients were transported by ambulance from the old hospital to the new hospital, immediately adjacent. There were all personally welcomed by Curry Health Network CEO Ginny Razo.

Board Chairman Ryan Ringer and Medical Staff President Reginald Williams, M.D. were also in attendance to welcome the first patient to the community's new state-of-the-art 62,000 square foot facility.




Public Invited to Ribbon-Cutting, Guided Tours at New Hospital


Welcome to your New Hospital


GOLD BEACH, OR (March 29, 2017) - This Saturday from 1 to 4 p.m. will be the final opportunity for community members to tour the new Curry General Hospital in Gold Beach. A ribbon cutting ceremony will be held at the main East entrance at 1 p.m., followed by guided tours throughout the 62,097 square foot, state-of-the-art facility until 4 p.m.

Once the new hospital opens, there will be many areas of the building that, because of privacy laws, the general public will be unable to visit unless they are a patient. Curry Health Network's Board of Directors, CEO Ginny Razo and Medical Staff President Dr. Reginald Williams will welcome the public, and staff will take visitors on tours, showing off the new facility and equipment and talking about services that will be available.

"It's truly an historic occasion," said Razo, "and we hope that everyone can attend - it's their hospital, and I think they'll be very, very pleased." Razo says several events were held during the week of March 20 where specific groups were invited for tours. That included Emergency Service providers, Rotarians, Soroptimists, Auxiliary members, Chamber of Commerce members, and staff with their families.

"We heard a lot of 'wows'", said Razo. "It was a pleasure to welcome these groups to the hospital, and we're all looking forward to Saturday's event."

If needed, overflow parking will be available during the hours of the April 1 event at both the Gold Beach High School and Port of Gold Beach. Shuttle buses will transport visitors from those parking areas to and from the hospital.

While the community has seen the multi-story structure being constructed over time, it's an entirely new experience seeing it from the spacious interior, seeing the new furniture, artwork and medical equipment. Razo used the CT scanner as an example. "The new scanner is the latest technology; 64-slice versus the 16-slice CT in the old hospital," said Razo. "A full body CT scan will now be done so quickly, and with the lowest dose of radiation possible."

The new Curry General was designed with quality care, patient satisfaction and patient privacy in mind. "The registration area offers increased privacy. So does the ER - whereas curtains separated patients in the old 400 square foot Emergency Room, the new ER is ten times larger and has four private exam rooms plus a two-bay trauma suite. There is privacy in the surgical services department, privacy in the blood draw area, privacy in the diagnostic imaging suite. We have private consultation rooms for physicians to speak with patients and their families. Everything was designed for patient privacy," she said.

The larger facility also allows space for increased services. A new Physical Therapy suite will accommodate a greater need for this service with the addition of Orthopaedic Surgeon, Dr. Cornelius (Connie) Britt, and will be equipped with state-of-the-art equipment for use by both inpatients and outpatients. "Patient privacy was also a consideration in the design of the PT suite," said Razo. "There are three private treatment rooms."

"This is truly the community's hospital," she said, "and one that will meet their needs and last for decades to come." Construction to replace the 65 year-old hospital that no longer meets building code or patient needs was overwhelmingly supported by residents of the Health District in November 2013 when they voted to approve a $10 Million general obligation bond to partially fund the project.

"I could speak for hours about how this hospital was designed to meet the needs of our patients," said Razo, "but I think it is best communicated by inviting the public to see for themselves, and to let the new hospital speak for itself. You won't be able to walk out after the tour without knowing what this new facility will mean to the community, and to the improved and expanded delivery of quality care."




Orthopaedics Program Grows at Curry Health Network


GOLD BEACH, OR (March 15, 2017) - With the upcoming opening of the new Curry General Hospital in Gold Beach coupled with the recent addition of orthopaedic surgeon Cornelius (Connie) L. Britt, M.D., Curry Health Network's CEO Ginny Razo says the Orthopaedics program will be bigger and better than ever.

"We're very excited to have Dr. Britt on board," said Razo. "As a small health network in a rural location, we're lucky to have successfully recruited such an experienced and accomplished board-certified orthopaedic surgeon who is just as excited to be here as we are to have him. We know the community will benefit greatly by his addition."

When asked what drew him to Curry Health Network, Dr. Britt said one of the main attractions was the opportunity to work in a brand new hospital. Pausing briefly, he clarified, "The new hospital, the team Ginny has put together, and the opportunity to be part of a Network that truly has the health and well-being of the community members as its primary focus were all big factors."

Dr. Britt is clearly thrilled at the prospect of performing surgeries not available at the Network in recent years, and to do so in what he called the "spectacular and state-of-the-art surgical suites" in the new hospital. According to Razo, the combination of the new surgeon and the new hospital will allow for an expanded orthopaedic program which includes total knee and total hip replacements.

"These procedures allow for less invasive approaches to lower extremity joint replacements," Britt explained. "They're 'muscle-sparing' procedures, and they give patients the ability to ambulate more quickly and to have a much shorter hospital stay - often just one night."

The total knee and total hip replacements will just be two of the procedures available. "Other procedures include rotator cuff repair for shoulders, as well as procedures for shoulder instability. Hand surgeries including carpal tunnel release, trigger finger release, ganglion cyst excision, extensor tendon repair and treatment of hand fractures," said Britt. "And more," Razo added, rattling off a list including wrist, hip, ankle and many other bone fractures, and numerous Arthroscopic surgical procedures for the knee.

"Although I enjoy all orthopaedic surgical procedures, I have a particular fondness for total knee and total hip replacements," said Britt. "Those operations can truly change people's lives for the better."

Dr. Britt has practiced in his specialty for more than 35 years, most recently in private practice in Lander, Wyoming. While he says he will miss many great friendships developed over his 14 years in Wyoming, he will also miss trout fishing in the mountain streams of that area. "I plan to try to make up for that by chasing steelhead and salmon", he said with a chuckle.

"My wife Deborah and I are really looking forward to settling into our new home in Gold Beach, and to have our three grown sons, two daughters-in-law - three, in June, when our youngest son is married - and two grandchildren visit," he said. "The staff has been great, the community has been friendly, and we're really happy to be here."

Certified by the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery, Dr. Britt earned his medical degree from the University of Missouri - Columbia, School of Medicine, completed a rotating internship at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, and an orthopaedic surgery program residency at the University of Missouri - Columbia, School of Medicine.

Dr. Britt will see patients at Curry Medical Center in Brookings, and at Curry Medical Practice in Gold Beach. While the Gold Beach clinic currently operates out of a small outbuilding on the hospital campus, it will be relocated to the second floor in the new Curry General. Patients are invited to call 541-412-2000 for an appointment.





CHN Surgeon appointed to Surgery Advisory Council


GOLD BEACH, OR (December 12, 2016) - Dr. Glenn Levine was one of five surgeons recently appointed to the American College of Surgeons (ACS) Advisory Council for Rural Surgery during the annual ACS Clinical Congress in Washington, DC.

The mission of the Advisory Council for Rural Surgery, a committee of the ACS Board of Regents, is to identify, investigate, and rectify the challenges of rural surgical practice. Its members are elected to three-year terms and work to support rural surgeons through recruitment, retention, mentoring, and post-residency education.

There is also a special focus to encourage surgical residency programs to develop rural residency tracks to ensure that surgical residents will be comfortable entering a rural surgical practice following residency.

Glenn Levine, MD is a general surgeon employed by Curry Health Network, and performs surgeries at Curry General Hospital in Gold Beach and at Rush Surgery Center in Brookings. He sees patients at Curry Medical Practice and Curry Medical Center, in Gold Beach and Brookings, respectively.

Dr. Levine has been an ACS Fellow since 1996. His areas of interest include trauma care, open and laparoscopic surgery of the alimentary canal and peritoneal cavity, hernia repair, colon cancer prevention and screening, benign ano-rectal disease, and biliary pathology.

Dr. Levin's administrative interests include medical education, surgical mentoring, medical staff credentialing and privileging, and advocacy for the solo rural surgeon working without local professional support.

The American College of Surgeons is a scientific and educational organization of surgeons that was founded in 1913 to raise the standards of surgical practice and improve the quality of care for all surgical patients. The College is dedicated to the ethical and competent practice of surgery. Its achievements have significantly influenced the course of scientific surgery in America and have established it as an important advocate for all surgical patients. The College has more than 80,000 members and is the largest organization of surgeons in the world.




Monthly town halls to be held in Brookings


BROOKINGS, OR (October 26, 2016) - Curry Health Network's CEO, Ginny Razo, is inviting community members to attend monthly town halls in Brookings. The new communication opportunity begins this month with the first town hall scheduled for October 28 at noon in the conference room at Curry Medical Center on 5th Street.

"Part of my responsibility as CEO is to keep employees, staff, physicians and community members informed of the Network's plans including progress on key initiatives and intentions to form affiliations or partnerships," said Razo.

"While Curry Health Network (CHN) employs many methods of communication including public board meetings, our web site (www.CurryHealthNetwork.com), community email newsletters, and regular email updates and meetings with staff, I've found that a more interactive and less formal town hall setting involving community members is very valuable - both to me, and to the community," she added.

Razo has been holding monthly town halls with community members in Gold Beach since she joined the Network in May, 2015. What began with the former CEO as a small monthly meeting with leaders of service clubs such as Rotary and Soroptimists has morphed into a format attended by all interested community members - often to include 30 or more attendees.

Razo now wants to bring that opportunity to Brookings-Harbor area residents.

"The Brookings-Harbor community is very important to Curry Health Network in many ways, and we want to be able to fulfill our mission - healthy communities in which there is efficient, quality health care - with them in mind." Razo paused, then added, "Perhaps even more important than sharing information is the opportunity to listen. Communication is a two-way street. I have a great sense of the wisdom within our community, and I hope to seek that out as much as I can."

The topics for this month's town hall will include agenda items from the Board of Directors meeting to be held earlier in the week, including but not limited to provider recruitment, Obstetrics, the planned Emergency Room in Brookings, and the possibility of rebranding the Network. Razo will also be introducing Dave Gilmore, CHN's new Chief of Ambulatory Services and a Brookings resident.




Community Update - Brand Discovery Process


GOLD BEACH, OR Sept. 26, 2016 - Branding is one of the most important aspects of any successful business, and one of the least understood. Branding isn't just your logo, website and promotional materials - though these are important communication tools.

Submit your email address here to receive an invitation to take the survey: Sign me up!


In simple terms, branding defines the promise and value of the organization to the consumer. Branding is your unique identity, informing consumers what you care about. It also helps shape the products and services you offer, and is a key success factor for organizations in meeting long-term goals.

Aspects of branding include learning about consumer wants, needs, feelings and impressions of an organization, and why people choose it. Analyzing this type of information is very useful. It helps you see the big picture of how your business is perceived - a snapshot of the trust, recognition, support and value you offer in the minds of your customers.

The Curry Health Network (CHN) Board of Directors recently approved a "discovery process" with an established branding firm named Monigle Associates. The key goal of this work is to gain deep and meaningful data, gathered directly from the source, about perceptions of CHN.

This work is an investment that will provide valuable insights about our opportunities moving forward, based on consumer research tailored specifically about CHN. Together with the board of directors, we'll use this information to consider a multi-phase rebranding process for Curry Health Network.

The Monigle group, a Colorado-based brand solutions company specializing in healthcare, will deliver an organizational assessment based on their research findings from small group personal interviews, and both online and telephone surveys.

You may wonder why CHN would even consider rebranding, given the potential costs and disparity of opinions and inputs. While I don't have all the answers today, my sense is that a rebranding effort has potential to strongly position CHN toward a new vision for the future.

We're in a consumer-driven era of healthcare, with more focus on customers than ever before. Understanding our patients' motivations helps us keep pace with their preferences and expectations - a difference in thinking that educates and unifies us, and helps us focus.

There are many layers to gathering and assessing consumer survey information, and my sense is that the timing is right. We're on the brink of opening our new hospital, and while there are challenges ahead, I believe it's in our best interest to explore ideas to continually improve and innovate.

The CHN board created a bold vision: To Be the Region's Premier Rural Healthcare System. We have the opportunity to transform ourselves from the inside out, and rise to the challenge

Please help us by participating in interviews, online and phone surveys or focus groups if you are randomly requested. Be open with your opinions, including any concerns you may have. CHN will be inviting area residents to the online survey hosted by Monigle Associates, separate from CHN. Monigle will also, as an augment and a control, conduct telephone surveys using an independent, non-CHN database. The information you provide, including your name, is completely confidential.

One final thought: Curry Health Network has a long and strong history of caring for our rural communities. We are very proud of that history. The insights from this project will help us build a bridge from CHN's current reality to our vision, and help us assess how to better connect with our patients and families.




Curry Health Network Welcomes New General Surgeon


GOLD BEACH, OR (August 4, 2016) - Curry Health Network announced today that Jessica R. Carlson, M.D. has joined the Network's team of healthcare providers. A General Surgeon, Carlson has joined Dr. Glenn Levine in seeing patients at Curry Medical Practice on the hospital campus in Gold Beach as well as at Curry Medical Center in Brookings.

"We're very pleased to introduce and welcome Dr. Carlson," said CEO Ginny Razo. "She is a wonderful addition to our medical staff and her education and experience will allow Curry Health Network to offer more types of surgeries than were previously available."

The new procedures that Dr. Carlson will offer include breast and reconstructive surgery, upper endoscopy, hand surgery and abdominoplasty. Other procedures she performs include colonoscopy, bronchoscopy, skin cancer and skin lesion removal, burns, simple and complex hernia repairs, colon, gallbladder, thyroid, appendix, and small intestine surgeries. She will perform surgeries at both Curry General Hospital and Rush Surgery Center in Brookings.

Carlson is not new to Oregon. "I grew up in Redmond and spent much of my adult life in Portland," she said. "My family and I would often visit the Oregon coast, including Gold Beach."

Dr. Carlson also obtained a great deal of her education in Oregon. She earned a BSci in Biology during her time at the Honors College at Portland State University, was awarded a research internship in Washington DC and worked at the Naval Medical Research Center and the National Institutes of Health. She also completed a MSci degree in neurophysiology at Portland State University. Carlson then earned her Medical Degree at OHSU.

Razo said that Dr. Carlson's general surgical training at Bassett Medical Center in Cooperstown, NY has prepared her well to practice medicine in Curry County. "The program at Bassett specializes in training doctors to become rural general surgeons and emphasizes broad-based training that includes general surgery and other specialty surgeries."

There is also much to admire about Carlson's personal initiative and background, according to the CEO. "She is a classic high-performer. She was class president all four years at OHSU while getting her medical degree, she was an elected member of the OHSU alumni association committee, she performed research that was published in a national surgical journal and was on several committees - all while attending med school." Razo paused briefly, and then added, "The accomplishments don't stop there. During her residency she was one of ten board members on a national surgical education committee, and she enjoys volunteering."

During her time at Bassett Medical Center, Dr. Carlson was awarded the Golden Stethoscope and Cupola Annual teaching awards due to her contribution to nursing and medical student education.

When asked what she would most like the people of Curry County to know about how she practices medicine, Dr. Carlson answered, "I am passionate about listening to patients, and improving their well-being and quality of life through preventive and surgical medicine."

"Curry Health Network is very fortunate to have successfully recruited such an accomplished surgeon," said Razo, "and Dr. Carlson is just as pleased to join our community as we are to welcome her."

Carlson says this is a wonderful time to become a part of Curry Health Network, "especially with the building of the new hospital, and the entire Network working as a team to bring better healthcare to our county".

"Building a future and laying down roots in Gold Beach is a dream come true," she said. "The community is warm and inviting and I am so excited to be a part of it."




Importance of access to quality healthcare - Port Orford


PORT ORFORD, OR August 1, 2016 - No matter where you live within the geographical District boundaries of Curry Health Network, we understand access to quality health care is very important.

All of us at Curry Health Network (CHN) recognize the uniqueness of the Port Orford community with its natural beauty and the independent, proud and creative people who live there. More importantly, however, we recognize the need for health care services vital to its residents. We are committed to improving and expanding key services, through development of meaningful partnerships and other methods, to benefit the residents of Port Orford.

I'm thankful for the opportunity to explain more about the unique challenges we face in providing those services to our northernmost community members.

In rural areas like Port Orford, providing basic health services depends on the ability to attract Primary Care Providers (PCPs) - MD or DO physicians, or nurse practitioners. While Dr. Pitchford continues - as he has, for many years - to provide health care services at Curry Family Medical in Port Orford, it is very clear based on community need that more access is essential.

Recruiting PCPs can be difficult. It is difficult - and especially so in rural communities. Many issues affect the ability to recruit besides compensation and licensing - including availability of housing, schools and more. It's also important to find a provider who will enjoy living and working in the community, and it's a huge task - but a task we take very seriously. CHN is actively and aggressively recruiting PCPs for Port Orford right now.

We fully support the common vision for Port Orford, including access to good quality, basic health care. We want you to know that Port Orford is on our radar - and a key priority in the annual strategic plan created by our Board of Directors and administrative team.

The goal for Port Orford is simple; to provide better health services than is available today. One way Curry Health Network is working to solve this problem is through a partnership with Coast Community Health Center (CCHC).

To that end, CHN has sent a letter of support to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that may allow CCHC access to grant funds to be used in the Port Orford community. We have also entered into a collaborative memorandum of understanding with CCHC whereby CHN will provide all imaging and laboratory services for their patients. This partnership is unique, and even surprising to some, given the competitive nature of health care.

All of us, including the Curry Health District Board of Directors and the team at Coast Community Health Center, agree that the most pressing issue is to serve the long- and short-term health needs of the residents of Port Orford.

I want to personally assure the Port Orford community that we are working hard on your behalf to do what's right. That is making sure you and your family have health care available when you need it.

While these actions are positive and immediate, we recognize they aren't enough. We want you to know we are committed to you. We care, and we know how very important the subject of accessible health care is.

We also welcome your feedback on this and any issue. Click 'contact us' under the 'About Us' link at www.CurryHealthNetwork.com to send us an email.

If you'd like to read more details about our key priorities, and any Board and administrative action at Curry Health Network, click "Board Packets, Agendas and Minutes" under the 'About Us' link at our web site.




Why Hospital Quality & Patient Satisfaction Matter


GOLD BEACH, OR June 22, 2016 - "Quality" is a broad term that can mean many different things. When we eat out at a restaurant, we might define quality as good and timely service, or delicious food offered at a fair price.

In healthcare, your perception of quality might be influenced by the friendliness of the office staff at your doctor visit, how long you waited, or if your ailment was treated and made you feel better.

I'd like to talk with you about "quality" versus "patient satisfaction" in healthcare, and why it's so important for Curry Health Network (CHN) to focus its efforts on these areas.

"Quality" is tied to national practices about clinical performance. These are often referred to as "quality outcomes" and are evaluated by a continual gathering of common hospital data. Simply put, hospitals throughout the country keep track of these standard measurements in order to improve their operations and see how they compare with other hospitals.

These measures include things like mortality rates, outpatient clinic vaccine rates, smoking cessation rates, patient safety, and hospital-acquired infection rates.

It's important for CHN to measure and compare our quality metrics against high performing hospitals of similar size and service. This will ensure we set high clinical quality targets for the medical staff, providers and employees. Think of it like this: If you were running in a race, you wouldn't compare your performance to the runner just ahead of you; you would compare your performance against the runner in first place. This is a similar concept being embraced at CHN. We want to be as good as the best comparable hospital.

"Patient Satisfaction" is another term often linked to hospital quality, but with some key differences. When hospitals and clinics evaluate patient satisfaction that means they are interested in the overall efficiency and experience of your care. This can include how well you liked your medical provider, how effectively they communicated with you, and if you felt you were treated with kindness and compassion.

CMS (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services) is a federal agency responsible for, among other things, paying hospitals for services provided to people with Medicare and Medicaid. This agency, as part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), is changing the way it pays hospitals. Instead of only paying for the number of services provided, Medicare is also paying hospitals for delivering services of higher quality and higher value. Payments will be tied, in part, to quality and patient satisfaction scores.

In healthcare-speak, this is called a "value-based reimbursement model". To you and me, it means the better we are, the more we get paid.

Curry General Hospital is a Critical Access Hospital (CAH), which means our reimbursements are different from larger hospitals because of the number of beds we have available, location, and the population of the communities we serve. Right now, small hospitals like ours are not required to report quality and patient satisfaction data to CMS, though we voluntarily do in some areas.

Under the ACA, its expected hospitals like Curry General will be required to demonstrate high clinical quality and patient satisfaction backed by hard data in order to maximize reimbursements available to us from Medicare. This is why our Board of Directors recently adopted a comprehensive quality improvement plan, in order to focus our efforts in these two areas.

A new medical staff quality committee was recently established to ensure physicians and staff have the appropriate tools and training to meet these new targets. Progress on this work will be available to the public on our website this fall.

We've also enlisted a national research firm called National Research Corporation that specializes in healthcare analytics to manage our in- and out-patient satisfaction surveys. In order for us to establish solid and objective comparisons, these surveys include questions that were created by CMS, and are not customized for CHN.

What can you do to help? If you receive a survey about health care you received at CHN, please fill it out and be honest with us about your experiences. We need as many surveys as possible, whether you were seen in a clinic or the hospital. Your feedback is invaluable and will help us to improve.

I'd also like to invite you to join me in the monthly CHN Community Town Hall meetings. These informal sessions are held at noon in the Bethany Lutheran Church on 5th Street in Gold Beach. This is your opportunity to ask questions about actions taken at the Board of Directors meeting the night before, including those related to operations and finance.

Bring your lunch and bring a friend! I welcome you to join in the discussion about local healthcare issues and decisions that affect us all.




Curry Health Network Community Update - Finances

Ginny Razo, CEO

GOLD BEACH, OR (May 25, 2016) - Every single person served by Curry Health Network matters and contributes to its financial health.

No matter where you live on the southern coast of Oregon, Curry Health Network (CHN) exists to support the health of the communities it serves. This is the highest priority of our board of directors, physicians, and employees.

CHN is a Network comprised of a not-for-profit Critical Access (CAH) Hospital, clinics, ambulatory surgery center and assisted living facility whose service area reaches more than 22,000 people. Many more are served whom live outside the official District boundaries. Our most important value is offering accessible quality health care for you and your family when you need it.

While property tax dollars generated from assessed home values within the District's geographical boundaries support CHN and its facilities, our daily operating expenses far exceed the 3% of total revenue from these annual collections.

State-of-the-art healthcare is expensive and always evolving. Unlike large health systems that have the financial capacity to take on debt for new equipment and services, CHN must work harder to improve its overall financial health in order to reinvest in needed services and technology.

Here's a snapshot of Curry Health Networkʼs financial indicators, based on services rendered in or outside the District for the fiscal year ended 6/30/15:

Annual operating budget: $35 Million
Amount of community tax contribution, District-only: $1.3 Million
Amount of revenue from services rendered outside District boundary: 47%
89% of all services rendered were out-patient
11% of business was in-patient
% of volume by communities of Brookings (54%), Port Orford (3%) and Gold Beach (28%)

Sustaining Health Care in our Communities

As we move forward in this new era of health care reform, CHN needs strong financial strategies in order to be viable.

Why? To ensure that basic services and technology are available to everyone who lives, works and plays in southern Oregon for many years to come.

We face the very same challenges as any other hospital in the nation, no matter the size. These challenges include recruiting and retaining physicians, medical providers and qualified hospital staff, purchasing and replacing equipment and technology, offering new programs and services and much more.

Access to good healthcare is important. We recognize the need for emergency care in communities such as Brookings. The reason it doesn't exist today is pure economics. The simple truth is CHN didn't have the needed dollars to open an emergency room in that location, with or without a tax measure.

We've made enormous strides in our financial position since then, now with 18 days of cash on hand. This is important because it represents the total funds that are immediately available to us that can be spent as needed without going into debt or arranging other financing.

Our most pressing financial goal is to achieve 30 days cash on hand. The average and optimal days of cash for hospitals similar to CHN and located in Oregon is 69. In order to achieve 30 days cash on hand, CHN will need to continue to build reserves and control expenses, sufficient to earn a margin.

There are other potential threats, too, such as federal mandates of the Affordable Care Act, shifting and lower payments from Medicare and commercial insurance providers, higher overall operating costs, more publicly scrutiny about quality of care and rapidly changing technology.

The landscape of health care is shifting, and Curry Health Network must shift with it.

At CHN, we're not insulated from the impacts of challenging external forces, and we have an opportunity to thrive for many years in the future by proactively addressing the "big picture" health needs of our communities now.

We must strive for the strongest financial position possible, in order to provide life-saving 24/7 services, and have a healthy bottom line.

This will require conservative and disciplined financial management, greater levels of teamwork, a proactive attitude at every level of the organization, and meaningful partnerships. We are working hard every day to manage costs and be more efficient.

I am particularly humbled by the employees of Curry Health Network. They've picked up extra shifts, reduced overtime and supply costs, and work as a close-knit team. Our employees are CHN's most valued asset.

As a result of the cash crisis in November 2015, CHN immediately placed the hospital-funded retirement match dollars, as well as cost-of-living increases, on hold until the organization reaches its goal of 30 days cash on hand. Even with these challenging restrictions, our employees have kept their heads down, and are working tirelessly and with heart-felt dedication.

I am so proud to work with each of them. They want to do right, simply because it benefits all of us.

We've got a long way to go, but things are looking up.

CHN can be financially solid and positioned well for the future with the strong actions we take now. We're developing budgets based on current market trends, with a concentrated effort to put solid systems, policies and procedures in place to effectively manage our finances.

Our financial focus is simple: Build cash reserves. Reduce debt. Generate a margin. Reinvest in services and programs for the communities we serve.

Curry Health Network can absolutely be one of the highest performing health care Networks in the nation for the type of services we offer.

With everyone's commitment and support, we'll reach that goal together.



Curry Medical Center Gets Top Recognition


BROOKINGS, Oregon (May 23, 2016) - Curry Health Network announced today that Curry Medical Center, the Network's clinic in Brookings, Oregon, has been recognized by the Oregon Health Authority as a Tier 3 Patient-Centered Primary Care Home, the highest level awarded by the state.

"It's very satisfying," said Virginia (Ginny) Razo, CEO of Curry Health Network (CHN). "We've worked hard for the last year to improve our processes and the care we provide to our patients," she added. "It is one more feather in our cap that reflects our deep commitment to improving care for our patients." The other feathers Razo alluded to include the recent accreditation by AAAHC of Rush Surgery Center, the Network's ambulatory surgery center in Brookings, and the DNV-GL quality and safety accreditation in 2015 of Curry General Hospital in Gold Beach.

The three-tier system of rating primary care practices recognized as Patient-Centered Primary Care Homes (PCPCHs) like Curry Medical Center takes into account six areas of care: accessibility, accountability, comprehensiveness, continuity, coordination of care, and patient- and family-centeredness. The PCPCH model of primary care has the potential to advance the "triple aim" goals of health reform: a healthy population, extraordinary patient care and reasonable costs.

"Becoming recognized as a PCPCH required us to look at everything we do with a discerning eye, and make positive changes in how we provide care," Razo said. "In a nutshell, as a PCPCH Curry Medical Center will offer and coordinate preventative services so people are taken care of proactively."

Danyell Thomson, Director of Clinics offered more details. "Changes to the clinic included increasing the focus on patient outcomes and quality - even simple things such as process improvement in prescription refills and returning calls makes for a better experience for our patients. We're also working toward the future implementation of population management. Other areas were already a part of the clinic's everyday practice such as offering extended hours, access of care, and scoring patient satisfaction."

No financial incentives for PCPCH status is currently offered through the State, but AllCare, a Coordinated Care Organization, is offering a per member/per month incentive bonus which is paid to CHN quarterly. "Anticipated revenue through AllCare may be up to $100,000 per year, although that number will fluctuate based on the number of AllCare members," said Razo. "This additional revenue will help support the additional services people want and need in order to stay healthy."

When asked what happens after achieving Tier 3 PCPCH status, Razo said going through the process creates new opportunities to improve. "In the future, as we operate within the PCPCH guidelines, we look forward to taking every opportunity we can to provide extraordinary care," she said.

Curry Health Network was established in 1983 as an Oregon Special District and exists for healthy communities in which there is efficient, quality health care. The Network is comprised of Curry General Hospital and Curry Medical Practice in Gold Beach, Curry Medical Center and Rush Surgery Center in Brookings, and Curry Family Medical in Port Orford. The Network also owns Shore Pines Assisted Living in Gold Beach.

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Rush Surgery Center Achieves Accreditation


BROOKINGS, OR (May 16, 2016) - Curry Health Network today announced that the Network's ambulatory surgery center located in Brookings, Oregon has achieved accreditation by the Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care (AAAHC). Accreditation distinguishes Rush Surgery Center from many other outpatient facilities by providing the highest quality of care to its patients as determined by an independent, external process of evaluation.

Status as an accredited organization means Rush Surgery Center has met nationally recognized standards for the provision of quality health care set by AAAHC. More than 6,000 ambulatory health care organizations across the United States are accredited by AAAHC. Not all ambulatory health care organizations seek accreditation; and not all that undergo the rigorous on-site survey process are granted accreditation.

"We believe our patients deserve the best," stated Virginia Razo, CEO of Curry Health Network. "When you see our certificate of accreditation, you will know that AAAHC, an independent, not-for-profit organization, has closely examined our facility and procedures. It means we as an organization care enough about our patients to strive for the highest level of care possible."

Ambulatory health care organizations seeking accreditation by AAAHC undergo an extensive self-assessment and on-site survey by AAAHC expert surveyors - physicians, nurses, and administrators who are actively involved in ambulatory health care. The survey is consultative and educational, presenting best practices to help an organization improve its care and services.

"Going through the process challenged us to find better ways to serve our patients, and it is a constant reminder that our responsibility is to strive to continuously improve the quality of care we provide," said Razo. "We are pleased that our ambulatory surgery center has achieved quality accreditation, and has joined Curry General Hospital as an accredited facility." The hospital became safety and quality accredited by DNV-GL in January 2015.

Curry Health Network was established in 1983 as an Oregon Special District and exists for healthy communities in which there is efficient, quality health care. The Network is comprised of Curry General Hospital and Curry Medical Practice in Gold Beach, Curry Medical Center and Rush Surgery Center in Brookings, and Curry Family Medical in Port Orford. The Network also owns Shore Pines Assisted Living in Gold Beach.

The Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care, founded in 1979, is the leader in ambulatory health care accreditation with more than 6,000 organizations accredited nationwide. AAAHC accredits a variety of organizations including, ambulatory surgery centers, office-based surgery centers, endoscopy centers, student health centers, military health care clinics, and large medical and dental practices. AAAHC serves as an advocate for the provision of high-quality health care through the development of nationally recognized standards and through its survey and accreditation programs. AAAHC accreditation is recognized as a symbol of quality by third-party payers, medical organizations, liability insurance companies, state and federal agencies and the public.




Curry Health Network Community Update

Ginny Razo, CEO

GOLD BEACH, OR (April 27, 2016) - As my one-year anniversary as Chief Executive Officer of Curry Health Network approaches, I'd like to make a bold statement: I believe that Curry Health Network (CHN) can be one of the highest performing rural health networks in the country for the type of services we offer.

The single biggest reason I believe we can deliver on this statement is because of you, the residents of Curry County.

You are good. You are eager. You are dedicated, supportive and committed. But more than that, you are willing. Willing to work together - all of us a community team - to sustain and grow our health care services to meet the needs of the valued residents and visitors of Curry County.

Our health network has seen many challenges over the past year. As with any challenge in life, we shouldn't seek to blame. I am so impressed and proud of the strength and resilience of this community. We can come together, learn from past mistakes and improve.

As we move forward, I believe we have a shared goal - good quality, accessible and affordable health care for everyone we serve.

It starts with clear and open two-way communication. You have my word that for better or worse, we at CHN will be honest and transparent about the health care issues that affect you. We'll use this space each month to talk with you about the hottest local health topics, as we strive to educate and inform.

We'll share updates about the new hospital construction in Gold Beach, facts about health care pricing and finances, and national health topics, too, such as how new rules and mandates will affect all of us - plus much more.
This is my commitment to you for the new Curry Health Network - an idea that says if we work together, we can take strong and positive actions now to ensure our future sustainability.

In May, look for an update from me about CHN finances. It's a hot topic for all of us. I'll break this information down and explain our current state of affairs and challenges, and why these details are important to you.

Please reach out and contact me at any time, virginia.razo@curryhealth.org. I hope you'll join with me and the Curry Health District Board of Directors as we enter a new era of high quality local health care - for you, our patients and families.



Building a New General

as seen in the Curry Coastal Pilot, by staff writer Randy Robbins

GOLD BEACH, OR (April 20, 2016) - Nearly a year after the ground-breaking ceremony, construction of the new hospital in Gold Beach is on time and on budget, according to Curry Health Network officials.

Funded in part by a $10 million bond approved by voters in the Curry Health District in November 2013, and a $20.9 million federal loan, the $32 million, 62,000-square-foot facility is slated to complete by the end of the year. It will replace the existing Curry General Hospital, nicknamed "The General," that was built more than 60 years ago.

Despite a wintery [sic]mix of rain and high force winds for six to eight weeks that temporarily slowed construction, Curry Health Network's Facilities Operations Officer David Sanford has hopes that by the new year the hospital will, indeed, be open to care for the community.

Handling construction is The Erdman Company, a national leader in healthcare consulting, facility planning, development and design-build projects, headquartered in Wisconsin.

"We've had tremendous community support and a great partnership with Erdman and now we are looking to be ready to go at the end of calendar year 2016," Sanford said.
Tom Kaczmark, senior project superintendent for Erdman, described some of the logistics in building the five-story structure.



So far, Erdman has installed 737 Geo piers under the building and generator pad, poured 3,272 cubic yards of concrete into footings, grade beams, walls and floors, erected 756 tons of structural steel, wired 73,127 linear feet electrical conduit, and covered it all with 9,292 sheets of 5/8-inch drywall.

Kaczmark said the Gold Beach hospital has the distinction of being the first in the nation designed to withstand a 9.0 earthquake.

"We hope we never have to put it to the test, but we have built the structure to absorb a 14-inch deflection which will allow the building to shift," he said. "The windows are designed to take up to 140 mph winds impact. The Geo piers are buried 25 to 35 feet each."

The webs of steel girders that are the new hospital's framing skeleton are fused and bolted into tons of thick concrete.

Sanford is proud of the work that has been done and points to a hospital with vast improvements over the existing facility.

"When we were planning the facility we knew right away some of the biggest challenges would be wind and coastal severe weather along with being a rural community," he said.

To that end, the new hospital will have four separate examination rooms, two trauma rooms, and the E.R. will have its own nurse's station. It will have 18 patient beds.
The new facility will provide much more space to house patients, Sanford said, with a primary objective of improving quality of care and safety.

"The new hospital will have six private rooms with picture windows overlooking the town and ocean beyond, 10 semi-private rooms, and two labor and delivery rooms," he said. It also will include a clinic, laboratory, radiology, cardiopulmonary, physical therapy and two separate state of the art operating rooms.

"This hospital has been designed and engineered made for the needs of this community," Kaczmark said.

Sanford is looking forward to having the community see the end result.

And, he notes, it will be easy to get to access the new hospital. Parking problems experienced at the existing facility will be a thing of the past, he said.

"We are putting in 118 public parking spaces, those will be primarily where the old hospital sits now," he said. The hospital will have both a helipad and designated emergency entrance. The building also will include two elevators (one for patients and visitors, and one for medical staff and equipment). And climate control will be fully automated.

"In the old hospital we had 23 air conditioning units that ran 24 hours a day," Sanford said. "This hospital will feature two state of the art, built-in climate control units that will evenly heat and cool the entire structure."

Kaczmark said he believes the county will have benefits from the hospital beyond the obvious expansion of services. He thinks it will bring more people to live and work in the area, and to retire. And that the new hospital will act as a recruiting tool to bring high caliber medical personnel to the area.

"If I was a young doctor and I had a choice of places to pursue my medical career, I would look at this area's natural beauty and my ability to perform my duties practicing medicine in a brand new facility like this and I'd be hooked," he said.



New Urgent Care Hours in Brookings


BROOKINGS, OR (December 7, 2015) - Effective today, Urgent Care at Curry Medical Center, 500 5th Street in Brookings is open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday (closed Sunday). Holiday hours may vary.

Sometimes medical conditions occur that require immediate attention, but may not warrant a visit to the hospital Emergency Department. For non-emergency medical conditions such as sprains and strains, cuts and lacerations, scrapes and rashes, fevers, respiratory infections, flu symptoms, sore throats, earaches, diarrhea, vomiting and more, there is Urgent Care at Curry Medical Center in Brookings.

Urgent Care fills the gap between a primary care physician's office and an emergency room, and provides significant savings to patients and insurers compared to hospital emergency departments. Urgent Care has the ability to splint, repair lacerations, treat minor eye injuries, treat minor breathing problems or mild dehydration, and provide other limited diagnostic treatments/procedures. Non-emergency, outpatient care is offered to ambulatory patients on a walk-in basis without an appointment.

Sprains / Strains
Cuts / Lacerations
Scrapes / Rashes
Fever
Respiratory infection
Flu symptoms
Sore throats
Earaches
Diarrhea
Vomiting
Splinting
Minor eye injuries
Minor breathing problems
Mild dehydration
Other limited diagnostic treatments/procedures
On site Xray
On site Laboratory

If there is any doubt as to whether a situation is an emergency requiring Emergency Department care, you should always call 911 or go directly to a hospital emergency department. Curry General Hospital (541-247-3000) is located at 94220 Fourth Street in Gold Beach.



Community 'leaves their mark' on new hospital



GOLD BEACH, OR (October 12, 2015) - In response to an invitation to the public to "leave their mark" on the last steel beam to be erected during construction of the new Curry General Hospital in Gold Beach, nearly 100 people signed the final i-beam during a ceremony held October 8.

Curry Health Network CEO Ginny Razo spoke to the crowd of community and staff members about the progress of the construction, and drew applause to her assertion that the project is on time, and on budget. "This ceremony is an attempt to show appreciation of the support the community has given Curry Health Network in our endeavor to replace a hospital whose physical structure has long outgrown its usefulness," she said. "This is a celebration of the community," she said.

The next steps of construction will include several days of pouring concrete, and the "skin" - exterior walls and roofing - should be completed before the harshest winter weather arrives.

The beam will be installed in the penthouse, or uppermost floor of the 60,200 square foot facility, and will be visible for decades to come.




Free Mammogram Screenings Offered in Curry Health Network's 2nd Annual Mammogramarama!



GOLD BEACH & BROOKINGS, OR (October 1, 2015) - October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and as part of Curry Health Network's commitment to healthy communities with efficient, quality health care, we are offering free mammogram screenings to men and women during the entire month-long Mammogramarama event.

Last year, 240 people received free mammograms at Curry General Hospital in Gold Beach or Curry Medical Center in Brookings. This year we are hoping to double the number of people who will take this important step to better health. Call today to schedule your free "Mammogramarama" mammogram screening!

Early detection saves lives.

1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer during their lifetime.

1 in 1,000 men will be diagnosed during their lifetime (approximately 2,360 men will be diagnosed this year, and an estimated 430 men will die of breast cancer this year).

Breast cancer in men and women has similar survival rates. Depending upon what stage the cancer is in when detected, the five-year survival rate varies from 99% (earliest stages) to 24% (cancer has spread to other parts of the body). These estimates are based on data from thousands of people with this type of cancer in the United States each year, but the actual risk for a particular individual may differ.

Doctors orders to receive a screening mammogram are NOT required. For those whom it is most convenient to receive your free mammo in Gold Beach, call 541.247.3117. For those whom it is most convenient to receive your free mammo in Brookings, call 541.412.2050.




Curry General Recognized for Care of Stroke Patients


GOLD BEACH, OR September 25, 2015 - Curry General Hospital has been recognized as the top hospital from among all metropolitan and rural facilities within the Providence Telestroke Network for quickly performing potentially life-saving diagnostic scans, a step necessary to determine the appropriate treatment of stroke patients.

The hospital utilizes a Telestroke robot with a secure two-way video system that allows neurologists with the Providence Stroke Center in Portland to be "in the room" with the patient, the patient's family and the local physician. This ensures patients can receive the fastest, most effective treatment locally. The new Emergency Department to be opened in Brookings at Curry Medical Center later this fall will also be equipped with a Telestroke robot.

The hospital in Gold Beach was recognized for having the fastest median "door-to-CT time" of all hospitals participating in the Telestroke program. Door-to-CT time is the amount of time that passes from the instant patients arrive at the emergency department (ED), to the time they receive a computerized tomography (CT) scan. The CT scan combines a series of x-ray images taken from different angles and uses computer processing to create cross-sectional images, or slices, of the body.

"With a stroke, faster care can mean a better outcome," said Amber Timm, RN, BSN, and Stroke Coordinator. "Standard of care is for a suspected stroke patient to receive a CT scan within 15 minutes of arrival to the ED, but our hospital averaged only seven minutes."

Lora Lawson, CNO, explained why the door-to-CT time is important. "Results from the CT scan expedite the care and treatment of the stroke patient. That information is made available to the consulting neurologist so a timely and informed decision can be made if the patient is a good candidate for clot-busting medication." In 2012, Curry General was recognized as the top hospital for providing that medication in the least amount of time.

"Cal-Ore, the local Emergency Medical Services provider, should also be recognized," said Timm. "They have improved on processes to ensure early notification is received by the hospital that a potential stroke victim is on the way. That allows us to prepare, and take the patient directly from the ambulance gurney to the CT scanner."

Timm accepted the award on behalf of the hospital at a ceremony held in Portland on Sept. 17.



Curry Family Medical Welcomes Marcus Mayfield, FNP


PORT ORFORD, OR (September 11, 2015) - Curry Health Network today announced that Marcus Mayfield, FNP, has joined the Network's family of healthcare providers. Mayfield will be joining Dr. Thomas Pitchford in practice at Curry Family Medical, located at 525 Madrona in Port Orford, with the expectation he will begin accepting new patients in November.

Mayfield first began his career in health care working as a registered nurse in Gold Beach at Curry General Hospital in 1979. He left to pursue a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing from Oregon Health Sciences University (OHSU), and later earned a Masters degree in Nursing, also from OHSU. Mayfield remained in Southern Oregon and retired from the Veterans Administration where he worked as a Family Nurse Practitioner. He most recently practiced in a rural clinic in Eagle Point, Jackson County, Oregon.

When asked about his philosophy on health care, Mayfield stated, "I believe in building personal relationships and getting to know my patients, as well as learning how they fit into their families and community - that is the basis of good health care. I value offering opportunities for change to my patients, rather than demands, and recognize it is my patient who has the final choice."

Mayfield takes the care he provides very seriously, but does not take himself so seriously.

"Life is too short," he said.

"I'm excited to be able to provide quality health care to the good people of Port Orford, and am thrilled to have the opportunity to live and work on the southern Oregon coast where people talk to each other and wave to their neighbors." Mayfield said he enjoys bicycling, running (both on and off-road), and white water rafting. "I would like to adopt a local trail to maintain, but on those days when the weather will keep me indoors, I enjoy baking a variety of bread."

Curry Health Network's CEO, Ginny Razo, was happy to make the announcement of Mayfield's employment. "We have been looking for some time for the right provider to join Curry Family Medical, who will work well with staff, fit seamlessly into the community, and whose addition will eventually lead to increased hours or days of service. We are hopeful we have found that in Marcus, and are pleased he has agreed to join us."



Curry Health District is transparent about expansion, tax rates

courtesy of Curry Coastal Pilot, published September 1, 2015

Curry Health District will continue to be transparent to the public and provide necessary factual information related to all District dealings, including the proposed territory expansion.

Those interested in facts about the proposed territory expansion and associated tax rate projections are encouraged to view historical board meeting minutes at CurryHealthNetwork.com, or watch the video of the Curry County commissioners meeting of Aug. 5, 2015 (available on the vounty's web site). An in-depth conversation regarding the wording of the ballot measure title and body (both of which were reviewed by county and health district legal counsel, as well as being approved by the state) - was discussed in this public meeting, and the verbiage was unanimously approved by the commissioners.

The base rate of 0.7425 cents per $1,000 assessed property value can be stated as definitive - it will not change and was included in the ballot measure verbiage. The rate to cover the debt of the general obligation bond cannot be stated as a definitive amount per $1,000 because assessed property values fluctuate from year to year due to construction, improvements, depreciation, and upturns or downturns in the real estate market - therefore the assessed tax rate will fluctuate. It will never be possible to establish a permanent rate per $1,000 due to this fluctuation.

The ballot measure does say, "If annexation is approved by voters, property owners within the annexed territory would be subject to the District's permanent property tax rate. The permanent tax rate is $0.7425 per $1000 of assessed valuation. The first fiscal year in which this tax rate would be imposed is 2016-2017.

This measure does not increase the tax rate for taxable property located within the district's existing boundary. General obligation bond levies authorized by the district would be applicable to the annexed property."

The last sentence of the measure addresses the general obligation bond indebtedness to the extent that could factually and legally be disclosed with the information available.

There has been recent concern expressed over the District's financial health. Ken Landau, the district's CFO, provides the following data. As of Aug. 20, the district owes approximately $26.7 million. This includes $12.2 million for the Curry Medical Center facility in Brookings. It also includes $10 million of general obligation debt related to the construction of the new Curry General Hospital in Gold Beach, $2.6 million for Shore Pines Assisted Living and approximately $1.9 million for operational capital equipment leases.

The district will take on additional debt in the next two years related to the new hospital, up to a total amount of $20,961,000 - as provided by the USDA.

In late 2016, the projected indebtedness of the district will be close to $47 million. All debt is related to assets that provide a positive rate of return, or is covered through service operations. The CFO, along with financial advisors and lenders, routinely performs debt capacity analysis that shows the district is well within its debt capacity. A feasibility study was performed by Wipfli, a nationally recognized accounting firm, which showed that the projected debt of the district is within the district's capacity to repay. In fact, current revenue has already surpassed the feasibility study projections. The USDA has very stringent debt guidelines that have been met. Territory expansion is not required for the district to remain solvent. It is a requirement, however, to have the ability to expand Curry Medical Center to accommodate the volume of Emergency Department (ED) visits expected.

The district has consistently stated that additional services could potentially be provided if feasible, and those services may include chemotherapy infusion and other complementary cancer services, dialysis, pain management programs and expanded access to specialists via telemedicine or on-site clinics.

As an organization tasked with fiscal responsibility to district taxpayers, decisions will be made in the best interests of the District for the sole purpose of providing quality health care services - but only after thorough financial analysis and community needs assessment are completed.

District financial projections estimate operation of the Brookings ED could result in an annual operating loss of $500,000. More than $600,000 has already been invested into the remodeling of Curry Medical Center in order to accommodate a small ED, and additional staffing needs will cost an estimated $2.7 million annually.

The Oregon Health Authority on Aug. 13 made permanent the temporary rule allowing a satellite ED to exist in Brookings. This is after many years of continued effort to provide a much-needed service to the residents of the south county.

The amount the district collects in taxes is a small fraction of its revenue. The remainder is generated from operations. The district is a non-profit entity whose purpose is to provide health care services in rural communities in a day and age when other rural hospitals are closing (43 have closed since 2010). In late 2016, when the debt for the hospital will be realized by taxpayers - and if the ballot measures pass and the district is expanded to include the Brookings and Harbor areas - then the tax rate is estimated to be approximately 99 cents per $1,000 assessed property value. This is less than the average tax rate of all other health districts within the state of Oregon that levy taxes.

Once the hospital general obligation bond is repaid, taxpayer contributions will decrease to the permanent base rate of 0.7425 cents/$1,000.



Partnership with our Communities to the South of Curry Health District

You've got questions? We've got answers!


Who is proposing the annexation?
Curry Health District, which is bounded in the north by Elk River (north of Port Orford), south by Pistol River, and includes Agness, is proposing expanding the District from its southern boundary south to the Oregon-California border. The special tax district does not currently include the northern-most or southern-most portions of Curry County. [Click on image to enlarge map]
July 17, 2015
Why?
In an age when many rural hospitals are closing (43 have closed since 2010), the Curry Health District is moving toward strengthening and growing in order to continue to provide quality healthcare, to increase the number of providers and specialists, and the types of services available to the community.

Isn't this all about tax dollars?
No. Curry Health District is financially stable, BUT an expanded District - including an area in which we have invested about $21 Million to provide infrastructure and health care services for more than 13 years - would bring in an additional estimated $1.2 Million annually in taxes. Those additional funds would afford the District the ability to expand Curry Medical Center to accommodate the volume of Emergency Department visits expected. Additionally, Curry Health District would look to provide healthcare services currently not offered in the region and reduce the burden on families that travel long distances for some services not currently available.

People, community, access to quality healthcare, ensured continuation of services, improving the quality of life - and in some cases, life itself - is the purpose of the proposed expanded District. Possible additional benefits to the community may include a bolstered economy, more jobs, and increased property values.

What additional services could potentially be provided?
If feasible, chemotherapy infusion and other complimentary cancer services, dialysis, comprehensive pain management programs and expanded access to specialists via telemedicine or on-site clinics.

How will this affect taxes?
The current District taxpayers pay 74.25 cents/$1,000 in assessed property value, plus an additional approximate 69 cents/$1,000 for the general obligation levy for the construction of the new Curry General Hospital, for a total of approximately $1.43/$1,000.

With an expanded District, all taxpayers (property owners who are residents of both the current District, and the proposed territory to be annexed) would share equally the tax levy and be assessed approximately 99 cents/$1,000 assessed property value.

Once the general obligation levy for the new hospital has been repaid in a number of years, the tax will be reduced approximately 25 cents/$1,000, to an estimated rate of 74 cents/$1,000.

How do the taxes for the Health District compare with other Oregon Health Districts?
According to the Special Districts Association of Oregon, there are currently 27 health districts within the state, and Oregon Department of Revenue statistics reflect that all except two receive a share of local property taxes. Of those districts that impose a tax, in 2014 the highest tax rate was $3.97 per $1,000 assessed value, and the average was $1.03.

How does the Emergency Department at Curry Medical Center in Brookings come into play?
Brookings is the largest city in the state of Oregon without emergency medical services. The Oregon Health Authority has approved a rule that will allow a satellite emergency department at Curry Health Network's clinic in Brookings. The rule is restrictive in that it requires that the emergency facility be a department of a hospital within 35 miles. For a satellite Emergency Department (ED) to exist in Brookings and because of the rule restrictions, Curry General Hospital is the only hospital that can provide those satellite ED services.

In January 2015, Curry General Hospital became safety and quality accredited by DNV-GL. DNV-GL, one of the "Big Three" hospital accrediting agencies for hospitals in the United States, is also the accrediting agency of Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center in Medford, Sacred Heart Medical Centers in Eugene and Springfield, Sky Lakes Medical Center in Klamath Falls, and Legacy Emanuel in Portland, among others throughout the state and nation.

In regard to the Brookings ED only, financial projections estimate the District could have an operating loss of $400,000 annually. The District is already investing $600,000 in capital costs to accommodate the opening of a small ED. To ensure that we are able to provide emergency care with appropriate medical equipment, for the volume of patients we anticipate will use the ED, and to accommodate space for both current services and anticipated expanded services, a building expansion is expected to be needed. Curry Medical Center is already at or exceeding capacity for space, without the ED.

In addition to construction costs, close to 40 additional staff will be needed to provide 24/7 care, with an estimated annual cost of $2.7 Million, including benefits.

If additional tax dollars are not available, the District may need to reevaluate if ED services can continue to be provided in Brookings.

Who gets to vote?
Every registered voter who is a resident of the current District, or who is a resident within the proposed territory to be annexed, may vote. There will be two ballot measures on the November election.

One ballot measure would seek voter approval from current District residents to allow expansion.
The other ballot measure would seek approval from the residents of the proposed territory to be annexed in the Brookings-Harbor area to join the District.

Each measure must pass by a simple majority (more than half) in order for the annexation to take place.

What about representation of south County on the Board of Directors? Can there be representation by geographical region?
There are currently five elected Board Members. The next election is in 2017, when three at-large seats will be up for election. By law, the board positions are by number only, and not geographical location. However, the District itself is one single entity, and any Board member has a fiduciary responsibility to make decisions in the best interest of the entire District. The Board, at some future date, may or may not consider increasing the number of its Members, but even if it does so, law requires that the new members be elected and not appointed.

Therefore, if annexation is successful, the Board has resolved to select and appoint two non-voting members from among a number of residents of the entire area to be annexed recommended by the City Council of the City of Brookings.

The appointed non-voting members will provide input in the decision-making process of the District upon annexation, and until such time as the new residents of the District are able to vote in an election.

Do patients of the Brookings ED who need to be admitted to the hospital have to pay for ambulance transport from Brookings to Curry General Hospital?
No. Patients being transported from the Emergency Department in Brookings to Curry General Hospital in Gold Beach will not be charged for the transportation.

What happens if a patient of the Brookings ED has a very high acuity level or requires services that Curry General Hospital is not able to provide?
That patient would be transported either by ground or air ambulance to a facility able to provide those services, with transport fees at patient expense or with allowable insurance. Cal-Ore has indicated that they will keep aircraft at Brookings, so in most cases and weather permitting, the patient can be flown directly from Brookings.

OTHER FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS


What is Curry Health Network doing to recruit and retain health care providers?
A third-party evaluation of the communities' demographics are used to determine what types of physicians and providers are needed, and Curry Health Network recruits to find providers to meet the needs of residents within those communities including Gold Beach, Port Orford, Brookings, and surrounding areas.

Since 2012, Curry Health Network has recruited 22 health care providers. General and orthopedic surgeons, family medicine physicians, an OB/GYN, Pediatrician, a Pain Management and Physiciatry specialist, a Mental Health practitioner, Urologists and an Internal Medicine physician have been recruited to serve the health care needs of our communities. Compensation is based on Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) median compensation wage with adjustments. Compensation packages may include continuing medical education allowances, moving allowances, loan repayment assistance, sign-on bonuses and basic employee benefits.

Prior to being invited to join the Network, Administration and Medical Staff are actively involved in the interview process with the physician and health care provider candidates, and we strive to employ those who enjoy living and practicing in our communities.

What if I don't have insurance? Can I still be seen in an ED?
Yes. EMTALA (Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act) governs when and how a patient may be refused treatment, or transferred from one hospital to another when in an unstable medical condition. The essential provisions of EMTALA are as follows:

Any patient who "comes to the emergency department" requesting "examination or treatment for a medical condition" must be provided with "an appropriate medical screening examination" to determine if he/she is suffering from an "emergency medical condition". If he/she is, then the hospital is obligated either to provide him/her with treatment until he/she is stable or to transfer him/her to another hospital in conformance with the statute's directives. A pregnant woman who presents in active labor must, for all practical purposes, be admitted and treated until delivery is completed. This applies to persons who come to the emergency department by any manner (walking, personal vehicle, ambulance, etc.).

Can I be seen at a clinic, same day clinic, or urgent care without insurance? Do you offer financial assistance?
Yes, patients without insurance may be seen at our clinics, but payment may be required at time of service. Curry Health Network does, however, provide charity care to persons who have healthcare needs and are uninsured, underinsured, ineligible for a government program, or otherwise unable to pay, for medically necessary care based on their individual financial situation. Curry Health Network strives to ensure that the financial capacity of people who need health care services does not prevent them from seeking or receiving care. Interested persons should contact our financial counselors.

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Oregon Secretary of State has granted "safe harbor" status for this ORS 260.432 compliant document, reference ADV.15-076.




District Officials Explain Territory Expansion Plans

Courtesy of Curry County Reporter, as published July 8, 2015

The Curry County Commissioners on July 1 unanimously voted to place two ballot measures on the November election, which, if both pass, would allow expansion of Curry Health District to include the Brookings-Harbor area. One ballot measure would seek voter approval from current District residents to allow expansion; and the other would seek approval from Brookings-Harbor area residents to join the Health District.

Deb Wilson, Vice Chair of Curry Health District's Board of Directors, says the District is excited for the opportunity. "Partnering with residents in the Brookings-Harbor area will provide an opportunity for the Network to be the healthcare provider of choice for the region," she said, but was most enthusiastic about the expected benefits to the communities.

Board Treasurer Ryan Ringer says that while Curry Health Network (CHN) is financially stable; partnering with the residents of south Curry County - roughly from Pistol River to the California border - would afford CHN the ability to expand healthcare services in the region, and reduce the burden on families that travel long distances for some services not currently available.

"Some of the potential services we would be looking to provide, if feasible, include chemotherapy infusion and other complimentary cancer services, dialysis, comprehensive pain management programs, and expanded access to specialists via telemedicine or on-site clinics." Ringer explained that Curry Medical Center in Brookings, soon to include the first free-standing Emergency Department in Oregon, is at or exceeding capacity for space, and a building expansion would likely be needed - sooner rather than later.

While the proposed District expansion has a tax impact, Wilson says the ballot measures aren't all about taxes. "This is about people, our communities, access to quality healthcare, ensuring continuation of services, improving the quality of life - and in some cases, life itself."

Chief Financial Officer Ken Landau explained the current tax rate of existing District taxpayers is approximately $1.43 per $1,000 assessed property value, a rate that includes the general obligation bond approved in November 2013 to build a new hospital to replace the aged Curry General Hospital in Gold Beach. "With an expanded District, all taxpayers would share equally the tax levy and be assessed approximately 99 cents per $1,000 assessed property value," he said. "Once the general obligation levy for the new hospital has been repaid in a number of years, the taxes will be reduced approximately 25 cents per $1,000."

According to the Special Districts Association of Oregon, there are currently 27 health districts within the State, and Oregon Department of Revenue statistics reflect that all except two receive a share of local property taxes. Of those districts that impose a tax, in 2014 the highest tax rate was $3.97 per $1,000, and the average was $1.03.

"Healthcare is in an historic transitional time and many rural hospitals across the country are struggling to survive. Since 2010, 43 have closed," said Wilson. "We - Curry Health Network, our District residents and our southern Oregon coastal neighbors - have an extraordinary opportunity to strengthen healthcare service offerings to those in our communities and retain local control to charter its future."



USDA Funding Approved for Curry General Hospital


GOLD BEACH, OR May 29, 2015 - Curry Health Network today announced they have received official notification from the USDA that the request for a loan to build a new Curry General Hospital in Gold Beach has been approved.

The letter from the USDA, dated May 15, states the federal agency's Finance office has set aside $19,061,000 for the project.


"We have been anticipating the arrival of this letter for weeks," said CEO Virginia "Ginny" Razo. "The USDA has been very supportive throughout the entire process." USDA officials Sam Goldstein, Deanna Quimby and Norm Schoen joined in the hospital's groundbreaking ceremony on May 4. "The USDA and we had been hopeful an official announcement could have been made at that time, but the application process is complex and timing is difficult to predict," said Razo.

CFO Ken Landau says the USDA loan will augment the $10 million general obligation bond District voters overwhelmingly approved in November 2013. "The USDA loan terms are the best we could have hoped for; 40 years at 3.5 percent interest. There were other financing options available, but the USDA terms were the most attractive and met our goal of exercising fiscal responsibility to the District taxpayers while ensuring continuing availability of quality healthcare in our communities."

"Ken has done an exemplary job to obtain this financing," said Razo. Deb Wilson, Vice Chair of the Curry Health District Board of Directors, agrees. "We recognize and appreciate the many hours that Ken Landau has invested throughout the last months. We are very fortunate to have him as part of the Curry Health Network team."

Razo explained the USDA also issued a Letter of Conditions to the District. "The letter of conditions with which we must comply in order to receive funding is standard practice with the USDA, and we have no concerns over our ability to meet them," she said. The USDA does not provide construction financing, but will provide permanent funding for the project when construction is complete. The $10 million general obligation bond will be used for construction financing, and interim financing is out to bid with a number of interested financial institutions including Key Bank and US Bank, among others.

The Network is building the new hospital on the same property as the existing 60+ year old facility. Two modular buildings that served as the hospital's business and finance offices were removed from the west side of the property, and in that same location excavation work preparing for the foundation of the new structure is underway.

"We are very excited, as I know the community must be, to see the work beginning and to watch the ongoing construction process," Razo said. "In a few weeks, we expect that a web cam will be installed at the construction site with the video available to watch online. At the end of the construction process, it may be possible to have an elapsed time video available which will show the entire project - from start to finish - in just a few minutes."

Erdman Company, the Wisconsin-based design/build firm, has designed the new hospital to meet building code requirements for earthquakes, and DOGAMI Chief Scientist Ian Madin said earlier this year in an OPB interview it is first hospital in the United States designed with any consideration for tsunami impact. The structure will be approximately 60,200 square feet on four levels, and will include 18 patient beds, two operating rooms, a clinic, lab, radiology, cardiopulmonary services, and an emergency department with several exam, triage and trauma rooms - all designed with consideration for increased efficiency, patient privacy, safety and quality healthcare.




Health District to ask Voters to Join

By Jane Stebbins, Curry Pilot staff writer

Curry Health District is reaching out to those in Brookings and Harbor in an attempt to secure its status as the primary medical care provider in Curry County.

Work is already underway to redesign Curry Medical Center in Brookings to accommodate a new emergency department (ED). And this fall, voters in the southern end of the county will get the chance to join the district - and with that membership, get a new 25,000-square-foot facility to house a much-needed dialysis center [correction: possibly a dialysis center], infusion therapy for cancer patients, a stationary MRI, surgery [correction: no surgical facility], outpatient observation beds and additional health-provider offices.

The cost is expected to be between $8 million and $10 million.

"This is an exciting day for us, as you can imagine," Brookings Mayor Ron Hedenskog told the hospital [correction: Health District] board Monday after they agreed to a resolution to pose the annexation question to south county voters. "It's an extraordinary, historic day for us. But it's also the beginning of a lot of work."

The work ahead

While groundbreaking took place Monday evening for a replacement hospital in Gold Beach, plans are to spend $500,000 to remodel the Brookings Urgent Care Center [correction: Curry Medical Center's Urgent Care department] as an ED and another $750,000 to purchase equipment.

The goal is to have the department open by August 1, with 20 to 30 additional employees.

The hospital replacement was prompted by the state fire marshal, who told the hospital district board almost two years ago that he could no longer turn a blind eye to the aging Curry General Hospital in Gold Beach.

A Political Action Committee called Save the General [correction: Replace the General] was able to convince 2,149 voters of the importance of rebuilding the hospital; groundbreaking ceremonies that attracted about 200 people were held Monday afternoon.

Currently, the district board is awaiting word from the USDA regarding a $19 million loan to complement the $10 million general obligation bond voters approved last November before work can begin.

The … other cost

Those expenses, however, must be paid.

If voters agree to the proposed annexation, the district's tax rate of 74 cents per $1,000 assessed valuation would then apply throughout the county. An additional estimated 70-cent per $1,000 assessed valuation will be paid - [correction: currently] only by those in the current district, who voted for it - to fund the general obligation bonds when they are sold, said Chief Financial Officer Ken Landau.

If Brookings joins the district, thus sharing the expense, that 70-cent rate will be reduced to about 25 cents per $1,000 assessed throughout the district, for a total of 95 to 99 cents per $1,000 assessed valuation.

Tax revenue generated from the annexation - estimated to be $1.2 million - would cover the cost of the ED improvements, building the 25,000-square-foot addition and providing other services.

The existing facility in Brookings is 34,500 square feet; the addition would bring it to 59,500 square feet.

"This is an exciting time," said [correction: former] district interim CEO Wayne Hellerstedt, who was in attendance to greet just-hired CEO Ginny Razo. His last day is May 8. "We've been working with OHA (Oregon Health Authority) to get permission to operate a satellite ED in Brookings; it's something that's been on everyone's plate for many years."

Board member Deb Wilson wondered how the face of the five-member board would be changed with the addition of the Brookings-Harbor area.

Two people would be appointed by the Brookings City Council, the resolution reads. State law says those appointees could have input, but not be able to vote until the next board election in 2017. At that point, the seats up for election would be available on an at-large basis, meaning anyone in the county could vie for them. [correction: Brookings City Council would appoint two persons to have voice but no Board vote Board until the 2017 election. At that time, 3 of the 5 Board seats will be up for reelection and would be available on an at-large basis. At this time there are no plans to increase the number of Board Members.]

The district now

Currently, Curry Health District goes as far south as Pistol River. In the 1980s, the district offered the southern end of the county the opportunity to join, Hedenskog recalled, but the offer was rejected.

Animosity grew over the years between the city and district, with the city purportedly not willing to join the district unless a hospital was brought to the county's population base.

Additionally, he said, there was little good health care available - 65 percent of Curry Countians still opt to go to Sutter Coast Hospital in Crescent City rather than the hospital in Gold Beach. Whether that is because of a perceived difference in health care or merely an easier drive is debatable.

"Why would you contribute taxes to a hospital in Gold Beach that wasn't as good as the one in Crescent City?" Hedenskog said. "They never got it. They said, 'We offered to let you join, and you turned it down.' Uh-duh."

Things have changed - mightily.

According to Hedenskog, it was inevitable the most populous area of the county would eventually get a medical facility - and former health district CEO Bill McMillan knew it, Hedenskog said.

"I believe he was a smart man," he said. "He could see the handwriting on the wall - that eventually we would have a health care facility in Brookings whether (the district) wanted to step in or not."

Instead of allowing Sutter Coast to encroach on its turf, Curry Health Network made overtures to its neighbors to the south.

Hedenskog has come full-circle, too.

"We've been waiting for this a long time," he said. "This could change the game in Brookings. This could be the biggest spark of growth we've had in Brookings. I know not everybody wants to see growth in Brookings - 'It's a cute little town; we wish it'd stay the same,' - but why couldn't we at least fill up the empty houses and storefronts and become strong and viable?"

Hedenskog said the Brookings City Council will vote on a similar resolution at its meeting May 11. The election will be held in either September or November, depending on state deadline requirements.



Brookings Council Supports CHD Expansion

By Jane Stebbins, Curry Pilot

BROOKINGS, OR (May 12, 2015) - The Brookings City Council approved a resolution Monday night agreeing to accept Curry Health District's invitation to join its district and supports putting the annexation question to county voters in November.

The proposed annexation would include the land south of Pistol River, where the current health district boundary ends, to the California border. All registered voters within the county will have the opportunity to vote on the issue, and the annexation will only be finalized if both parts - the in- and out-of-district voters - approve the measure.

"District voters vote, and Brookings and Harbor voters vote as one," said City Manager Gary Milliman. "It's not a city vote and a Harbor vote, but a Brookings-Harbor vote."

The purpose of annexing the southern end of the county to the health district is to establish a tax base to expand the current Brookings Medical Clinic [correction: Curry Medical Center] on Fifth Street to accommodate a full emergency department (ED) - hoped to open in August - and build a second, 25,000-square-foot building for [correction: possible dialysis] dialysis, infusion therapy for cancer patients, an MRI [correction: an MRI is already in the process of being integrated into the existing clinic], surgery ward [correction: the District may consider incorporating Rush Surgery Center, their ambulatory outpatient surgical center, into the expanded CMC - but there are no plans for a surgery ward], two 24-hour hold beds and more clinic offices.

Additionally, the southern end of the county will have a voice on the CHD board. Two people appointed to positions will face election in 2017 [correction: In 2017, three elected board members will be up for re-election]. The five-member board will be elected at-large.

Approval of the annexation would mean taxpayers throughout would pay almost $1 per $1,000 assessed valuation for the increased services [correction: Taxes would be for all District services, not for only the increased services. All District taxpayers would share the tax levy equally].

Currently, residents in the existing health district pay 74 cents per $1,000 assessed valuation to fund the hospital in Gold Beach. They also approved in November a $10 million general obligation bond to replace that hospital; when the bonds are sold, the tax rate is expected to increase to $1.44 per $1,000 valuation.

If the annexation is approved, however, that tax burden would be spread over far more taxpayers, reducing the tax rate to an estimated 95 to 99 cents per $1,000 valuation for all. While the annexation would be effective immediately, taxes wouldn't be collected until November 2016.

"This is a historic moment in time for the Southern Oregon Coast," said new CHD CEO Ginny Razo. "This will improve health care for the entire region. Most rural hospitals are not looking to expand; most are closing their doors."

The property tax would generate $1.2 million for construction of the ED. The larger facility will cost about $8 million to $10 million.

Razo said the urgent care [correction: and primary care] clinic operates at a profit, but EDs typically run at a loss. Officials say it will cost about $1.2 million a year to operate the ED, of which about half will be garnered through an anticipated 6,000 emergency room visits and the other half through property tax revenue.

Both facilities will hire 25 to 30 new people, the ED will be open 24/7 - and it will be the first stand-alone emergency department in the state of Oregon.

According to City Manager Gary Milliman, the first hurdle was getting the Oregon Health Authority to agree to change the administrative rules to allow stand-alone EDs; it recently crafted a temporary rule to permit that as long as the ED is associated with and operated within 35 miles of the sponsoring hospital.

"But for the existence of Curry General Hospital, the ED couldn't exist," he said. "Given the myriad of state and federal regulations relating to hospitals, it would be virtually impossible to secure a permit to license a hospital in Brookings due to its proximity to Sutter Coast Hospital in Crescent City and Curry General Hospital in Gold Beach."

Emergency personnel are excited to get an ED in the county's most populous city. Currently, the seriously ill or injured in Brookings must be driven by ambulance to either Curry General Hospital in Gold Beach or Sutter Coast Hospital in Crescent City. If they need more definitive care, they can then be flown from the airport in Crescent City or the hospital in Gold Beach to another hospital.

With the addition of an ED here, however, a seriously ill or injured patient can be stabilized here and transported to the Brookings Airport - saving at least a half-hour of transport time often critical to the patient's outcome.

"I hope the citizens of Brookings-Harbor are as excited as we are," said Councilor Kelly McClain. "This is a big deal. It's a big deal for our quality of life, for property values - for everything."

Councilor Bill Hamilton said he was happy to be getting such services in the community.

"Two times I had to be flown to Medford in the past two years for heart problems," he said. "I'll be a little relieved if this happens. It's not a bowl of cherries getting loaded in that airplane two or three times. This has been a long time coming."

Even a few years ago, it was unlikely city leaders would have greeted hospital officials with enthusiasm for an annexation proposal. But it will be beneficial, hospital and city officials agree, for both to have increased services in the area of the county with about 60 percent of the county's population.

"The goodwill started when you lowered our System Development Charges from 9 percent to 3 percent," said CHD Chief Financial Officer Ken Landau of the building costs to build the clinic. "We've been working with (Mayor) Ron (Hedenskog) and Gary ever since."

"I'm glad Curry Health District recognizes the System Development Charge thing was a goodwill (gesture)," said Councilor Jake Pieper. "I'm glad they started the ball rolling for good will. There was so much negativity, conspiracy theories. ... Hopefully everything will come to fruition."

"I'm so proud to be a part of the healing of the relationship between south and north county," said CHD board member Rebecca Moore. "When we opened the clinic on Alder Street in 2001, this was our dream, and now it is coming to fruition."




Hospital Groundbreaking Set for May 4


GOLD BEACH, OR (April 27, 2015) - Curry Health Network is excited to announce they will be breaking ground on the replacement Curry General Hospital, an 18-bed critical access hospital, on Monday, May 4 at 5:30 p.m. The ceremony, open to the public, will be held in Gold Beach at 94220 4th Street, with a reception to follow in the fellowship hall of Bethany Lutheran Church, 94190 5th Street.

Since the early 1950s, the original Curry General Hospital has provided healthcare with genuine caring and compassion to the residents of Gold Beach and surrounding areas, and has recently received patient safety and quality accreditation by DNV-GL. In November, 2013, District voters supported the building effort by passing a ballot measure to approve a $10 Million general obligation bond, providing roughly one-third of the approximate $29 Million total cost.

"The old building has served us well," said Wayne Hellerstedt, Interim CEO, "but its time of usefulness has come and gone. Codes have changed tremendously, and the new design should provide the venue for increased efficiency, patient privacy, safety and quality healthcare."

The new hospital will be approximately 60,200 square feet on four levels, and will include 18 patient beds, two operating rooms, a clinic, laboratory, radiology, cardiopulmonary services, and an emergency department with several exam, triage and trauma rooms. The anticipated opening date is late 2016.

Officials from the Wisconsin-based design/build firm Erdman Company will be attending, as will representatives from the USDA, Curry Health District board members, and the Network's new Chief Executive Officer, Virginia "Ginny" Razo. The event will be emceed by Hellerstedt, whose last day with CHN will be May 8.

"We invite the public to join us for this special occasion," said Hellerstedt.



Curry Health Network Participates in Senior Health Fair


GOLD BEACH, OR (April 21, 2015) - As part of Curry Health Network's commitment to supporting healthy communities, registered nurses from Curry General Hospital volunteered to participate in the Senior Health Fair on April 9 at Seaview Senior Living in Brookings.

Jeanette Wheeler, RN, Nursing Educator and Nursing Manager of the hospital's Emergency and Med-Surg Departments, and Judy Backhouse, RN and Lead OB nurse, gave residents and community members Personal Medication Record cards and discussed the importance of keeping accurate records of home medications and supplementations.

"It is essential that everyone keeps a personal medication record with them at all times so it can be available if a visit to an emergency room is necessary, and also to take to any appointment with a primary care provider," said Backhouse. She explained that records should not only be kept of prescription medications, but supplementations as well. "Supplementations can have a negative effect on prescription medications," Backhouse noted. The nurses also discussed the importance of drinking plenty of water. "As we age, we may not feel as thirsty and not drink as much water as we should, and many medications can cause constipation. We should all be sure to inform our healthcare providers if we are not drinking as much water as may be required, because that may require a change in medication management."

Wheeler said the Seaview residents were most excited about the news of the approval for a new Emergency Department at Curry Medical Center in Brookings. "The feedback about the availability of emergency services in their community was overwhelmingly positive," she added. Brochures introducing the healthcare providers of Curry Health Network and outlining the myriad of services available were also shared with residents and others attending the health fair.

At the invitation of the facility's Director, Wheeler and Backhouse will be speaking at the facility's monthly community meetings and providing education for their staff. "We're pleased to be offered the opportunity to contribute to the health and well-being of community members, and are looking forward to returning," Wheeler said.



Curry Health Network Names Bets Byrtus Employee of the Year



GOLD BEACH, OR (April 15, 2015) - Curry Health Network proudly names Bets Byrtus as the 2014 recipient of the Employee of the Year Award. Byrtus is the Administrative Coordinator and an integral part of the daily operations of Curry Medical Center in Brookings. She was selected for this prestigious award from among employees of all the Network's facilities in Gold Beach, Port Orford and Brookings who had been awarded Employee of the Month honors.

"Bets touches each and every department of Curry Medical Center on a daily basis and brings with her a smile, a kind word and a wide scope of knowledge," said Clinic Manager Danyell Thomson. Her co-workers agree, as evidenced by comments on the nomination forms submitted on her behalf; comments that include "She goes above and beyond to help", "She does whatever she can, always with a smile on her face", and "Bets is a great team player with a great attitude". One nomination summed up her contributions in four words, "Bets is the best."

Byrtus was originally hired as the part-time Director of the grant-supported Curry Breast Health Program in 1994. The following year she took on added duties in the Finance Department and became a full-time employee. With the exception of a one-year hiatus, Byrtus has been working at Curry Health Network in a variety of positions since that time.

During the award ceremony held April 10 when about 40 co-workers joined Interim CEO Wayne Hellerstedt in offering thanks and congratulations, Byrtus said a few words. "When I was younger in the 1960s, people who were 65 just automatically retired. I thought that was pretty wonderful because I thought I could get their job. In my late 30s I had a fabulous job, and my boss had an even better job and was getting near 65 so I thought she should retire so I could have her job," Byrtus joked. "Well, that didn't happen, and here I am now at age 70 and Curry Health Network is letting me stay."

"I love coming to work every day and consider my job a hobby - the fact that I can't grow flowers or quilt may have something to do with it," she quipped. "There are a lot of people here that do fabulous work, and work really hard but don't get recognized. They just aren't out there and as visible. They may like me just because I deliver the paperclips!" Byrtus said, all joking aside, she is very appreciative of the award and honored to work with her talented and dedicated co-workers.

"It's people like Bets who make Curry Health Network such a great place to work," said Hellerstedt.




CHN Announces New CEO Virginia Razo


GOLD BEACH, OR (March 31, 2015) - Curry Health Network today announced Virginia "Ginny" Razo will be joining the organization on May 4 as Chief Executive Officer, succeeding Interim CEO Wayne Hellerstedt.

Razo most recently served as Interim CEO of Tahoe Forest Health System in Truckee, Calif., one of the most prestigious critical access hospital systems in the United States. Prior to being Interim CEO, she was Chief Operating Officer for seven years and Chief of Ancillary Services for five years at Tahoe Forest.

Razo holds a Doctor of Science (DSc) in Healthcare Administration from the University of Alabama at Birmingham in Ala., and a Doctor of Pharmacy degree from University of the Pacific in Stockton, Calif.

"It is an honor and a privilege to be joining Curry Health Network (CHN) and to serve the coastal communities of southern Oregon with a team of dedicated staff and medical providers," said Razo. "While my husband Richard and I were visiting Gold Beach, the sense of community pride and excitement about the future of CHN was palpable. Our family is so excited to be joining the community and organization in May."

"Ginny understands small hospitals and rural communities and will be an excellent fit for Curry Health Network and our communities," said Hellerstedt.

"More than 30 applicants vied for the position," said Gary Anderson, Board Chair of Curry Health District. "There were many highly qualified individuals interested, and after a comprehensive selection process lasting several months, the Board unanimously selected Ginny as the best candidate."

"Ground-breaking for a replacement Curry General Hospital is expected within the next few weeks, and Curry Medical Center in Brookings is in the process of adding emergency medical care within the next several months," said Hellerstedt. "Ginny has the knowledge, expertise, background and energy level necessary to see Curry Health Network through this critical time, and in the future throughout our continued growth," he continued.

Curry Health Network is comprised of Curry General Hospital, Curry Medical Practice and Shore Pines Assisted Living in Gold Beach; Curry Family Medical in Port Orford; and Curry Medical Center, Rush Surgery Center and Brookings Psychiatry in Brookings.




ED Approved at CMC in Brookings


BROOKINGS, OR (March 24, 2015) - A breakthrough in securing State approval for an Emergency Department at Curry Health Network's clinic in Brookings was announced today by Brookings Mayor Ron Hedenskog and Curry Health District Board Chair Gary Anderson.

The Oregon Health Authority today issued a Temporary Rule prescribing the conditions under which Curry Health Network (CHN) can secure a State permit to operate a satellite Emergency Department (ED) at Curry Medical Center in Brookings, CHN's 34,500 square foot facility that opened in 2011 on 5th Street. The temporary Rule will remain in effect for 180 days while the State processes the enactment of a similar Permanent Rule.

"Having an ED at Curry Medical Center in Brookings is absolutely essential for the health, safety and wellbeing of our community," said Mayor Hedenskog. "A succession of local officials has been pursuing this for years, and we are now on the brink of achieving this goal."

"This long-anticipated announcement from the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) is one we are excited to receive. Providing this vital service to Brookings and southern Curry County is a goal which we have jointly been working toward with Brookings City officials for quite some time," said Anderson. Providing emergency services to Brookings is in alignment with CHN's mission, "healthy communities in which there is efficient, quality health care."

"This means we can immediately proceed with plans to develop an ED at Curry Medical Center (CMC) in Brookings," said Wayne Hellerstedt, CHN's Chief Executive Officer. "The clinic already has many of the components necessary for an ED, yet there are a number of issues to be addressed including funding, facility improvements, licensing for pharmacy and other services, and employing additional staff."

"We need to construct a physical separation between the existing Urgent Care unit and the new ED," Hellerstedt said. "It will take us about 150 days to get the new ED up and running."

Brookings is the largest city in Oregon without a hospital. The EDs closest to the Brookings-Harbor communities are in Gold Beach and Crescent City, California. In addition to providing primary and specialty care by appointment, CMC in Brookings also provides Urgent Care daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Urgent Care facilities, however, do not have the same capacity to treat the seriously injured or ill patients that EDs are equipped to handle.

The ED at CMC would be open daily, 24 hours per day, and would be staffed by physicians and other health care professionals capable of providing emergency medical treatment. The ED would be a provider-based satellite of the hospital ED, an extension of Curry General Hospital.
Some physical improvements and equipment will be needed at CMC to provide for the long-term emergency treatment to be offered at the facility. A triage system will be established to route patients to either Urgent Care or the ED.

"We will now begin working on developing a closer relationship between the Brookings and Harbor communities and Curry Health District to determine how to fund the construction and operation of the ED at Curry Medical Center," Hellerstedt said. "We are hopeful that the communities can quickly come together on this issue."

While fewer critical patients requiring hospital admission will continue to be transported via ground ambulance, Cal-Ore Life Flight has indicated that once the ED is operational, air ambulance transport of critically ill and injured patients can take place from the Brookings Airport to higher-level trauma centers in Medford, Coos Bay, or elsewhere. "Without an ED, those patients had to be transferred by ground ambulance to the nearest hospital where an emergency physician had to ensure they were stable enough to fly before transferring to a higher-level trauma center," said Anderson. "This will save lives."

"We now need to figure out the local structure for sustaining a quality healthcare system for all of us in Curry County," Hedenskog said. "We need to consider bringing the City and the unincorporated community of Harbor into the Curry Health District. We need to look at how much money is needed, how much the property tax rate needs to be, and how policy decisions on health care are made for our community going forward."

"We have a golden opportunity to take a leap forward in improving medical care in the Brookings-Harbor community," said Hellerstedt.

The City and CHN jointly retained a Portland-based law firm, Davis, Wright and Tremaine, to assist them with securing Oregon Health Authority approval for the ER. John DiLorenzo, who is affiliated with that firm, worked closely with City and CHN leaders.

"John DiLorenzo did a great job putting us in touch with the right people in State government to get this process moving, and was tenacious in pressing for a favorable solution," Hedenskog said. "Former Governor Kitzhaber and Senior Policy Advisory, Sean Kolmer, were pivotal in getting us to this point."

Hedenskog said that Brookings City Manager Gary Milliman, CHN CEO Wayne Hellerstedt and former CEO Andrew Bair also played major roles in moving the issue forward. "They have worked tirelessly and aggressively on behalf of this community," Hedenskog added.

Milliman also recognized the cooperation of Oregon Health Authority and Oregon Department of Justice representatives in coming to an agreement with the City and CHN on the final wording of the Rule.

"This is an important project for the health and safety of the residents of our community," Milliman said. "But it's also important to the community's economic future. A major hindrance in our efforts to spur economic growth has been the lack of medical care, and specifically emergency medical care. This project will resolve that challenge."




CHN Participates in School Wellness Program


GOLD BEACH, OR (February 23, 2015) - Even before Central Curry School District learned they would be the recipient of a 2014 OEA Choice Trust Wellness Grant, the Board of Directors of Curry Health District agreed to partner with them in their endeavor to improve the health and well-being of employees and schoolchildren, and in building a culture of health that promotes healthy living to prevent or manage risk factors and chronic diseases.

According to the OAE Choice Trust web site, during the first year of a five-year grant period, up to $25,000 will be received, with a maximum of $75,000 for employee wellness programs that will be implemented within five years. Grantees are required to provide a minimum of 50% in matching funds, either through in-kind contributions or outside funding partners. Curry Health Network's contribution of staff and health screenings goes toward the matching fund requirement.

Phase I of the "Central Curry Cool Waves to Wellness" grant process is geared to the health of teachers and other school employees, and then Phase II will move to include health and wellness of the schoolchildren. Curry Health Network will also participate in Phase II, as well as follow-ups with the participants of Phase I.

Curry Health District board chairperson Gary Anderson said the board agreed to provide staff and health screenings in late October, and administration was also fully supportive of the Network's contribution and recognized the importance to the schools and our community. "Curry Health Network whole-heartedly endorses this worthy program, and is pleased to be able to contribute to the continuing and improved health of our local teachers and school children," he said.

Registered nurses Jeanette Wheeler and Judy Backhouse, Phlebotomists Milo Mann, Brandi Barrigar and Terri Steele; and Michael Steele, Medical Laboratory Scientist and Curry Health Network Laboratory Manager were on hand at Riley Creek Elementary the morning of February 23 to take blood pressure readings and draw blood of more than 40 school employees. Blood screenings that will be performed include a hemogram (white cell, red cell, and platelet count with hemoglobin and hematocrit evaluation), a lipid profile (LDL, HDL and triglyceride), and a blood glucose level.

"These excellent baseline tests help people 'see' the health of their body from the inside," said Steele. "Hopefully this will make them aware and cognizant of their health and help them make healthy food and exercise choices." All data will be charted demographically and used to educate the participants as well as compare with later follow-up tests. Curry Health Network is providing documentation and handouts that explain the tests and the value of having routine health screenings.

"Engagement with the community through health fairs and screenings is the best way to make the community aware and actively participate in their own health management," said Steele. "My staff and I were happy to be a part of helping Curry County and its citizens live happier, healthier and longer lives."

"Teachers are in a great position to act as positive role models for students, and more and more schools, parents, students and communities realize the strong links between health and education. I applaud the steps toward improved health taken by the teachers and other school employees - it shows leadership and commitment that students can see is real," said Rebecca Moore, Health District Board Member whose two youngest children attend Riley Creek. "Students will be watching the teachers set a good example of the importance of health, and health leads to improved learning. I'm very proud to be part of Curry Health Network and its commitment to improved community involvement."

Grant volunteer Aga Kemp said the grant is only the beginning of an amazing journey for school staff and children toward improved health and wellness. "The support of our community partners is an integral part of its success and I am so grateful for the generous contributions, support, vision and professionalism Curry Health Network has provided us every step of the way."

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More Accolades for Curry General: Trauma Center Designation


GOLD BEACH, OR (February 18, 2015) - Curry General Hospital was recently granted recertification of its designation as a Level IV trauma center, another accolade received close on the heels of the news that the milestone achievement of quality-based accreditation by DNV-GL Healthcare was reached.

In a letter dated February 4, 2015 announcing the recertification, Oregon Health Authority Public Health Division Director Dana Selover wrote, "Curry General Hospital has shown remarkable progress in the past 12 months," and granted a two-year extension of the Level IV designation.

"I am very proud of the accomplishments of our organization, and congratulate the staff and providers on this significant continued achievement," Curry Health Network CEO Wayne Hellerstedt said. "Our Trauma Medical Director Dr. Glenn Levine, Emergency Department Medical Director Dr. Michael Niedens, and Trauma Nurse Coordinator Meghan Brace have done an exceptional job of ensuring continued quality trauma patient care through performance and quality improvement programs," he continued.

Chief Nursing Officer Lora Lawson also spoke highly of Brace and the emergency department nursing staff. "Megan is doing an amazing job as Trauma Coordinator, managing the performance improvement and data collection. I'm very proud of the accomplishment of each of our emergency department nurses who have completed intensive training through Trauma Nursing Core Certification." The TNCC training empowers nurses with the knowledge, critical thinking skills and hands-on training to provide expert care for trauma patients.

"Optimal standards of care of the trauma patient have been adopted as the minimal acceptable standards," Hellerstedt said, explaining that as a Level IV Trauma Center, the hospital provides resuscitation and stabilization prior to transferring a severely injured adult or pediatric patient to a higher-level trauma system hospital. Resuscitation and stabilization may involve surgical intervention. Trauma trained nursing personnel are immediately available to initiate life-saving maneuvers, and physicians trained in Advanced Trauma Life Support are present upon patient arrival to the hospital. Ancillary personnel are also in-house or promptly available 24 hours per day. Level IV trauma centers have all of the appropriate equipment and diagnostic capabilities to stabilize the severely injured patient.

"It is very apparent that the recent achievements are a reflection of the continued commitment to excellence by our entire Network including our point of service staff, nurses, providers, administration and the Board of Directors," Hellerstedt said.




Curry General Hospital Earns Accreditation


GOLD BEACH, OR (February 5, 2015) - Curry Health Network announces the successful completion of its new accreditation process for Curry General Hospital from DNV GL-Healthcare, the first accreditation earned in the 60+ year history of the only hospital in Curry County.

By earning accreditation, Curry General Hospital has demonstrated it meets or exceeds patient safety standards (Conditions of Participation, or CoP) set forth by the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. DNV GL's accreditation program is the only one to integrate the ISO 9001 Quality Management System with the Medicare CoP.

"This recognition is a sign of our commitment not only to providing the best care for our patients, but also our dedication to continually improving how we provide that care," said Wayne Hellerstedt, CEO. "The ability to integrate ISO 9001 quality standards with our clinical and financial processes is a major step forward. We're joining the ranks of other larger healthcare entities with DNV accreditation."

Curry General has three years from the date of accreditation to achieve compliance with ISO 9001, the world's most trusted quality management system used by performance-driven organizations to advance their quality and sustainability objectives.

"This accreditation allows Curry General Hospital to follow the best practices for patient care while at the same time encouraging new ideas," said Pamela Brown, Director of Risk Management and Quality Assurance. "While the process of receiving this recognition was rigorous, it is also exciting because the program allows us to tap into the knowledge of our hospital staff to continue to evaluate and to assess our approach as we develop best practices."

The hospital underwent rigorous, unannounced on-site surveys and surveyors evaluated compliance with hospital standards related to several areas including emergency management, environment of care, infection prevention and control, leadership, and medication management. DNV surveyors also conducted on-site observations and interviews.

The hospital was granted accreditation January 27, and surveyors will visit the hospital on regular annual intervals to help ensure a level of constant readiness and to monitor the hospital's progress including preparation for ISO 9001 certification.

On behalf of the Board of Directors, Chairman Gary Anderson offered congratulations and thanks to the entire hospital staff for their hard work, commitment and dedication to the process of achieving DNV accreditation and providing quality care and safety for their patients - an achievement he described as a "major milestone" for the hospital, and for Curry Health Network.

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Board of Directors Adopts New Policies, Bylaws


GOLD BEACH, OR (January 28, 2015) - The Curry Health District Board of Directors has been working with nationally renowned board governance expert Bill Charney of Charney Associates, and board Chair Gary Anderson is now seeing the future of the Board and the Health District in a whole new light - optimistically and with confidence.

The Board on Tuesday, Jan. 20 finished their final day of three days of education begun in late October, and completed their development of the Board Governing Policies Manual, a 39-page document that defines the board process, management parameters, and board-management delegation.

The manual provides clear, proactive policies developed to guide District Board officers, members and committees, as well as the Chief Executive Officer and staff.

According to Curry Health Network CEO Wayne Hellerstedt, all five board members welcomed and embraced the governance education. However, Vice Chair Deb Wilson also gives a good portion of the credit for what she described as the current strength and cohesiveness of the Board to the addition of the two new board members sworn in last fall, Ryan Ringer and Rebecca Moore.

"Ryan and Rebecca really bring a lot to the table. With Ryan's business management and financial background, and Rebecca's knowledge gained through many years working for the Network, we couldn't have two better members. They each have young families. They are lifelong residents who understand the community needs, and they are very passionate about quality healthcare." Wilson said.

Anderson agrees. "The Board is functioning amazingly well together, and is working and communicating better with Administration," he said. "We as board members have diverse backgrounds and ages, and individual strengths and perspectives - yet together we just really 'fit'".

"The new governance system makes so much sense and we can already see the benefits," he said. "It is going to help the Board, it is going to help Administration, and ultimately it will benefit the community."

Bill Charney praised the Board's level of commitment and active participation in the process to improve the governance policies and procedures. "I like my work," he said, "but love it when folks really want to do right - not just go through the motions. This board has shown every indication that they'll implement the new strategies they learned to address the complex issues that all boards face." He paused, and then added, "I have every reason to believe that what was once an adequate board will continue to develop into a collaborative and exceptional board."

As impressed as Charney was with the Board, Moore was equally impressed with the governance education. "We all know and understand our roles and authority, we've set guidelines and boundaries, and what is even more exciting is that we're all now able to focus on the true purpose of the District."

According to the governing policies, that purpose is defined as "Healthy communities in which there is efficient, quality health care with results optimizing use of available resources".

The Governing Body of the District also revised their Bylaws during the Charney workshop and has committed to ongoing board development through continued education and training. The Board Governing Policies Manual and the Bylaws are available on the Network's web site.



Curry Medical Center Sets Patient Volume Records


GOLD BEACH, OR (January 16, 2015) - Since opening in 2011, patient volumes at Curry Medical Center on 5th Street in Brookings have continued to increase, breaking records on a regular basis. With the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, even more area residents - previously uninsured - are now seeking primary care providers. On average, the clinic and urgent care facility now see 2,171 patients per month, a 45% increase since 2011.

To combat the 25% increase in patient registrations within the last year alone, the number of providers offering services at Curry Health Network's southernmost facility has more than doubled to include seven primary care providers.

Two new providers also represent the addition of new services now available to area residents, says Danyell Thomson, Clinic Manager of the largest multi-specialty clinic in Curry County. "We're pleased to have brought on board Dr. Christopher Amsden, a specialist in Pain Management, and Pediatrician Dr. Raymond Harris."

Even with the addition of more providers, Curry Medical Center is facing a challenge to keep up with the ever-increasing volume of new patients. "Many of our new providers are already at full capacity," said Thomson.

"We've been working hard to streamline our processes to get new patients in the door, including asking patients to complete a new patient information packet prior to their visit. That data is entered into the EMR (electronic medical records) system and allows the healthcare provider to focus solely on the patient and not the computer," she explained.

Thomson has heard feedback indicating the perception of some patients is that the packets are used to deny patients access to clinic services or providers, but says nothing is further from the truth. "Those packets are designed to improve patient experience and quality care, and to match patients with the provider who best suits their needs. We processed more than 2,000 packets last year and were able to establish care with our providers for over 95% of those new patients."

A newly created position at the clinic is dedicated to assisting patients with establishing care. "The Patient Intake Coordinator will assign patients with providers and remain an available resource to help them navigate through the medical system," said Thomson. "We're doing everything we can to make the process of finding a healthcare provider easier for our community members, and we'll continue to make changes as necessary to ensure the process continues to be effective."

Wayne Hellerstedt, CEO of Curry Health Network, says the need for new healthcare providers is not unique to the Network's clinic in Brookings. "Efforts continue to recruit additional primary care providers for Curry Medical Practice in Gold Beach as well as for Curry Family Medical in Port Orford," Hellerstedt said. The Network is not alone. According to the Robert Graham Center, in 2012 the number of primary care providers in Oregon numbered 5,187. They project a shortfall of 1,174 by the year 2030 - not including 133 needed solely for the Affordable Care Act.

"Recruiting in rural areas also poses a unique challenge," Hellerstedt said, "and that may trickle down and contribute to increased difficulty in obtaining care." Health professionals are highly concentrated in urban locations, with only 10 percent of physicians working in rural locations, while one-fourth of the population resides in rural areas. "Of course the southern Oregon coast has so much to offer that is attractive to providers, and the addition of the new Curry General Hospital will also help in our recruitment efforts," he added.

Thomson remains optimistic about the improvements being made at Curry Medical Center, even with the challenges they are facing. "I'm very excited, and confident that the changes we're making will improve the patient experience," she said. "We're going to continue to strive to reach our mission to provide healthcare of the highest quality with genuine caring and compassion."



Rush Surgery Center Unveils Website Relaunch


BROOKINGS, OR (January 5, 2015) - Dr. John Rush, Physician Relations and Provider Contracting Manager of Curry Health Network's outpatient surgical facility, Rush Surgery Center, today announced that RushSurgeryCenter.com has introduced a re-vamped and re-energized website. The online venue is targeted to reach the residents of Curry County and Northern California by mixing educational and functional content related to healthcare providers and ambulatory surgical services offered at the Brookings facility.

By incorporating more information about the specialty services offered that are typically less likely to be performed in hospitals, Rush Surgery Center (RSC) and its new website is designed to help community members better understand how the surgery center compliments the hospital and Curry Health Network. Because an increasing number of insurance companies are directing patients to lower-cost outpatient facilities like Rush Surgery Center, this affords the Network an opportunity to serve those patients wishing to obtain quality care with local convenience and competitive pricing.

In addition, the new "Referrals & Consults" page offers an easy method for physicians who wish to refer their patients to the RSC providers for any of the ambulatory surgical procedures such as Colonoscopy, Cataract and other eye surgeries, Cosmetic surgery, and Pain Management procedures.

Patients will also find a wealth of information about the providers who perform procedures at RSC, as well as available procedures and pricing, where facility fees are typically less than 50% of hospital fees.

"The digital arena is becoming increasingly important for healthcare education, and as a gateway to assist new patients in obtaining services," said Dr. Rush. "We are proud to present new content and a new look to RushSurgeryCenter.com."

Local Convenience, Competitive Pricing, Quality Care
Rush Surgery Center
541.813.1835
www.RushSurgeryCenter.com




Dropping Interest Rates May Benefit Hospital

GOLD BEACH, OREGON - December 16, 2014
by Jane Stebbins, Curry Coastal Pilot staff writer


Curry Health Network officials continue to work closely with the USDA to obtain a $10 million loan [correction: $18,361,000] to build a new hospital in Gold Beach.

The process is taking longer than originally expected, but hospital officials hope to get final approval by the end of February or mid-March.

"We've had to jump through a few more hoops, and we're expecting a final list of questions from the USDA later this week, but everything looks good," said health network interim CEO Wayne Hellerstedt.

He said the USDA is finishing up its review of the network's feasibility study.

"There's always a chance (the loan request) will not be approved, but we've answered a lot of their questions and I'm confident it will be," Hellerstedt said.

Sam Goldstein of the USDA's Portland office said getting the loan in 2015, as opposed to this year, might be a good thing for Curry Health Network.

Next quarter, he explained, interest rates are expected to drop, which could save the hospital district a lot of money over the life of the loan.

"I don't even know if they know that," Goldstein said of the anticipated news. "They're thinking the rates will be around 4 percent."

Curry Health Network has applied for the loan to pay for about half [correction: one-third] of a new hospital planned to be built on the site of the existing facility.

After years of warning the hospital district that the building no longer meets various codes, the state told the board it would shut the facility down in two [correction: three] years if it wasn't brought up to standards or rebuilt.

That prompted hospital officials to put on a ballot last spring [correction: in November 2013] a $10 million general obligation bond question to build a new building, which voters approved.

Given the time constraints, the network's board quickly applied for the USDA loan and hired a design-build firm that has addressed issues ranging from the community's needs to concerns about the new hospital's location in a tsunami zone. [correction: Per current regulation based on SB 379 maps, Oregon Building Code does not prohibit construction in the current site location, an area outside the current tsunami inundation zone.]

USDA officials will meet with hospital officials this week to determine what final details they need from the financial feasibility draft, said Goldstein, who is the community programs director for rural development in USDA's Portland office.

"We have reviewed the market study and the feasibility study, and we'll prepare the response this week," he said. "We'll talk with them about what they need, or what clarification is needed, and get the feasibility report finalized. Then it'll be sent to the national office."

He paused.

"It still could be a little bit," he said. "These things always take a little longer than you'd like them to."
Goldstein declined to say what concerns the agency might have with the application, other than to say they involve some at both the financial end and the proposed facility itself.

"It's fairly complicated," he said. "There's still some things we need to know. It's not a simple credit application. If we were funding a GO (general obligation) bond, it wouldn't be hard because that's not very risky. But we have a local limit of $3 million. It's definitely above our local authority."

If all goes smoothly, the hospital will conduct the revisions, then a third-party public auditor will review the financial assumptions and draft an opinion of the feasibility study's validity. The Portland branch of the USDA would finalize the underwriting before it's sent to the national offices.

If for some reason the funding were denied, former Curry Health Network CEO Andrew Bair said other grant and local options are available.

"We're looking forward to hopefully getting it done," Goldstein said. "We're very interested in seeing the project progress. It'd be a really cool asset for the community."

Hellersted said he hopes to receive approval from the USDA's Portland office by the end of January, and approval from the Washington D.C. office by the end of February or March.

original article title: Loan delay may benefit hospital





Curry Health Network hires interim CEO

GOLD BEACH, OREGON - November 8, 2014
by Jane Stebbins, Curry Coastal Pilot staff writer


From his office in Gold Beach, all Wayne Hellerstedt sees is potential.

The Curry Health Network Interim CEO started work Oct. 27 after Andrew Bair left to take a job in Florida and be near family.

The two had worked together in Washington, and when Bair came to Curry County, he asked Hellerstedt - who after 33 years as a CEO in the healthcare realm now works as a consultant - to facilitate a strategic plan.

A new hospital needed to be built.

An emergency room was being demanded of citizens in Brookings.

Port Orford needed additional providers.

Hospital officials wanted the facility to obtain full accreditation.

"This organization is right on the cusp of explosive growth if all these pieces come together," Hellerstedt said. "Another reason is to help provide stability over the time it'll take to find a new, full-time CEO. It's an exciting time to be with Curry Health Network."

The backstory
Hellerstedt hails from the Upper Peninsula in Michigan, where he earned his master's degree in 1991 and began his career of management in healthcare settings.

Most recently, he worked at the Helen Newberry Joy Hospital and Healthcare Center in Newberry, Michigan, where he completed the negotiations for a $2.4 Million hospital bond and a $3.0 Million bond for two major renovation projects - a skill that could benefit Curry Health Network as it proceeds with its own hospital construction.

In capital improvements, Hellerstedt was responsible for a $4 Million project involving outpatient and long-term care units and developed a $3 Million, 25,000 square-foot dialysis center - also a much-clamored for amenity in aging Curry County.

Hellerstedt will stay here until late winter, at which point it is anticipated the Curry Health District board will have hired a permanent CEO.

The board is down to seven applicants from a field of a couple dozen that, in Hellerstedt's mind, shows how the area and hospital can attract quality medical care professionals. That wasn't as easy when visiting applicants set their eyes on the dilapidated facility that serves a community of almost 25,000 people.

"The difference is, you've got building plans (for the new hospital) that are excellent," Hellerstedt said. "For a hospital CEO coming into a situation where you can make such a huge difference in the community - that's what we, as CEO's, look for.

"The new hospital will improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the organization as a whole, there will be much more privacy for patients, and that will immensely help in the recruitment of providers. It will help with economic development in Gold Beach and Brookings - there are so many positive things about this building that make it an exciting time to be here right now.

"For me as a short-timer, it's exciting," he continued. "For a newcomer coming in on a full-time basis, this is the kind of stuff we love to be involved in."

Changes in time
He admits that, while he's "still trying to figure out his email and the way to the cafeteria," he feels he has it a little easier than Bair did when he first came on scene two years ago, particularly in any CEO's attempt to get additional healthcare services at the south end of the county.

"I've witnessed a major change in the attitude (in Gold Beach) with regard to Brookings," he said about the time between his last visit here and now. "It seems as though people are trying to work together for the good of the county compared to a couple years ago. I applaud everyone involved because it's important for both communities to work together."

The board, too, should start to be more functional, as a board education program was implemented recently to help all involved understand their role in the hospital machinations.

"It's helped define the roles and responsibilities of the board and administration and the operations of the organization," Hellerstedt said. "I think it went extremely well. They're becoming very much more functional. That educational program is coalescing the board into a solid working unit."

He also likes that qualms in the community about building the hospital in a tsunami zone are beginning to fade.

"From what I've seen, and in discussions with the architects, they are working hard to engineer it to meet standards," Hellerstedt said. "Whatever they build here is going to be 1,000 times safer than what is currently here.

"And do you wait 10 to 15 years to replace it when it falls apart or until you have substantially more dollars to put into it? It'll be so much safer and have the ability to provide so much better care, it's worth putting up now."

All that potential is enough to tempt someone to stay, he admits.

"I'm pleased to be here," Hellerstedt said. "I feel good about the board and the leadership team. Moving forward, I look forward to doing what I can until a new long-term CEO can be brought in."

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360 degree video of new Hospital Revealed

GOLD BEACH, OREGON - October 24, 2014
Curry County Reporter, Sean Hall

Curry Health Network Holds Town Hall Meeting


On Wednesday October 8, at 5 p.m., Curry Health Network held a town hall in the Gold Beach City Council Room to discuss the construction of the replacement hospital.



Curry Health Network CEO Andrew Bair introduced Erdman representatives Steve Wolters and Todd Wambach to discuss the construction of the hospital.

Erdman is the Wisconsin based company that is planning and designing the new hospital; Wambach is a architect working for the firm and Wolters is a senior vice president of the agency.

Currently the hospital is still in a design phase, although they have completed the schematics and the design of the hospital, some of the permits are still being worked out -- and the hospital is being reviewed by the Department of Health [correction: Oregon Health Authority].

Construction is scheduled to begin in early 2015, potentially around March, and is scheduled to be completed sometime in a years time -- March of 2016.

The total floor space for the design of the hospital will be 60,200 square feet, there will be 18 patient beds in private rooms, 2 operating rooms, the emergency department will include 3 exam rooms, 1 triage, and 2 bay trauma rooms, an imaging department, an infusion therapy center, a clinic consisting of 10 exam rooms and and a shared minor procedure room, a dedicated helipad, and on-site parking for 100 cars.

The facility will be 4 stories tall and is being designed to keep essential equipment off the ground floor to protect against the potential for flooding. Patients will also be kept in the top sections of the building for similar reasons, although Erdman has hinted that part of the decision would be aesthetic and that the view should be "amazing".

The next steps in the process will be the continuation of the permitting and review process, the continued design for the foundation (initial testing has determined that there is nothing but sand for more than 100 feet below the planned foundation), the advancement of construction and engineering documents and contracts, continued testing of the subcontractor market, and the ongoing collaboration with the USDA to secure funding for the hospital construction.

Curry County residents inside the health district (which does not include Brookings/Harbor area residents) are providing the Health District 10 million dollars for the project, and the rest of the cost is projected to come from a loan. Curry Health District has expressed confidence that the loan will come through, but they have inferred that there are other options and lenders available to them if their initial plan for funding does work out.

"There are other methodologies of funding if the USDA loan doesn't follow through," said Bair. "The USDA loan is just the best type."

Bair will have departed the Health District long before this, though (October is Bair's last month with CHD). A new interim or a full time CEO should be lined up to take over and help oversee the construction in the coming months ahead.

In mid December, the District should know whether they have secured the loan or not. Until then, it is just a matter of patience as the preliminary work is continued which should lead up to the hospital breaking ground (weather permitting) this winter/spring.



Firm unveils hospital floor plans

GOLD BEACH, OREGON - Oct. 10, 2014
By Jane Stebbins, Curry Pilot staff writer


A design team outlined to Gold Beach residents Wednesday night the floor plans of the new hospital they are in charge of building in that city.

The new building, almost double the size of the existing facility, will feature four stories at the west end of the property, an array of new technology the current hospital lacks, a dedicated helipad and space for 100 vehicles.


The existing hospital is more than a half-century old, offers little privacy to patients, is outdated and out of code.

"Its time of usefulness has come and gone," said Steve Wolters, senior vice president of the Wisconsin-based Erdman Health Care Real Estate Solutions. "Codes have changed tremendously. Every space in the hospital you have today does not meet code."

He added that the goal in constructing a new hospital has a "Triple Aim" of providing patient access, quality healthcare and safety for a lower cost, in hopes of "portraying confidence and stability".

The district asked voters to approve a $10 million general obligation bond to build a new one; those funds are hoped to be matched [correction: augmented] with a USDA loan.

According to Sam Goldstein, community programs director with the Oregon office of the USDA, the cost to replace the hospital now hovers around $29 million. The sale of Curry Health Network's Shore Pines, an assisted living facility in Gold Beach, could help the hospital's bottom line to obtain better loan terms. The board has been deliberating its sale in recent weeks.

The new, four-story hospital will be 60,200 square feet, feature 18 hospital beds, two operating rooms, five emergency rooms - three being exam rooms, one for triage and a two-bay trauma room - an array of imaging equipment, a clinic with 10 exam rooms and a cancer treatment floor.

It does not, however, feature the much-needed dialysis facility, Bair admitted.

"I think I've given up the right to speak to that because it is an unfinished (discussion)," he said. "It is not in this building (plan). There might be other opportunities in the future, but not this time."

He said he realizes the anguish dialysis patients experience every week, as they drive five hours round trip - to Coos Bay, Medford or Eureka - for a four-hour treatment, often three times a week.

Bair said the district would need a service whose cost would offset the expenses of a dialysis center, which are often paid for by Medicare and not fully funded.

"A year and a half ago, I thought that would move ahead," Bair said. "Then Medicare reimbursements were cut by 10 percent and that changed the dynamic of the conversation."

The district is not giving up, he said, adding that DaVita, a Medford dialysis provider, might be interested in a co-venture in which the district provides the capital dollars for a center and they would lease and operate it.

The hospital is institutional in appearance, with a wide, wooden-looking band around the third floor and heavy canopies over the entrances. Architectural details are few, to cut down on costs.

"This is not a Cadillac hospital folks," said Gold Beach City Administrator Jodi Fritts. "We're getting a Chevy, and we're glad to have it."

Cascadia's fault

Site plan discussion was segued by Al Davis, an engineer who expressed his concern about earthquakes and tsunamis, which had been briefly discussed in a meeting last May.

Reports available last fall that utilize better technology now depict a higher tsunami inundation line than the old analyses. Those have yet to be adopted by the state, and Erdman is using current state and city codes to design the complex.

"That (new) data is not codified (in state building codes), nor is anyone ignoring it," Wolters said. "The board took it into consideration. How much money do you put into a building? How much do you go beyond what you need? What's the risk?"

"Our environmental review process is complete, and a finding of 'no significant impact' has been issued (by the USDA)," Goldstein said. "They have to make some decisions as to what kind of preventive measures they're going to take. We can't say 'no' if they're following the rules. We have to use the information that's published and available at the time."

Hospital plans put vital mechanical equipment in elevated locations and patients on the upper floors - "Patients are incapable of self-preservation, so we put them as high as we can," Wolters said. Rooms where people don't spend much time - and assuredly not at night, he said - include the cafeteria, administration and kitchen, and will be in the lowest level of the building.

Putting patients in the top floors and getting ventilation and electricity systems at higher elevations increase the chances of survival during an earthquake and tsunami.

"All these issues have been talked about for a long time," Wolters said. "No one was dismissing the potential of a tsunami. No one is taking this lightly. At the end of the day, a lot of decisions have to be made.

"You can spend a lot of time and money to build for a (certain) velocity of water coming at you," he added. "But (how much) money do you spend for something that may or may not happen? It's a trade-off."

Gold Beach Administrator Jodi Fritts agreed.

"Risk assessment? Yeah, we thought about it," she said. "There's a lot of data out there - a lot of data the city, hospital and these gentlemen have (processed)."

On shaky ground

The district board is also under deadline: The state fire marshal and the Department of Health have told the district there are "issues with that building" they will no longer allow to be grandfathered and ignored.

Geological reports did not bode as well as hoped, either, and changes have been made to plans for the foundation because of them.

Erdman opted to build on the west end of the property where the soil is better - although even there, they've dug to 105 feet and found only sand.

"In the beginning, we expected to get a little different material," said Erdman architect Todd Wambach. "It was a surprise to everyone. It's not great stuff; let's put it that way."

In an earthquake, sand is the most vulnerable of soils. The many facets in a grain of sand create "contact stresses" that hold the grains together. If there is enough force in an earthquake, they break. That liquefaction of the soil structure causes the ground to lose all its strength, potentially bringing a building down.

In light of those geotechnical reports, Erdman officials have changed the design of the hospital's foundation.

When presented with the new earthquake and tsunami information this spring, the board decided to thank the state for providing it, and said "they'd consider it" in their deliberations.

Next steps

Erdman officials will continue to work on engineering construction documents, permits and lining up subcontractors for an anticipated ground-breaking next spring. The building is slated to be completed by the end of 2015, with the first patients arriving in the spring of 2016.

Bair said he anticipates hearing from the USDA about the "conditional loan note guarantee" - essentially the loan the district needs to pay for the balance of the cost - in mid-December.

"We feel it's first in the queue because we've been engaged with them for quite some time," Wolters said.

Bair said that, while "there is nothing to make us believe we're not going to get that funding … there are other funding mechanisms that can get this done."

"This is a big investment for the community," Goldstein said. "A facility in a rural area, especially with an elderly community, is very important."



DHS Survey: Zero Deficiencies at Curry Family Medical

GOLD BEACH, Oregon (October 9, 2014)

Recently Curry Health Network's clinic in Port Orford was surveyed by the Oregon Department of Human Services (DHS).

Last surveyed by DHS in 2009, the September 30 extensive survey found no deficiencies (zero - zip - nada - nothing) at Curry Family Medical. The surveyors commented that since their last visit they have noted a marked improvement. They were very impressed with the clinic and the entire staff, whom they described as highly engaged.

"This is a remarkable accomplishment of which Curry Family Medical, and Curry Health Network, can be proud. It's a fine example of adhering to the Network's mission to provide healthcare of the highest quality with genuine caring and compassion," said the Network CEO Andrew Bair.

The results of this survey are due in a large part to the staff Barbara Glicksberg, Tami Jones, Lori Galloway; medical staff Dr. Pitchford and FNP Mattie Mattlin; and Manager Marilyn Cain.




Board Welcomes Rebecca Moore and Ryan Ringer

GOLD BEACH, OREGON (October 9, 2014)

The Curry Health District Board of Directors on September 24 voted unanimously to appoint two life-long community members to fill the vacancies created by the resignations of M. John Spicer and Marlyn Schafer.

A dozen applicants vied for the positions, and the Board narrowed the field to a final five they interviewed September 24. In addition to Moore and Ringer; Bryan Grummon, Ruth Daniels and Jodi Fritts were among the finalists.

"We were very impressed with the depth of talent and the passion for the position that these candidates displayed," said Board Chair Gary Anderson. "This was a very difficult decision. Rebecca and Ryan are very committed to quality healthcare in Curry County."

Born in Gold Beach, Moore is recently retired and working to obtain a Masters degree in Psychology. Rebecca previously worked for Curry Health District for more than 12 years where she had the opportunity to work closely with each department within the Network, affording her extensive knowledge of all operations. Rebecca most recently served as Administrator of Shore Pines, the Network's assisted living facility, and prior to that, she was Regional Operations Manager for Sunwest Management and Director of Business Services at CHD.

Ringer earned a BA in Business Administration from Southern Oregon University where he also minored in Criminology. Ryan has very deep roots in the community, and has been with Gold Beach Lumber Yard since 2002. He currently serves as Vice President of Operations and General Manager of the 4th generation family-owned business where his accomplishments include supervision of the development of two new retail locations, a 400% increase in sales, and the development of in-house GL accounting practices. Ringer's strengths include business budgeting and forecasting.





Free Mammo Screenings, Oct. is Mammogramarama!

GOLD BEACH, OREGON (October 4, 2014)

Curry Health Network, your partner in breast health, is offering free Mammography screenings during Oct. 2014.


The most common risk factors for breast cancer are being female and growing older, although it knows no boundaries - be it age, gender, socio-economic status or geographic location.

One in eight women in the U.S. will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime.

Early detection saves lives.

Curry Health Network is committed to early diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer. During National Breast Cancer Awareness month in October, 2014, we are offering a free screening mammography, and a 25% discount on a diagnostic mammography.

Patient Scheduling

You may make an appointment for your screening mammography in Gold Beach at Curry General Hospital by calling 541.247.3117. For those who live in or near Brookings, call 541.412.2050 for an appointment at Curry Medical Center.

Physician orders are not required for a screening.



"Stuff the Bus" a Resounding Success


Curry Health Network cares about kids!

GOLD BEACH, OR (August 19, 2014) - Have you seen our official Curry Health Network pencil? If you were in Brookings on August 8 by the big yellow school bus parked near the entrance of Fred Meyer, you couldn't miss our very own Community Relations Admiral, Moira Fossum, dressed to the nines as a # 2 pencil when she represented Curry Health Network, one of the major sponsors of the 8th annual "Stuff the Bus" campaign.

Moira was on hand to lead the Marine Corp Volunteers as they collected school supplies, greeted the public and handed out Curry Health Network promotional materials.

Danyell Thomson, Clinic Manager at Curry Medical Center, lended voice to a radio spot (click here to listen) announcing the Network's participation. As she wisely said, we realize that the future success of our community depends on healthy, well educated children, and we want to do everything we can to encourage our young people and help them realize that good health leads to better learning.

Danyell also talked about the school sports physicals which were offered August 13 and 14 by the providers of Curry Medical Center for $10 each. All proceeds of the physicals were then donated to school sports programs - another successful endeavor which resulted in a $630 donation for the community children.

Danyell shared the exciting news that we are welcoming a pediatrician to our family of healthcare providers in October, Dr. Raymond Harris.

Stuff the Bus, a community effort to gather educational materials for local students, was a resounding success with a huge amount of school supply donations, plus $2,400 in monetary donations.

Thank you to Moira (our official pencil) and Danyell for their contribution to the success of "Stuff the Bus", and also to the CMC healthcare providers and staff who generously donated their time to make sure our youngsters are in tip-top shape and able to participate in their chosen sport!



Activity on New Hospital Continues


GOLD BEACH, OR (August, 15, 2014) - Activity continues at a rapid pace in the process to build the new Curry General Hospital.

There are bi-weekly telephone conferences being held with the USDA, Erdman Company (our design/build firm), the Project Manager from SOJ, and Curry Health Network CEO Andrew Bair and CFO Ken Landau.

The USDA has arranged for a representative from their California office to complete the review of the environmental survey, welcome news since it was thought possible there was potential for delay due to the fact that the Oregon representative who was originally to review the survey accepted a position elsewhere within their agency.

On July 29 an updated project budget and latest financials were submitted to Wipfli, the company which prepared the original feasibility study - a financial forecasting study. They are making good progress on the update necessary to account for the ending of a new fiscal year for the Network, and expect it will be completed in a timely fashion.

The Senior Project Construction Manager from Erdman was in Gold Beach this week, reviewing the site in terms of excavation requirements.

The Erdman team will be here the week of August 25 to meet with department managers and Administration to start detailed room layout including placement of cabinetry, furniture, equipment, etc.

The Board will hold its regularly monthly meeting on August 27 at 4 p.m., and Erdman will provide an update.

Schematic Design Documents were sent to the USDA this week, and we will meet in early September with the OHA Health Facilities Consultant in the Facilities Planning and Safety Department.

Progress continues!

Draft Floor Plans

PLEASE NOTE: Images are draft floor plans of the new hospital - still a work in progress and subject to change. Click on"any of the images to see an enlarged version. "Up" is "West" in the draft plans.




Hospital Receives USDA Eligibility Notice

Still many steps to be taken before final approval is given

GOLD BEACH, OR (August 1, 2014) - The Curry Health District Board of Directors and Administration continue to advance the plan for the design and construction of the new replacement Curry General Hospital in Gold Beach. The USDA continues to be helpful, and CEO Andrew Bair, CFO Ken Landau, and Steve Wolters of Erdman are working well with their officials.

On the recommendation of the USDA to engage the services of a Project Manager, we have brought on board Shiels Obletz Johnson (SOJ) of Portland to assist throughout the application process. Tor Flatebo, a local PE, remains our Owner's Representative.

July 16, the Erdman group met via virtual "go-to-meetings" with clusters of departmental managers to further fine tune the layout for optimum efficiency.

Wolters was on site July 25 to meet with the Board, Administration and Steve Cruzen of SOJ to go over the most recent budget figures including the cost of the foundation. Not surprisingly and based upon the poor soil conditions discovered in the geological technical survey completed by the Galli Group, foundational costs are higher than the earliest estimate of $1 Million.

On July 28, we received an official eligibility notice from the USDA stating the agency has determined that our project is eligible for funding. This is a very important and positive milestone. There are still many steps to be taken before the final approval is given, and funding is not anticipated until within the next fiscal year of the USDA, which begins October 1. We still anticipate a 2016 completion date.

July 29, Erdman, the Board, Administration and the Steering Committee met to make some important decisions. The board opted to pursue design Option 1 - a 60,000 square foot, four level (top floor is a 9,000 square foot maintenance equipment "penthouse") structure with 18 patient beds, two OR rooms, an ER (3 exam rooms, 1 triage, 2-bay trauma room), Imaging/Radiology, Laboratory, inpatient Pharmacy, and a Clinic with 12 exam rooms. We are initially planning for mobile MRI services, with a conference center that can be converted to a future fixed MRI. The site location and building design allows for future expansion.

Read other news.



He's baaaaack!

July 22, 2014

General Surgeon Luther Ward, MD returns


You know his face .....

You've missed his infectious grin .....

and great bedside manner .....

and compassion for his patients .....

combined with his incredible skill.

Curry Health Network is pleased to welcome back our esteemed General Surgeon Dr. Luther Ward, returning in August from his Harvard Global Fellowship in Haiti.

Dr. Ward has been helping establish a residency program at the "Hospital Haiti," a facility with 300 beds, six operating rooms and a full-time emergency room. The facility was built from the wreckage caused by the Jan. 12, 2010 earthquake that leveled much of the impoverished island nation.

He will see patients at the Network's clinics in Gold Beach and Brookings - Curry Medical Practice and Curry Medical Center, and perform surgery at Curry General Hospital.

Dr. Ward will be seeing patients August 4 through August 29 only, so schedule an appointment now by calling 541.247.3510.

Join us in welcoming baaaaaaack! Dr. Ward.



Introducing Orthopedic Surgeon William Rand, MD

July 22, 2014

When it comes to orthopedics, you want personal care that gets you back in action. Now you can get that care at Curry Health Network.

Introducing Orthopedic Surgeon William Rand, MD

Dr. William Rand received his medical degree from the UCLA School of Medicine, completed residencies in General Surgery and Orthopedics, then a clinical fellowship in Spinal Surgery.

With decades of experience, we are pleased to have Dr. Rand available to perform Orthopedic Surgery at Curry General Hospital.

Dr. Rand will begin seeing patients July 29 at Curry Medical Center in Brookings, and at Curry Medical Practice on the Curry General Hospital campus in Gold Beach.

Get back in action! Call 541.247.3510 for an appointment.





New Hospital Progress Continues

GOLD BEACH, Oregon (July 15, 2014)

Since the Curry Health District voters on November 5, 2013 approved a $10 Million bond measure for the construction of a replacement Curry General Hospital in Gold Beach, much has been accomplished. This spring when the timeline was set for the hospital project, it was an admittedly aggressive timeline but one which the District thought possible.

At a meeting between State USDA representatives, Curry Health District Board Chairman, CEO and CFO held July 7 in Salem, the District learned that while the USDA remains very supportive of the hospital plan in Gold Beach, the District had likely run out of time for obtaining an official commitment of USDA funding in their current fiscal year.

According to CEO Andrew Bair, Administration has been working very hard on the aggressive plan to obtain the commitment this fiscal year. "The environmental site assessment alone required correspondence with 14 different agencies, and while the length of time to complete is not atypical, it is lengthy. Our geotechnical and feasibility studies took longer than expected, and compounded by the tardy geotech study is engineering work to determine the cost of building on this site." The District plans to construct the new hospital just west of the current structure.

"We still do not know the projected cost of our foundation," said Bair, "although we should know by the end of this month." Soil samples at the site suggest the project will require deep foundations and slope stabilization, and the additional engineering work is needed to make a cost determination.

"Much work has been done, and as expediently as possible - yet the USDA just needed a little more information and a little more time," stated Bair.

Ken Landau, the District's Chief Financial Officer, says one of the USDA's key persons who was to review the environmental study has accepted another position within the agency, a move that may well have contributed to their decision that the window of opportunity for this fiscal year has likely closed.

"Based on the USDA instruction guide, there are a number of items that need to be completed by the State office prior to the District's next steps. We have provided all the reports and information to the USDA possible at this juncture - the next steps must be done by the USDA, mostly in the form of review," Landau said. The instruction guide is comprised of a list of 160 reports, studies, audits and documents needed; and the application process is lengthy, complicated and arduous.

Bair has been fielding the same question again and again - what does this mean? "We may still get funding, just not now. The next fiscal year for the USDA begins in October," he added. "While the USDA will never guarantee funding before the actual commitment, they remain - as they have always been - very supportive of the project. We also believe we are qualified for alternative funding, however that option would take time as well and involve another feasibility study."

He paused to consider the progress made in such a short period. "Remember," he said, "we just passed our ballot measure in November. Since then we have completed a market analysis study, financial feasibility study, geotechnical study, environmental site assessment and a land title survey. Ken has put forth a tremendous amount of energy into providing the USDA with all the financial information they require. We've hired an investment banking firm to assist with marketing the GO bond. We've selected a design-build firm and are deep into the planning stages of our new hospital, although there is still detailed design work to complete before we break ground."

Bair continued, "We had been pushing for an October ground-breaking that is not likely - however not completely impossible. We will know more after the next few Board meetings. We remain focused on building the new Curry General Hospital, and are committed to continue moving forward until our community ultimately has the appropriate modern and efficient facility necessary to provide them, for decades to come, the quality healthcare they need and deserve."

Illustrations: These architectural renderings are options presented to the Board of Directors by the Erdman team in late June. Please note that these are still very much preliminary conceptual drawings, and that the design layout refinement is an ongoing process.




Erdman to build new Curry General Hospital

GOLD BEACH, Oregon (April 7, 2014)

The Board of Directors for Curry Health District has selected by unanimous vote the Erdman Company, a Wisconsin-based national leader in healthcare consulting, facility planning, development and design-build, to build the new Curry General Hospital in Gold Beach.

Erdman Company has been designing and building healthcare facilities for 63 years, which, coincidentally is the age of the hospital they will be replacing. They have completed more than 4,600 healthcare projects, and in the last decade alone developed and constructed more than 550 healthcare facility projects with a value of more than $2.4 Billion.

"We're very excited to be working with Erdman on this project," said Curry Health Network CEO Andrew Bair. "Their team is knowledgeable and has vast experience focusing solely on healthcare facility planning, design and construction."

"We expect with Erdman that the community will have a healing environment that promotes greater well-being for our patients, and a hospital that is also operationally efficient," Bair added.

Erdman's record reflects that 99.5% of their projects are completed ahead of schedule, 98% are completed below budget, and their average change order rate is 1.42% - far below the industry average.

The Erdman team is onsite this week and has been meeting with the Board, Administration, and a Steering Committee as well as departmental managers.

Community Invitation to Town Hall Visioning Meetings

The community is invited and encouraged to attend upcoming visioning town hall meetings to offer input and ask questions about the new hospital. Meetings will be held in both Gold Beach and Port Orford. The first meeting will be held at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, April 23 at the Gold Beach City Hall; and another at 7 p.m. on Thursday, April 24 at the Port Orford City Hall.




PLEASE NOTE: These conceptual drawings by Erdman may or may not resemble the completed hospital. Decisions about site placement, number of floors, size, etc. have yet to be finalized. These are simply preliminary conceptual drawings.

























Echodardiography now available at Curry General Hospital

GOLD BEACH, Oregon (April 6, 2014)

The Curry Health Foundation and Curry Health Network wishes to thank Southern Oregon Cardiology of Medford for their generous donation of $10,000 to the foundation, funds earmarked as a contribution toward the purchase price of an Echocardiography machine for the patients of Curry General Hospital in Gold Beach.

Curry Health Network is providing the balance of the cost of the Echocardiograph, an instrument that uses high-pitched sound waves to create moving pictures of the heart.

The test - also called a heart ultrasound or "Echo" - is noninvasive and painless for the patient, and shows the size and shape of the heart in addition to how well the chambers and valves are working. Echo can detect possible blood clots, fluid buildup, and problems with the aorta. A trained Sonographer administers the test and the resulting information is transmitted to the cardiologists in Medford to be read.

"The Echocardiograph is a necessary cardiac diagnostic tool for our Emergency Department and Hospitalist physicians," said Andrew Bair, CEO of Curry Health Network. "We're appreciative of Southern Oregon Cardiology's contribution, and pleased to have this service available to our patients."



Curry General Hospital "Open for Delivery"

GOLD BEACH, Oregon (April 3, 2014)

Labor and Delivery services at Curry General Hospital resumed on March 1, and on March 5 the first baby - a healthy boy - was born in the new program, followed by a second baby boy delivered March 28.

"This is a needed service we are committed to provide to the community," said Andrew Bair, CEO of Curry Health Network. "We're pleased that mothers and families once again have the opportunity to have their babies in a safe, caring environment near home without the need to travel long distances."

Preston James Carpenter

Obstetric Services temporarily ceased in May 2013 when several nurses retired or resigned in close succession, leaving the hospital with no staff prepared to care for laboring women.

When the program was halted, administration immediately made plans to resume as quickly as possible, and the goal of a January 1 reopening was set. Peace Health in Eugene was to assist with specialized OB nurse training, but that plan never came to fruition after their offer fell through. Although Chief Nursing Officer Lora Maxwell quickly reached out to Providence-Medford for the needed training, the result was a program far behind schedule.

"Our nurses have been training in the OB unit at Providence to gain needed proficiency," said Maxwell. "This relationship will continue in the future."

Dr. John Jackson came aboard earlier this year to head up the new OB Services program as OB Medical Director, working alongside Dr. William Fitts. Nurse midwives Alice Taylor and Shilo McKenzie continue as members of the medical staff and have full privileges at Curry General, including delivering babies. The midwives are fully supportive of Drs. Jackson and Fitts, and Curry General Hospital.

With the newly trained nurses and the available doctor/midwife options, Curry Health Network's OB Services are "open for delivery" to provide the quality care that you and your baby need in a specialized and safe environment.




Curry Medical Center Urgent Care overwhelmed with Emergencies


BROOKINGS, Oregon (March 4, 2014) - Twelve of the 38 patients seen at Curry Medical Center's Urgent Care on February 20 were medical emergencies that required ambulance transport to a hospital. This situation at Urgent Care is becoming more frequent, and the resulting problems are two-fold.

Urgent Care is a same-day clinic that can handle a variety of conditions that need to be treated right away, but are not emergencies. For patients seeking Urgent Care, that creates a long wait while staff works with life-threatening medical emergencies that should have been seen at an ER.

A hospital Emergency Department is designed to provide fast, life-or-limb-saving care. Knowing the difference between Urgent Care and Emergency Care and where to seek treatment could save your life.

Brookings is the largest community in the state of Oregon without emergency services. State law prohibits having an emergency department in the absence of a hospital, and although Curry Health Network is working with city and county officials to raise awareness at the state level to remedy the situation, in the meanwhile Curry Medical Center's Urgent Care is the closest thing to a true emergency room.

It is not, however, an Emergency Department, nor are the available services and level of care provided equal to that of Curry General Hospital's emergency department, 25 miles north of Brookings. The hospital ED is staffed 24/7 with on-site board-certified physicians, and has earned a designation as a Level IV Trauma Center.

Just a few of the conditions that are medical emergencies that should be treated at a hospital Emergency Department include persistent chest pain, especially if it radiates to your arm or jaw or is accompanied by sweating, vomiting or shortness of breath; persistent shortness of breath or wheezing; severe pain, particularly in the abdomen or starting halfway down the back; loss of balance or fainting; difficulty speaking, altered mental status or confusion; weakness or paralysis; severe heart palpitations; sudden, severe headache; sudden testicular pain and swelling; newborn baby with a fever; intestinal bleeding; falls with injury while taking blood thinning medications; loss of vision; head or eye injuries; obviously broken bones or dislocated joints; bleeding that won't stop or a large open wound; vaginal bleeding with pregnancy; serious burns; seizures without a previous diagnosis of epilepsy.

It is vitally important to know the difference between urgent care and emergency care, and to know where to go to receive that care.





New Hospital Update: Architect teams return for final interview

Gold Beach, Oregon (February 25, 2014)

Four contractor-architect teams selected as finalists to build the new Curry General Hospital will be returning in March for final presentations and in-depth interviews.

In January, the Curry Health District Board of Directors held pre-interviews with eight teams who were vying to build the replacement facility in Gold Beach, and received on January 29 their formal responses to the Request for Qualifications (RFQ).

Earlier this month, the Board reviewed the responses to the RFQs, scored them according to pre-defined and weighted criteria, and selected four groups as finalists to return for more in-depth presentations and interviews.

Since that time and under the guidance of the USDA, expectations, more defined selection criteria and issues to be addressed at the final meetings have been developed. The USDA is one potential source of financing for the balance of the estimated $20 Million needed to replace the hospital, a 63-year old structure. In November, the District voters agreed to fund a $10 Million geo-bond for hospital construction.

The teams, during their final presentations, have been asked to present preliminary conceptual drawings for a facility that meets the community's needs using an estimated budget of $18 Million without equipment. Construction is expected to be completed in 2016.

Erdman, Cushing Terrell Architects & Engineers with Andersen Construction, Ankrom-Moisan Architects with Skanska Construction, and Aspen Street Architecture will make their presentations to the Board on Tuesday and Wednesday, March 11 and 12, at The Bridge Restaurant. One of the four finalist teams will then, at a later date, be selected to build our community's hospital. The interviews will begin at 1 p.m. each day, and the public is invited to attend, although due to time constraints public participation, if allowed, will be limited.

Once the contractor-architect team is selected, the Board has expressed a desire for the team to participate during a moderated brainstorming session to capture community input, as well as investigating the feasibility of giving site tours prior to ground-breaking. In an effort to keep the public informed, it is likely that intermittent public sessions throughout the project will be held.

In other hospital-related news, efforts continue in the process to issue requests for proposals for required surveys including site, geological and environmental.





Gold Beach, Oregon (January 16, 2014)

Contractors, architects vie to build new hospital


This week the Curry Health District Board of Directors and senior leadership team met with eight groups vying to build the new Curry General Hospital in Gold Beach. More than 65% of District residents in November voted to pass the ballot measure to replace the hospital, and since then there has been a whirlwind of activity.

Having traveled from California, Colorado, Washington, or within the state of Oregon, the firms began the day with a tour of the 63-year old hospital, led by Curry Health Network's CEO, Andrew Bair.

The groups, either Design/Build firms, or Architect and Contractor teams, or Architects, were allotted thirty minutes to give a presentation to the Board which was followed by a brief question and answer period. One question most often asked of the firms was their history of working with local subcontractors and local labor. The firms also answered questions about their experience with Critical Access Hospitals, coastal weather conditions, protection against obsolete working environments, cost containment, and keeping the current hospital functional during the construction phase.

Design/Build firms presenting included Neenan Archistructure, Belay, and Erdman. Architect and Contractor teams included Cushing Terrell Architect & Engineers with Andersen Construction, PKA Architects with Perlo Construction, TVA Architects with Adroit Construction, and Ankrom-Moisan Architecture with Skanska Construction. Aspen Street Architecture, a firm specializing in modular hospital design, rounded out the lineup.

"This was a pre-interview," said Bair, "and only the first step of the process to select a qualified firm who can meet our community's need for continuing and expanded healthcare services with a new facility that will accommodate today's modern technology - and last for decades." Bair continued, "All of these firms have a proven track history, and that includes speed to market which is vitally important."

The teams will be submitting by January 29 their formal responses to the RFQ (Request for Qualifications) which will include much more information than they were able to present in their brief thirty minutes. The Board of Directors will then meet on February 3 to carefully review the RFQs and select finalists to be invited back for a more in-depth interview.

Board Member Deb Wilson said, "It was really a diverse group, and each had their own unique presentation style that gave us insight into their project management philosophy and methodology, experience and background. They were all very qualified to do the project, so the Board will have an incredibly tough decision to select the finalists, and then ultimately the team who will build our new hospital."

Board member DeAnna Craig agreed. "All of them were very interesting, but some distinguished themselves with the ideas they presented. It will be very hard to choose."

The Health District expects that a final decision will be made by mid-February.





Feasibility study, Request for Qualifications

December 25, 2013

There are many steps required in the design and construction of a new hospital, and the passing of the November 5 ballot measure to replace Curry General Hospital was only the first of many.

The Board of Directors, governing body for Curry Health District, recently agreed to contract with an audit firm to perform a feasibility study that results in a forecasting model of a five-year budget. Lenders, bondholders and the USDA - as part of the financing application process - require the study. District taxpayers voted in support of a $10 million levy, and the District will be obtaining the other estimated $10 million from other sources.

Ken Landau, Chief Financial Officer, received proposals from four different firms, but the Board elected to go with Wipfli, LLC. Wiipfli has a proven track record of success with the USDA, and is a national firm Landau has worked with in the past. The feasibility study is expected to be completed in 12 weeks.

Administration and the Board of Directors have also been considering different project management methodologies including Design/Build, Design/Bid/Build, and Contract Manager at Risk - each having unique varying degrees of benefits associated with the particular methodology.

Board member Deb Wilson says there might be benefit in going with a Design/Build firm who specializes in healthcare facilities, has a proven record of accomplishment, understands our market, and can complete the project quickly. "The expertise of such a firm may result in lower overall costs," said Wilson.

To best ensure having a new hospital which meets the needs of the community and today's medical technology, and to make wise use of the taxpayers' investment, Andrew Bair, CEO, has this week issued a "generic" Request for Qualifications (RFQ). The RFQ will allow firms using all different methodologies to respond to the request. "It will be up to them to convince us why their firm and their methodology are best for us," said Bair.

All responding firms will be invited to attend a workshop on January 14 where they will meet with the Board, be walked through the scope of the new hospital project, and have any questions about the RFQ answered. The workshop is a preliminary event, and the deadline for firms to submit their responses and qualifications will be January 29.





December 18, 2013

Healthcare provider to join Curry Family Medical


Curry Health Network has signed a Letter of Intent with a new healthcare provider to offer services at Curry Family Medical, the network's clinic in Port Orford.

In late September, the Board of Directors for Curry Health District approved plans for service improvements at the clinic. They resolved to work toward providing expanded hours of operation, a travel stipend for residents who travel to the Curry General Hospital campus for services, free school sports physicals, appointment scheduling with clinic staff instead of an off-site scheduling department, and unscheduled appointments. The travel stipend, physicals and appointment scheduling goals have already been met.

The addition of Mattie Mattlin, FNP-C, is also in alignment with those goals. Mattlin is expected to join the staff later in 2014, and has expressed a desire to work Saturdays and evening hours. Currently the clinic is open Monday through Thursday, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., and since the recent retirement of Sandra Johnson, Dr. Tom Pitchford has been the clinic's sole provider.

Mattlin is board-certified by the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, and earned her Masters of Science (MS) - Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) from San Francisco State University. She began her health care career as a candy-striper volunteer, and then became a Certified Nursing Assistant, a Licensed Vocational Nurse, a Registered Nurse, and a Physician Assistant before earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychobiology/Sociology from the University of California, then her Masters degree.

Mattlin has extensive experience in geriatrics, holistic medicine and family practice. She plans on living in, or near, the community of Port Orford.




November 26, 2013

Details of new Gold Beach hospital emerge


With the success of the ballot measure now behind them, the Curry Health Network board of directors is now focusing on the next steps for Curry General Hospital, as well as expanding services in Brookings.

During its meeting Monday, the board of directors heard a presentation about what the new Curry General Hospital could look like, discussed the next steps in beginning work on the new hospital and authorized $17,000 to explore expanding services in Brookings. It also moved to issue requests for quotation [sic: qualifications] for an architecture and design firm and a feasibility study.

Michael Curtis of the Neenan Group from Colorado, presented preliminary estimations on what a new Curry General Hospital could look like.

Curtis showed how a 34,000-square-foot hospital could be built on the west side of the current hospital building. While nothing is certain, including the architecture firm Curry Health Network plans to hire, the preliminary drawings showed a hospital with 12 inpatient beds and one [sic: two] operating room[s].

Andrew Bair, CEO of Curry Health Network, said at the moment the board was in the "planning to plan" stages of the hospital, meaning that specifics are still very far from being decided.

Curry General currently has 24 inpatient beds, but averages only 5.5 occupied beds per day, with 11 beds being the maximum overnight occupancy number in the past year, Bair said.

While acknowledging a potential risk from tsunamis for any hospital being built on the General's current site, Bair said it is legal to build the hospital there because it is outside of an inundation zone from a 1995 map that dictates where buildings in Oregon can be legally built.

Bair said that besides that tsunami risk, constructing elsewhere in the town opens up the building to other risks, such as flood, landslides and erosion.

"Do you see any place in Gold Beach that is safe?" Bair asked the board when he showed the board maps of tsunami zones and potential landslide areas.

Additional funds needed

An additional $10 million also needs to be secured by the health network for the projected $20 million project. The loan would be paid back with revenue over the next 30 years. Ken Landau, chief financial officer for Curry Health Network, said there were three options for funding the additional $10 million: a U.S. Department of Agriculture loan, a loan from private investors or a Department of Housing and Urban Development loan. Landau said each loan option had its own advantages and disadvantages and he would be considering all three.

New hospital could capture market better

Curtis presented the board data about where the hospital could gain revenue by expanding services in Brookings and attempting to capture money that is currently going outside of the hospital district by potential patients seeking treatment elsewhere than network facilities.

Currently, 66 percent of network revenue comes from residents in Brookings, which is located outside of the hospital's tax district. But 84 percent of Brookings residents receive inpatient care from hospitals other than Curry General, mostly at Sutter Coast Hospital in Crescent City.

"A preponderance of inpatient care in Brookings is going to Sutter Coast," Curtis said.

Curry General only performs about 20 percent of surgeries on residents from Sixes south to the California border. Curtis said with the new hospital, Curry General could potentially capture more of its market and improve its revenue.

Under the time line Curtis presented, construction could begin in October 2014 and the new Curry General could be occupied by January 2016. Bair said these were estimates and the hospital is still in the early planning stages.

The $17,000 will go to investigating expanding services in Brookings. Brookings is unable to have its own hospital because of current regulations preventing another one from being established within 30 [sic: 35] miles of a critical access hospital, a designation that allows rural hospitals to receive more funding from Medicare. The $17,000 would pay for an investigation whether state law allows beds from the Gold Beach facility to be transferred to Brookings, which would allow Brookings to have emergency room services.

In other business the hospital board heard about:

•Turnover at the hospital, especially among the nursing staff. The hospital has established action committees to address employee and turnover problems. Curry Health Network has a 26- percent turnover rate.

•Bair said he was looking to start advisory committees in Port Orford and Gold Beach to garner feedback and input from the community about community needs for the hospital.

by Don Iler, courtesy of Curry Coastal Pilot



Voters Okay New Hospital

November 6, 2013

The General will be replaced.


About 65 percent of voters in the Curry Health Network's special district voted in favor of a $10 million bond to construct a new Curry General Hospital in Gold Beach and improve the Port Orford clinic.

"It's so great for the community," said Deb Wilson, a board member for Curry Health Network, who joined other supporters of the measure at a Gold Beach restaurant Tuesday night.

"With a new facility, we will be able to bring in health care professionals and new services," Wilson said.

Andrew Bair, CEO of Curry Health Network, said that hospital personnel will start interviewing architect firms in the coming weeks and he hopes to break ground on construction in spring or summer of 2014.

"I'm grateful for the efforts of the many people who put so much energy in making this occur," Bair said. "It will be beneficial to the community for generations to come."

The bond is for 74 cents per $1,000 of assessed value in the special district, which stretches from Pistol River north to Elk River. It does not include Brookings. In addition to the hospital and the Port Orford clinic, the Curry Health Network also operates the Curry Medical Center in Brookings.

The 60-year-old Curry General Hospital does not comply with fire and safety codes, and could have been shut down in 2016.

The hospital's emergency room [correction: operating room] was closed for two months this summer because of fire and safety code concerns.

The new hospital will be built on the same lot as the current facility, which will remain open until the new one is completed.

District officials hope to match that money from the bond with $10 million from a U.S. Department of Agriculture grant to construct a $20 million facility.

"It's better than we expected," said Dale Thomas, co-chairman of the Friends of Curry General Hospital PAC. "We knew we had to win big in Gold Beach."

Article courtesy of Curry Pilot, written by Don Iler - staff writer, and published November 6, 2013.

PLEASE NOTE: The reference to a USDA grant is an inaccuracy in the newspaper article. This misinformation is not attributable to Andrew Bair, Dale Thomas, or Curry Health District. The District is seeking financing, not a grant, from the USDA or other sources.



Replace aging Gold Beach hospital . . .

November 5, 2013

On November 5, voters will decide whether or not to build a new hospital in Gold Beach, improve the Port Orford clinic, and increase health care services in Curry County. Outdated facilities can't accommodate modern medical technology and advances in medicine. This bond would secure an additional $10 million in a low-interest loan to build a new $20 million hospital in Gold Beach.

Why Now?

Curry General Hospital in Gold Beach is more than 60 years old. It's expensive to maintain and cannot accommodate new wiring and duct work. It barely meets Medicare and state licensure standards. In fact, the current waiver for compliance with modern fire codes expires in mid-2016, and will likely not be renewed. If the hospital is not in compliance, it could be forced to close. Construction of a new hospital on the existing Curry General Hospital campus will take approximately 12-15 months, which would require design and development to begin in the Spring of 2014 to complete the hospital by the end of 2015.

The clinic in Port Orford would expand its services, including more specialists (Orthopedist, Internist and Ear-Nose-Throat specialist). Learn more about other planned improvements for Curry Family Medical.

A New Hospital Would


Function efficiently
Support current medical technology
Be patient-centered
Attract and retain quality physicians and staff
Meet current codes
Provide essential healthcare services, so people choose to live and work in Curry County
Reduce need to travel to distant medical facilities
Improve local economy. Workers who don't live in the local area may spend an estimated $1 Million on lodging and meals during the hospital's construction.

What are the hospital's deficiencies?


Not enough exam and treatment rooms
Exam and treatment rooms are too small to incorporate newer technology
Need an additional operating room
Dated technology in operating room
Limited space and patient privacy in Emergency Department
Poor work flows create inconveniences for patients and unnecessary costs
Congested areas reduce patient privacy


$10 million bond measure


Increase property taxes 74¢/$1,000 of valuation
Double the $10 million in bond funds through low interest matching loans
Hospital Levy Calculator

Additional information


The District has included a provision to issue an annual credit up to $150 per year, per property, for five years.
The credit may be applied to co-payments and deductibles for District services. For those without insurance, the credit can be applied to the entire bill.
Other terms and conditions apply.



October 29, 2013

Helicopter lands at Curry General Hospital ER

Underscoring need for hospital and life flights from Gold Beach
By Don Iller


A helicopter in the parking lot?

Yes, if you were in Gold Beach Monday afternoon and saw a helicopter landing in the parking lot of Curry General Hospital, you saw right.

Within 40 minutes of receiving a call, a Mercy Flight helicopter from Medford landed and a patient in critical condition was transferred to the helicopter within 10 minutes. The transfer was a "hot load", a transfer without an aircraft shutting off its engines.

Lora Maxwell, Chief Nursing Officer at Curry General Hospital, said it was the first helicopter landing the hospital has had in three years. Law enforcement officials blocked off the streets in order to make sure no one used the sidewalks and got caught up in the rotors.

Maxwell said they were fortunate that staff had a meeting a week prior with law enforcement about what they would do in such a situation.

After the patient was loaded into the helicopter, the helicopter made it to Rogue Valley Medical Center in Medford in 20 minutes. While unable to give the patient's name, diagnosis or condition because of medical privacy laws, Maxwell said the quick transfer of the patient went well.

Cheryl McDermott, executive assistant to CEO Andrew Bair, said that if the new hospital bond measures passes, architects are looking at putting in a helipad with the new hospital building.

Helicopters can be limited in their use by weather, however.

"With a new hospital and good weather, it's something we'd like to see more of," McDermott said.



October 22, 2013

Curry Health Network adds Speech, Occupational Therapy services

Curry Health Network recently announced the addition of speech and occupational therapy now available at Curry General Hospital in Gold Beach, and at Curry Medical Center in Brookings.

"With services tailored to individual needs of both inpatients and outpatients, our partnership with Synertx allows us to offer innovative programs with a professional speech-language pathologist that address difficulties with speech, language and swallowing disorders," said Curry Health Network CEO Andrew Bair. "We've also added occupational therapy rehabilitation to our growing list of available services.

"Both speech and occupational therapies are also important components of our Swing Bed program in Gold Beach," he added.

Swing Bed is a program covered by Medicare that is an alternative to prolonged acute hospitalization or short term nursing facility placement for post-acute extended care. The swing bed program at Curry General Hospital provides skilled nursing care and rehabilitation therapy services. "There are no facilities in Gold Beach that provide our swing bed therapies that allow patients to get the care they need right near home, and near their friends and family," Bair said.

Occupational therapy provides experience and practice with actual tasks to enable patients to participate to the fullest extent possible in activities in their daily living environment.

According to the American Occupational Therapy Association, occupational therapy may be of benefit to those with work-related injuries including lower back problems; limitations following a stroke or heart attack; arthritis, MS, or other serious chronic conditions; broken bones or other injuries or accidents; burns, spinal cord injuries, or amputations; vision or cognitive problems that threaten the ability to drive; and more.

The new therapy services are available by appointment at Curry General Hospital in Gold Beach, and at the Network's clinic in Brookings, Curry Medical Center. Referring physicians and patients may call 541-247-3134 for an appointment at either location.

"We're very happy to offer these vital health care services to our community," said Bair.




October 16, 2013

Proponents of hospital bond argue their case

by Don Iler, Pilot staff writer
"The General" is running out of time. At least that is the message from supporters of the Nov. 5 bond measure to construct a new hospital in Gold Beach.

"We have a three-year waiver until the summer of 2016," said Dale Thomas, co-chairman of the Friends of Curry General Hospital PAC. "We will not meet codes once the grandfather clause expires."

Thomas said that if the hospital is not replaced, it is highly likely the state will shut it down because the 60-year-old facility is not up to code. And with repairing the current facility not financially feasible, it is more effective to build a new hospital on the site of the current one, keeping the old one open as a new hospital is built.

Residents within the hospital district [correction: health district], which stretches from Pistol River to Port Orford, will vote on a hospital bond measure. Curry County residents living outside the district don't have a say.

"If the bond measure doesn't pass, a lot of things will go away," said Andrew Bair, CEO of Curry Health Network, which oversees Curry General Hospital, and clinics in Brookings and Port Orford.

"This hospital here is out of compliance with a lot of building codes. We know the state's fire marshal and health inspector will be back in three years and we don't want to have it closed," he said.

Curry General Hospital already had to shut down its operating room for two months over the summer because it was out of compliance with the state.

The closure which Bair said cost the hospital $600,000 in lost revenue.

The special district that will be voting stretches from Pistol River north to Elk River. People south of Pistol River, including Brookings, will not be voting on the ballot question.

The tax measure will raise district property taxes 74 cents per $1,000 of assessed value. Bair said he expects the measure to raise approximately $10 million, which will be matched with federal funds to build a $20 million facility. Funds would also be used to make improvements at Curry Health Network's clinic in Port Orford, increasing the number of hours it would be open, specialists who visit it, walk-in visits, and free sports physicals. Bond money would not be spent on anything except building the new hospital or improving Port Orford's clinic.

If the measure passes, construction would start on the new hospital in spring of 2014, with a move to the new facility by the spring of 2016, just before state inspectors could potentially shut the hospital down.

"It's among the last critical access hospitals in the state of Oregon to be replaced," Thomas said.

Curry General Hospital is the largest employer in Gold Beach and if the hospital closed, not only would the jobs leave, the number of students in schools would drop and the cost and travel time to reach medical services would increase.

Without a hospital in Gold Beach, residents there would lose the so-called "golden hour," with those suffering traumatic injuries or heart attacks unable to reach medical services within the optimal 60 minutes when life saving measures are the most effective.

Thomas said that the hospital would be able to attract more health professionals to a new facility, and it would help the hospital attract and retain residents there. He also said a new facility could help generate more services and profits, which could allow the hospital to potentially have services such as dialysis, which many in the community have requested.

Without the new hospital, the Curry Health Network-run Brookings clinic would also have no chance at getting an emergency room or hospital beds of its own, Thomas said.

Competing with other tax measures

Bair said the board decided to put the tax measure on the ballot this year because it felt it could not wait. It is thought that having numerous competing tax measures on the ballot decreases the likelihood that any of them will pass. The county is attempting to pass tax measure 8-73, which will fund law enforcement services at the county and prevent it from going into bankruptcy. Port Orford is also being asked to vote on another tax levy to fund its police department.

"I don't have the luxury of waiting," Bair said. "I had some good people ask us to wait, but with the recent health department visit, I don't know if we have the time."

Voters could receive their ballots as early as this Saturday or next week.

A public forum about the hospital tax measure will be held at 5:30 p.m., Thursday, at the Gold Beach City Hall.




October 16, 2013

Health District levy wins support of Gold Beach City Council

by Sean Hall, Curry County Reporter
The Gold Beach City Council met on Monday October 14 at 6:30 p.m. in the City Council chamber room in City Hall.

In attendance were Mayor Karl Popoff, City Administrator Jodi Fritts, and Council members Larry Brennan, Brice Gregory, Tamie Kaufman, and Melinda McVey. Absent from the meeting was Councilman Doug Brand.

The meeting quickly came to order after roll was called and the pledge of allegiance was recited.

Miscellaneous items - There were several miscellaneous items addressed toward the end of the meeting, but the bulk of the meeting consisted of a presentation by Andrew Bair and Dale Thomas concerning the Hospital Bond Measure which is upcoming on the fall ballot - as well as the County-wide Law Enforcement Levy (also on the ballot) - which was presented to those in attendance by County Commissioner David Brock Smith.

New member - The Council also gained a member during the proceedings when High School student Lyndsey Dixon was voted on as the student body liaison for the City Council for 2013-2014. This will be Dixon's second stint as a liaison to the board - having done so once two years ago.

A presentation by Curry Health District - For several weeks now members of the public action committee for the Health District have been speaking to nearly any interested party in regard to the bond measure residents of the health district (an area that stretches from Pistol River to Elk River and does not include Brookings) will be voting on in the fall.

"We aren't asking for all of it from the community," said Bair, referencing the $10 million the Bond measure would match to federal sources in order to build the $20 million hospital.

"This is not a political issue, this is a community issue," Bair continued. "If there is no emergency room (here in Gold Beach), you will get into an ambulance and you will go to Bandon or Crescent City.

According to Bair and Thomas, since June the hospital has lost revenue and resources dealing with safety issues and regulations. For several months, parts of the hospital were closed owing to an order from the fire marshal who determined that parts of the hospital are outdated and pose a serious threat to safety.

"If we wait until May - it pushes the hospital timeline past the date the fire marshal can (officially) close the hospital," said Thomas. The average hospital life is 40 years, Curry General is 60 years old ... We can go forward and put a firewall through the middle of the hospital, but revamping the old structure costs almost as much as building a new one - but you lose some of the efficiences (and benefits) of a new structure when you do that."

"The hospital is the city's largest employer," said Bair. "We need an orthopedic surgeon." And the public action committee thinks that a new hospital would serve as a vehicle for the recruitment and retention of medical talent.

Part of the presentation concerned Port Orford and Brookings as well. Bair made it clear that no tax dollars have been used - or ever would be used - to build facilities in Brookings, and that the Brookings clinic pays for itself as it makes a profit.

"Brookings is sitting between two critical access hospitals with 35 mile boundaries," said Thomas. "Brookings is not going to get their own hospital.

Curry Health District would like to see medical services expanded in Brookings however, which would potentially include a satellite emergency room facility, but "Brookings would have to decide whether they would pay for it," said Thomas - which would be after successfully wrangling their way through any number of regulatory hoops.

"We think there is an additional $70 million in the area for medical services (that we aren't yet capturing)," said Bair. "A new hospital would bring in more patients, and it would allow for more services.

Curry Health District also plans on using the bond measure to increase operating hours and available services in Port Orford. Tax dollars in Port Orford already [inaccurate: should be "almost"] cover the losses from Curry Medical Center [inaccurate: should be "Curry Family Medical", the Port Orford clinic] - and aside from potentially making specialists available in Port Orford on a weekly rotation, the Health District would like to offer extended physicals [inaccurate: should be "free school sports physicals"], and x-ray services - as well as a $25 travel voucher for qualifying residents who live in the Health District who need to the hospital in Gold Beach [inaccurate: vouchers are for residents of the Port Orford zip code who travel to Gold Beach to receive health care services on the Curry General Hospital campus].

After the presentation, the council gave limited comment.

"I support this measure 100 percent," said Brennan.

"It is a shame that this had to coincide with the other measures," mused Popoff. But he indicated his support for the measure, as well as "all three measures," and offered his thanks to Bair, and particularly to Thomas and Dr. John Rush, whom he has viewed as "instrumental" in the Bond measure - as well as many other things.

Curry County Commissioner David Brock Smith, and the levy - After the hospital presentation, Commissioner Smith stepped up and presented the new county newsletter to the council as well as a resolution asking for the Council's support on the County-wide Law Enforcement levy.

"I don't think anyone here would argue that we don't need a new hospital," said Smith as he stepped up to give his presentation.

This year, newsletters are going to be going out to prospective voters, including a relatively personalized tabulation to each property holder in the county, laying clear how new property taxes would directly effect [sic: affect] them.

"We were able to merge data to give a personalized breakdown of how new taxes would effect [sic: affect] you (as well as the county)," said Smith.

The newsletter will contain information - including a pie chart breaking down how taxes are distributed by district - including schools, port, library, health, city, county, and fire districts. Of note is the relatively small slice of the pie that county services takes from the tax fund whole.

Listed as well are the services funded by the county government, and an illustration of the deficit the county government is currently running - a $3.2 million deficit that has rendered this tax levy - or failing that, state legislation already drafted to deal with this shortfall should Curry county residents not address it - necessary.

"$3.2 million is needed for current levels of services," said Smith. "It basically keeps the doors open and lights on for the County."

"Even with $1 million from O & C funds, we are still faced with a $2.2 million shortfall," said Smith.

"If the levy does indeed pass, we have three years of operation. What happens after three years?" asked Mayor Popoff?

"We are in a unique position," said Smith. "We (Defazzio, Wyden, Itzen and Brown) are in a unique position. We have never been as primed for a permanent fix in regards [sic: regard] to O & C land (and other projects) as now ...

"The three year bridge will give us until July 2017." (By which time it is hoped more permanent solutions will have been in the works to address the budget shortfall in Curry County).

"The alternative is HB 3453," Smith continued, which would be the State solution to county-wide fiscal distress. If the County is in danger of losing what is deemed essential services, it can step in with the go-ahead from the board of commissioners and impose an income tax without the vote of the county electorate.

"We get three more shots at this," said Smith. "I think I can tell you that it can't be less than this. The State's solution will be more expensive ...

"It isn't something that I like, but we got to keep the jail open and law enforcement funded."

"A 12 percent increase to income tax would be a lot worse than this levy," said Brennan.

- After addressing these special orders of business, the council moved on the handful of items left on their agenda. This included a second reading of the alley vacation ordinance, as well as a discussion and determination on City policy regarding derelict and potentially dangerous property.

Specifically, the council decided that the property on 94270 Button Lane was a potential danger to the community, as well as unsightly.

There was unanimous approval that the council would take action regarding it.

The council also unanimously agreed to look into their policies regarding vacant property deemed to be a nuisance, giving every indication that this policy - as well as the building situation on Button Lane - would be looked into in the coming months.

"It is a shame we had to wait this long to do something about this," commented Popoff before the vote came in deeming the building dangerous and that the City would take action regarding it.

The Council also shortly discussed the possibility of shelter being provided to children at set bus stops. Specifically, Brand requested the agenda item to be discussed in his absence regarding a set location where a shelter could be provided for waiting children - and although his fellow councilors found the idea nice - they decided that providing shelter in one area would engender the idea of providing it elsewhere in the spirit of equal treatment - and as there are a large number of bus stops within the city jurisdiction, such an idea would be untenable in practice.

McVey suggested that a "group of parents (or similarly concerned citizens) should get together, provide the funding, and (spearhead) this project."

More levy discussion - Afterward, the council once more began to talk about the law enforcement levy as well as the bond measure.

Smith brought forward a resolution of support for the measure toward the end of the meeting, which lead to discussion but garnered unanimous support from the Council - who voted to support the resolution.

"I think quite frankly that we should support this," said Popoff. "I do not want the State to come in and dictate to us. We need to take control of this (ourselves)." If the law enforcement services failed in the County, "criminals would be ticketed and released in Gold Beach (as the county would find itself unable to hold on to anything but the most violent of offenders)."

As the discussion moved on - it became increasingly more broad.

"I'll support the Law Enforcement levy when Port Orford supports the hospital bond measure," said McVey - also adding later that she is "in favor of all three (ballot measures)."

"If we do this one, we should do them all," said Kaufman.



October 10, 2013

Curry General Hospital tops State in stroke care

GOLD BEACH, OR - If you or someone you know has a stroke, faster care can mean a better outcome. In 2012 Curry General Hospital was the top hospital in the State of Oregon for providing clot-busting medication for stroke victims. Of all 58 Oregon hospitals, large and small, Curry General Hospital was the quickest on average for providing this life saving treatment.

Though there was not adequate information available to assess how the hospital compared this past year, Curry General was second in the State for how rapidly CT scans (Computed Tomography) were performed for patients with stroke symptoms.

This quick response is supported by telemedicine care through Providence Brain and Spine Institute of Portland. Through a secure two-way video system robot known as "Telestroke", stroke neurologists are virtually at the patient's bedside working with the Curry General Hospital emergency department physician and ER team to provide high quality care.

"This is remarkable care for such a small facility," said Andrew Bair, CEO of Curry Health Network.




October 4, 2013

Port Orford clinic to receive improved services

PORT ORFORD, OR - The Board of Directors for Curry Health District has unanimously approved plans for service improvements at Curry Family Medical, the Network's clinic that serves the residents of Port Orford.

At the meeting held September 25 in the conference room of the Port Orford Library, the Board resolved to work toward providing expanded hours of operation to, at a minimum, include Fridays. For some time the clinic has been open Monday through Thursday only.

Urgent Care services for walk-ins and unscheduled appointments are also planned; and as of September 30, a travel stipend in the form of a $25 gas card is available to any District citizen who resides in the 97465 zip code who travels to the Curry General Hospital campus in Gold Beach to receive health care services.

In addition, the telephone tree system will be changed so that Port Orford residents calling the clinic will be speaking with the staff of Curry Family Medical instead of an offsite centralized scheduling department, allowing for more personalized service with immediate appointment scheduling.

School sports physicals, with an appointment, are also being offered to Port Orford children at no charge; plus arrangements have been made to allow the clinic staff to consult with the board-certified Emergency Room physicians at Curry General.




October 3, 2013

Curry General Hospital committed to provide OB services

GOLD BEACH, OR - Hospital Administration has been working diligently to bring OB services back to Curry General Hospital, and remain optimistic that babies will again be born in Gold Beach after the first of the coming year in 2014. Labor and delivery services temporarily ceased this summer, and plans to restart services as soon as possible were made immediately thereafter.

"This is a service we are committed to provide to the community. The addition of Dr. John Jackson is the final provider component we've been seeking," said Andrew Bair, CEO of Curry Health Network. "Dr. Jackson will play an integral part of the re-opening of the Labor and Delivery Service at Curry General." Dr. Jackson's specialties include Family Practice and Obstetrics, and he will be working with OB/GYN Dr. William Fitts and Nurse Midwives Shilo McKenzie and Alice Taylor.

"Another component is the specialized OB training that our nurses will be receiving, and Chief Nursing Officer Lora Maxwell has done a great job in finding the best program available for our staff, and continues to work with Providence to set it up," said Bair.

Dr. Jackson earned his Doctor of Osteopathy degree from Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine; completed a rotating internship at St. Barnabas Hospital in New York, a residency in family medicine at the Chicago Osteopathic Hospital, and a fellowship in Surgical Obstetrics at Family Medicine Spokane in Washington State.

"Dr. Jackson will be a great addition to the medical staff of Curry General Hospital, and he is very excited to be moving to the community," Bair said.




September 25, 2013

Surgical department grows at Curry General Hospital

GOLD BEACH, Oregon - As many know, Curry General Hospital's general surgeon for the last three years, Luther Ward, MD, has taken a leave of absence for one year for a Harvard Fellowship that includes work in Haiti. Even though Dr. Ward will be returning in late spring of 2014, Curry Health Network has brought on board Dr. Glenn Levine.

Dr. Levine is a board certified General Surgeon with decades of experience who earned his medical degree from State University of New York and completed his internship and residency at University of South Alabama Medical Center. Dr. Levine performs surgical procedures at Curry General Hospital; and sees patients at clinics in both Curry Medical Practice in the Curry General Hospital annex, and at Curry Medical Center in Brookings.

When Dr. Ward returns, there will be two general surgeons serving our community.

In addition to a new general surgeon, Dr. Steven Johnson, a board-certified Urologist, will be joining Curry Health Network in October to work in conjunction with Dr. Harm Kraai. Dr. Johnson comes to the area from Twin Falls, Idaho; earned his medical degree from Northwestern University - The Feinberg School of Medicine, completed an internship in surgery at the Bexar County Teaching Hospital through the University of Texas, and completed residencies in general surgery and urology at University of California at Los Angeles School of Medicine.

After the beginning of 2014, Curry Health Network will welcome Family Practice physician Dr. John Jackson who will play an integral part of the re-opening of the Labor and Delivery Service at Curry General Hospital. Dr. Jackson's specialties include Family Practice and Obstetrics; and he will be working with OB/GYN Dr. William Fitts and Nurse Midwives Shilo McKenzie and Alice Taylor. Dr. Jackson earned his Doctor of Osteopathy degree from Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine; completed a rotating internship at St. Barnabas Hospital in New York, a residency in family medicine at the Chicago Osteopathic Hospital, and a fellowship in Surgical Obstetrics at Family Medicine Spokane in Washington State.

Ear, Nose and Throat specialist Dr. Steven Shimotakahara continues to provide services in Gold Beach, while Dr. Reg Williams will utilize the surgery suite at Curry General Hospital for surgical procedures. Curry Health Network continues to recruit for an Orthopedic Surgeon and Podiatrist.

"We're happy to welcome Drs. Levine, Johnson and Jackson to the Curry Health Network family of healthcare providers," said CEO Andrew Bair. "We continue to look for ways to offer expanded services to our community."





September 23, 2013

Curry General Hospital offers new hospitalist program

GOLD BEACH, OR - Curry General Hospital is pleased to announce a new hospitalist program which began September 9, 2013. Many larger hospitals throughout the country are taking the hospitalist approach to patient care. Hospitalists are highly-qualified physicians who focus on each patient's care while in the hospital, from time of admission to time of discharge. They do not replace the patient's primary care physician, but work in close consultation with them to provide case management for the patient. A medical doctor will now be available on site 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to provide inpatient hospitalist care for patients at Curry General Hospital. The hospitalist will provide complete care for the patients of physicians on staff who have chosen to use the hospitalist service, and for patients who currently do not have a primary care physician.

Hospitalists will admit patients, order diagnostic tests and lab work, plan treatment, consult with specialists and discharge patients from the hospital. After discharge, a summary of each patient's hospitalization record will be sent to his/her primary care physician or surgeon, and the patient will follow-up with their own physician at his/her office.

"While many large facilities use hospitalists, we feel ours is uniquely better than most," said Curry Health Network CEO, Andrew Bair. Rather than our hospitalists working 12-hour shifts like most hospitalists, the hospitalist at Curry General Hospital will work a 7 to 10-day shift. The reason they can work this unusual shift is because the volume in our hospital is lower than metropolitan hospitals. "There are fewer hand offs of care between physicians, which will improve our quality of care," Bair said. In addition to being on site 24/7, the hospitalists at Curry General in Gold Beach will carry a cell phone for staff, patients and families of patients to call anytime. "It's a wonderful service we're very excited to bring to the community," said Bair.




September 18, 2013

ER services improved at Curry General Hospital

GOLD BEACH, OR - It has been Curry General Hospital's policy to have an Emergency Room Physician on campus 24 hours a day for the past two and one-half years. It was not that long ago when physicians that were not on campus staffed the hospital's emergency room in Gold Beach; often responding from their homes, office or elsewhere locally while on call. While this is a practice used by many other small communities, Curry Health Network instituted a change in policy in response to public frustration and perception of slow response times to the ER by the on-call physician. Now the highly qualified emergency physicians are on-site, 24/7.

In May of this year, the hospital brought on board Dr. Paul Tice as Emergency Room Medical Director. Dr. Tice, board certified in Emergency Medicine with 37 years experience, earned his medical degree from the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and completed an Internship at Swedish Medical Center in Seattle. In 2012, he was honored with both the Patients' Choice Award and Compassionate Doctor Recognition awards. Dr. Tice has initiated a new Peer Review program that ensures promotion of the highest quality of medical care as well as patient safety.

RN Will Chambers, the hospital's Surgical Services and Emergency Department Manager, says Dr. Tice has worked hard to refine their purpose, increased trauma education and improved trauma service, and promotes continual education of the staff.

"We're always ready to meet your emergency care needs," said Chambers, "and we're focusing on providing excellent care and patient satisfaction by reducing patient wait times, improving efficiency of care, and enhancing our patients' experience. We're running a better show."

"It isn't enough to just meet patient expectations of service - our goal is to exceed those expectations and under Dr. Tice's direction the emergency team is continuously working on improvements to care," said Andrew Bair, CEO of Curry Health Network.

Curry General Hospital's emergency department has earned a designation as a Level IV Trauma Center with 24-hour Trauma Surgeon availability. Trauma hospitals are distinguished from other facilities in that they have in-house or promptly available surgeons, anesthetists, physicians, nurses, lab and X-ray and other ancillary services, and resuscitation life-support equipment on a 24-hour-a-day basis, dedicated to the care of trauma patients.




September 6, 2013

Health District plans for new Gold Beach Hospital


GOLD BEACH, OR - When Curry Health District was established in 1983, the purpose of the District was expressed in six goals: Service - to grow services to match the various communities we serve: Quality - to meet or exceed all National Quality standards; Financial - to produce sustainable growth; People - to assure a positive experience for all who interact with Curry Health District; Facilities - to insure our facilities are safe, accessible, attractive and support our work; Growth - to expand services throughout Curry County.

It is exactly these six goals which the Board of Directors considered before voting - first on June 26 and again on August 28 - to move forward with placement of a $10 Million levy on the November 5th ballot to replace the 60-year old Curry General Hospital in Gold Beach, and to improve services at Curry Family Medical clinic in Port Orford.

"The hospital's current and deteriorating condition makes it difficult if not impossible to meet Medicare and state licensure standards," said Curry Health Network CEO, Andrew Bair. "Of other great concern is the fact that the facility can no longer be grand-fathered into old Oregon Fire Code." The hospital has requested a three-year waiver from the State Fire Marshall, but in 2016 they will be required to meet current fire code. "That will mean major reconstruction that might include building a fire wall right down the center of the hospital."

Board member Marlyn Schafer said "If we don't do this now, we won't have an emergency room or a hospital in 2016."

According to the District's CFO, Ken Landau, the current costs of repairs, maintenance, and loss of services already exceed the debt service of the proposed levy - for example, a recent two-month closure of the operating room was necessary for repair and replacement of the ceiling and resulted in more than $600,000 in lost revenue.

The levy would add 74 cents per $1,000 property valuation for members of the District, which is bounded in the north by Elk River north of Port Orford, south by Pistol River, and includes Agness. Only members of the District will have an opportunity to vote on this measure, and only District property owners will be affected by the levy.

"A replacement facility is estimated to cost $20 Million," said Landau, "and the remaining balance would come from Federal, State, and/or other sources. That remaining balance of $10 Million is not taxable," he said.

According to the District, a new facility will attract and retain quality providers and medical staff, improve efficiency with a modern and functional layout, increase the number of exam and treatment rooms, have larger and multiple operating rooms to accommodate today's technology, provide for seamless patient flow from clinics to outpatient departments, have single occupancy rooms allowing for privacy and infection prevention, and will include family-friendly OB rooms with state-of-the-art Obstetric facilities.

"Deciding how best to serve our community's healthcare needs today, and in the coming decades, was a complex decision," said Bair. "Investing in a modern facility to replace our aged and deteriorating facility to allow for expanded and enhanced services is the only way to keep pace with current and future health care demands, and to attract and retain quality providers and medical staff." According to the CEO, the Board did not take the decision lightly, and was mindful of the other tax measures on the ballot. "Each has valid reasons," Bair said. "Curry Health District supports whatever creates a revitalized community."

"We have compassionate and dedicated staff here at Curry General Hospital, and we want to provide a facility for the community that reflects the high quality of service we offer," said Bair.






August 27, 2013

You've got questions, We've got answers!

By Andrew Bair, CEO, Curry Health Network

What is this about a new hospital in Gold Beach?
Curry Health Network is looking to replace the Gold Beach, Curry General Hospital and improve the Port Orford Clinic by placing a tax of $10M on the November ballot. This $10M will allow for low interest matching loans to complete a new modern facility at the same site. Placement of the new hospital would allow continued healthcare at the existing facility during construction. Learn more about Ballot Measure 8-74 to replace Curry General Hospital and improve the Port Orford clinic.

What's changed in Gold Beach?
Over the last few years Curry General Hospital has improved our Emergency Care model. We currently have Board Certified physicians on our campus 24 hours a day for our Emergency room. This differs from the previous method of calling physicians from off campus to cover the emergency department. We feel our community gets the same high quality of care here as they would anywhere.

What's this about a Brookings Hospital?
Curry Health Network has agreed to complete a Certificate of Need to determine if Brookings can qualify for a new hospital. The Certificate of Need process takes about one year. If the Certificate of Need is approved by the Federal Government, Curry Health Network will ask the people of South Curry County how they will fund a Brookings hospital on the Curry Medical Center campus. We feel the Curry Medical Center (5th Street Clinic) already has much of the components of a hospital, so the project is half completed already.

Does Brookings really need a hospital?
On average, 2 to 4 ambulances a day are called to Curry Medical Center on 5th Street to transport a patient to an emergency room. In 2012, 79 people presented to the Curry Medical Center Urgent Care with chest pain. These citizens required transportation to the nearest ER - either Gold Beach or Crescent City - via ambulance. Numbers for 2013 are on track to eclipse last year's numbers. It is clear that emergency services are needed in Brookings. Current Oregon law requires a hospital status to support an emergency room. This means there must be inpatient beds.

When would we have these hospitals?
The Gold Beach hospital cannot be started until we receive money from the bond ballot measure. Without passing a bond measure, it would not be possible to access a low interest loan to fund the Gold Beach hospital project. We are ready as soon as we get that funding to start the 2 ½ to 4 year project of the new Curry General Hospital. The funding efforts for the Brookings hospital won't be explored until we know we have federal approval through the Certificate of Need process. This creates a longer timeline for any Brookings facility, if approved.

Can Curry County support two hospitals?
We believe two separate traditionally run hospitals would dilute the market, making it difficult to financially sustain either facility. However, a single entity running two campuses would be sustainable. One idea is to reduce the 22 bed hospital in Gold Beach to a 10-15 bed hospital. We believe reducing our bed capacity in Gold Beach would improve a case for a Brookings facility. Cost savings could be achieved through having one administration, one billing department, one IT department and so on. As a part of the Certificate of Need, a business model must be developed to demonstrate the need for such a venture.

What does Port Orford get out of any of this?
We feel the Southern Oregon coast would be attractive to many qualified physicians; however our Gold Beach facility is a barrier to recruitment. With a new hospital comes opportunity to recruit more specialty physicians. Port Orford would be put on a schedule for some of these specialists to rotate through the Curry Family Medical Clinic.

As we get an Orthopedic Surgeon and other specialists, the expectation would be that they rotate through Port Orford on a monthly basis. Learn more about other planned improvements.

What's happening with OB?
This spring Curry General Hospital made the difficult decision to temporarily suspend our OB service. One of the reasons was that our method of care at Curry was to use a small group of specialized nurses to provide care. When those nurse left through retirement or other reasons, they were difficult to replace. All of our nurses will now be going through a rural nurse certification course as well as OB nurses training, so when we bring our OB service back we will never have to close. In addition to the Nursing changes, after the beginning of 2014, we will welcome Dr. John Jackson who will play an integral part of the re-opening of the Labor and Delivery Service at Curry General Hospital. Dr. Jackson's specialties include Family Practice and Obstetrics.

How's the new hospitalist program going?
In early September hospitalists started seeing patients in Curry General Hospital. These physicians only practice medicine in the hospital, and our patients now have access to physicians 24-hours per day, seven days a week. While most hospitalists work 12-hour shifts, our hospitalists work seven to ten day shifts and live on our campus the entire time.

Because we're able to provide constant medical surveillance and care in the hospital, fewer people will leave our county for care.

Community physicians appreciate this program because it assures them that their clinic time will not be interrupted, which is also a value to their patients. It will also be a major recruiting tool as we seek new physicians to serve our community.

Do the Tax Payers in Gold Beach and Port Orford pay for Curry Medical Center in Brookings?
No. We received funding for the Curry Medical Center project by going to the public market through private investors. After all expenses were paid, the clinic added more than $700,000 to the District's bottom line last year. This has been of benefit to Curry General Hospital in Gold Beach.

What about a dialysis center?
We have felt there is a real need for a local Dialysis Center. We have been in contact with the two major national Dialysis companies, Fresenius and DaVita. Fresenius has indicated they are not currently interested in this area. We are yet awaiting DaVita. In addition we will be looking at hospital based models. We feel strongly that if this vital service is feasible, then it is in our charge to provide dialysis.






August 27, 2013

Letter from Curry Health Network CEO Andrew P. Bair

to James Auborn, Mayor; City of Port Orford

Dear Mayor Auborn,

Thank you for your time spent sharing your views regarding healthcare services in North Curry County and the upcoming ballot. I very much appreciated the cordial tone of the meeting.

I understand that the District Board's decision to move forward with the bond levy on the November ballot must be very disappointing to you and the Port Orford City Council, but I know you understand the complexity of the issue and must also be aware that this decision was not taken without thorough and comprehensive consideration of all factors.

One of those factors was our conversation last week. There was extensive discussion on the very points you made in the letter addressed to me in last week's newspaper.

There are myriad additional aspects to this decision. Curry General Hospital has improved its services by adding Emergency Room physicians that are on campus 24 hours a day. In September we will be adding hospitalist services that will provide for the immediate needs of our inpatients. Even with these improvements of service, we are at risk because it is becoming increasingly more difficult to comply with modern state structural codes for hospitals. We feel it is time to move to a new facility without delay. Hesitation will only serve to increase cost of maintaining our aged facility while postponing our ability to recruit the services we need to provide for the community.

When interviewing to bring new specialty physicians to the community, we are not taken seriously. In competition with hospitals throughout the nation for limited qualified medical staff - even though some are intrigued by the natural beauty of the area, they are repelled by our older hospital.

I have been confronted with several myths regarding Curry Health Network since my arrival in November. One prevalent myth is that Curry Medical Center in Brookings is operated by tax funds of the Healthcare District taxpayers in Gold beach and Port Orford. The Curry Medical Center in Brookings was funded through the public market rather than tax dollars. The clinic in Brookings contributed over $700,000 to the District after paying for the expenses of running that facility. It is not well known, however, that taxes collected from Port Orford taxpayers just about cover the operational expenses of Curry Family Medical in Port Orford - yet we plan on improving our services with the addition of specialty care.

When we receive the new tax revenue from the District voters of Port Orford and Gold Beach, all of those dollars will be put to use within the District, with the sole purpose of serving Port Orford and Gold Beach. We will be in position to access a low interest loan to, at a minimum, match our $10M bond. None of this money will go to Brookings.

We have agreed to go through a year-long process of Certificate of Need for Brookings to determine if the federal government will allow a hospital facility in Brookings. We should have a conclusion to that process in about 12 months. We see this as an entirely unrelated issue.

Our Board believes there is good reason to allow the voters to make this decision. After considerable thought and discussion, the Board felt we had no choice but to move forward. There are several tax measures on the ballot; each has valid reasons. Curry Health District supports whatever creates a revitalized community. This must not become an open debate whether we need healthcare or law enforcement. It is clear we need both, and there is a cost.

Most Sincerely,
Andrew P. Bair, CEO
Curry Health Network



August 23, 2013

Hospital hears plans for replacement


The Neenan Achistructure Co. will present next week its plans to help Curry Health Network - from start to finish - with its hoped-for Gold Beach Hospital replacement and determine the need for an emergency room in its Brookings clinic.

The health district plans to put on the Nov. 5 ballot a measure asking for a $10 million general obligation bond to replace the new [Correction: existing] hospital in Gold Beach. If approved, voters would see a property tax increase of 76 cents [Correction: 74 cents] per $1,000 assessed valuation over a period of 30 years. And the $10 million would assist to secure federal funds to replace the aged building, said health district CEO Andrew Bair.

Revenue generated from the tax would only be spent on the Gold Beach hospital and to make improvements to its Port Orford clinic, Bair stated. Any improvements made to the facility in Brookings - notably establishing an emergency room and obtaining licensure for hospital beds - is a separate issue that will likely take a year to obtain federal approval.

"This group is expert in taking care of this," Bair said. "They do everything from developing business models and demonstrating need, walk you through certificates of need, and from there, their architectural firm coordinates everything from beginning to end."

The Fort Collins, Colo.-based firm creates business models, develops feasibility studies and guides hospital and commercial building officials through the complexities of "budgets, brainstorming and builds," according to their website.

Any proposed idea would go out to bid.

"This would add layers to our administrative time," Bair said. "We're going to go forward with someone. But this group has done this dozens and dozens of times. They come highly recommended."

The proposal


The Neenan Company, in conjunction with Portland Maine-based healthcare consulting firm Stroudwater Associates and the Dougherty Mortgage, proposes to lead multiple-day investigative and educational planning sessions with hospital board members, staff and community leaders to develop ways to increase market share, expand the network's medical services, identify financing methods and sources and improve long-term financial performance.

According to its proposal, it will gather information regarding population, resident age, incomes, insurance status and what hospital services are needed within the community. Eventually, the firm would conceive of a conceptual site plan of a new hospital in Gold Beach, its costs and construction timelines and outline plans for improvements needed at the Port Orford clinic.

The study is estimated to cost about $100,000, and money has been put aside over the years for it, Bair said.

"It's big money," he said. "But that's the cost of full-time experts going through the application of a certificate of need."

While studies are conducted, the Neenan Company proposes to forge ahead with Brookings' certificate of need, as well, as that process is likely to take about a year.

"But we can't build a Brookings facility until the federal government says that's OK," Bair said. "We need to move forward with it even before know the outcome of the certificate of need. We feel strongly that the federal government will allow us to add beds there, but we're being cautious."

Gold Beach's hospital


The hospital board last week reiterated its stance that, without a hospital, a community cannot fare well - particularly in an isolated region like Curry County where so many residents are older and have specific medical needs.

The current facility in Gold Beach has various shortcomings, ranging from crumbling parts of the structure, a weak roof and a layout that's not conducive to patient privacy. Many of these issues Bair has tried to tackle since he was hired last spring.

"It is certain this facility is tired and cannot survive another decade; it's pretty worn," he said in June. "And when I got to town, we found the annex to be more worn out than the hospital."

His first goal was to update the hospital district's strategic plan, from which all other plans are derived. Other goals include attracting physicians to the Gold Beach facility and clinic in Port Orford, obtaining prestigious certifications, and getting sleep study, IV therapy and chemotherapy and dialysis centers operating.

Securing physicians is made more difficult when the prospective hires see the physical condition of the hospital.

"Obstetricians, an orthopedic surgeon, a pediatrician, an internal medicine specialist - these are the things you expect when you come to a community the size of Curry County," Bair said in June. "You expect to find those things and they're strangely absent. What kind of red carpet do we roll out to our physician recruits when they come to town?"

He's also walking the fine line of politics, notably involving the possibility of getting Brookings to join the hospital district. The district runs from Sixes River north of Port Orford south to Pistol River and east to the county line.

Patients from Brookings provide more than 60 percent of the district's revenue, Bair said, so they're not an unimportant group. But others who pay taxes into the district don't like that residents at the south end of the town benefit from a clinic and access to the Gold Beach hospital without being part of the network.

That debate will wait, he said, until they get the hospital replaced, the Port Orford clinic refurbished and new physicians are brought into the network.

"There's going to be a lot of activity over the next few months," Bair said. "We'll just see where it takes us."

Article courtesy of the Curry Coastal Pilot



August 20, 2013

Bond to build new hospital on ballot

Please note corrections in below article, within [ ].

The Curry Health Network board voted unanimously [Correction: vote was 3 aye, 1 nay, 1 abstaining] Monday afternoon to place on the November ballot a measure asking voters in the district for a $10 million bond to build a new hospital in Gold Beach and make improvements to its facilities in Port Orford.

The measure would result in a property tax increase of 76 cents [Correction: 74 cents] per $1,000 assessed valuation over a period of 20 [correction: 30] years. The district generally extends from Pistol River north to Elk River and east to Agness.

The decision came after about an hour of discussion regarding the chances of the measure's success, as there will be competing property tax questions on this fall's ballot.

"Without a hospital, we will lose the retirement people," said finance committee member Brian [Correction: Bryan] Grummon. "We will lose the young people. The keystone function in a community is having a hospital."

The hospital board needs the money to replace a building that doesn't meet code - and hasn't for years, if not decades. Additionally, it would like to make improvements at its Port Orford clinic.

The bond would be used to secure a matching, low-interest loan from the federal government.

"Our plan is to replace the facility - period," said CEO Andrew Bair. "We got the strategic plan done in the past five months, and part of that strategic plan is to replace the facility for this campus."

He said the effort to get the measure on the ballot is not rushed as it might seem, as past boards have argued its merits for about 15 years. Additionally, he has received confirmation from county planning officials that a new building built at the same location would be safe from a tsunami.

Competition

Two other ballot measures will be competing with the hospital's question in November. And County Commissioner David Brock Smith has oft noted that the more tax questions a voter faces, the more likely they are to vote against all of them.

Curry County commissioners will put on the Nov. 5 ballot a measure asking all county residents for a property tax increase of $1.35 per $1,000 assessed valuation to fund public safety. The current county tax rate is 59 cents, the second-lowest in the state. Without an increase, county officials say, the county will be out of funds next spring and likely have to rely on the state - funded by a tax on those who have a taxable income - to take over critical operations.

The City of Port Orford plans to ask its voters to renew the tax - and then some - that pays for its police services, to $1.90 per $1,000 assessed valuation. The current five-year assessment sunsets next year.

Something, the hospital board members agreed, will have to give.

"The people in Port Orford aren't going to vote for $1.90 and $1.35," said board member Marlyn Schafer during discussions on the advantages of a November or May 2014 ballot question. "I don't like to be held hostage by other taxing districts. If none pass, they'll all be back in May."

The 60-year-old hospital is crumbling and is one winter storm away from losing a roof or other major component, Bair said. Its poor condition has also deterred efforts to attract new doctors to the area.

"We cannot afford to keep throwing money into lost causes," Grummon said. "I feel bad it's turned into a confrontation between other county functions trying to raise money, but we don't have a choice. We have to have a hospital. Otherwise, we won't have a community. We won't have anything."

He encouraged the board to consider pursuing smaller loans or grants more amenable to tax-averse voters to pay for the replacement of the hospital in stages.

The board enthusiastically agreed it shouldn't be a problem to pay back the bond - possibly even earlier than expected - and turn a profit with a new facility.

"With a new hospital, we'll get more doctors - which we definitely need," Schaefer said. "To me, it's a no-brainer. We absolutely have to do this."

"There is no reason we can't make the cash to service our debt," Grummon said. "If we don't address this, we'll have catastrophic things happen (to the building)."

Port Orford

Another hurdle the health network faces is how to gain the support of residents in Port Orford who have said they don't trust the board.

The last time a hospital bond went to the vote, in 1998, only 33 percent of voters Port Orford cast votes in its favor. And that was in good economic times.

"We certainly have lost a bit of relational capital with the people of Port Orford," Bair admitted. "This is the environment in which we work - an environment we, in part, created. We have made business decisions with Port Orford that have hurt our relationship."

One of those involved a woman suffering from abdominal pain. In the three days she had to wait to see a physician, her appendix burst. Patient numbers there have gone from "somewhere in the 30s to the teens," Bair said.

It's a challenge many businesses face, said Grummon, who has experience in management and employee relations.

"You talk to employees [Inaccurate: statement was regarding Port Orford residents], and they've been lied to by management in the past; they have zero trust," Grummon said. "No amount of talking is going to convince them otherwise.

You have to start walking the walk. You don't say anything you can't follow up on or intend to do. No lying, cheating or stealing. Listen to them, understand them. You can't make a plan down here (Gold Beach) and go up there. They have to have an active role in any decisions."

The district, under Bair's leadership, has provided the city with a nurse practitioner who is on call 24 hours a day and an emergency room staff. [Inaccurate: the Board discussed this as a service for possible future implementation.]

"In every small town, every mistake you make and every mistake they think you make, you're accountable," said board chair John Spicer.

Brookings' part

Another bone of contention is that the hospital district does not include Brookings - whose residents therefore don't pay taxes toward the district - but the hospital network has built on Fifth Street an urgent care facility to accommodate patients who provide 60 percent of the district's revenue, Bair said.

Based on assessed values of properties, if Brookings were to join the district, the proposed hospital district tax could be lowered to 24 cents per $1,000 over a 20-year period, noted Chief Operations Officer Ken Landau. [Inaccurate - this unverified number was on a document provided by Commissioner Smith and was erroneously attributed to CFO/COO Landau.]

Talks regarding splitting the Gold Beach hospital's 25-bed license [CHD is licensed for 24 beds] to provide for two campuses are separate issues - and a needs assessment for an emergency room and hospital beds in Brookings will take about a year, Bair said.

"What I'm hearing (in the community) is that people don't want to spend a dime in Brookings until we deal with the hospital here," Bair said.

"They're motivated to have a hospital," said board member Gary Anderson. "We need to make an offer to Brookings to join our district, form one of their own or have a bake sale. In Port Orford, they don't like supporting a district they don't use that much when Brookings has one that is used, but they don't pay into the tax base."

The group said they realize educating the public is going to be key in the months leading to the ballot.

"We could lose," said board member Deb Wilson, via conference call. "But it puts the word out to people; it educates people. We're going to upset people no matter where we're at, what we do."

Yet the board seemed to think their measure might stand a better chance than others the voters will face in November.

"We're trying to revitalize the whole community," Landau said. "Throughout the country, health care and jobs trump everything. That's what we're offering."

Article courtesy of the Curry Coastal Pilot



July 27, 2013

Building a hospital, ER possible in Brookings


Brookings could soon be home to an emergency room and hospital, due to a loophole found in Oregon law prohibiting two hospitals from being within 30 miles of one another.

Mayor Ron Hedenskog announced the news to county commissioners during their work session Tuesday. It comes after discussions he had with Curry Health Network executive director Andrew Bair, who has been working on health care access concerns of residents in the south end of the county.

"I said years ago we need a hospital in Brookings, and I got chided by the city leaders when I brought this up," Hedenskog said. "I said I'd never bring it up again. Well, those leaders are gone, so I'm bringing it up again."

State law says two hospitals cannot operate within a 30-mile radius of each other. But the sentence continues to read, "or 15 miles in mountainous regions."

Hospital officials believe Curry Health Network just might meet that criteria.

Brookings is halfway - about 25 miles - between Curry General Hospital in Gold Beach to the north and Sutter Coast Hospital in Crescent City to the south.

And if that doesn't pass muster, health district officials have learned that Curry General Hospital can divide its 24-bed hospital and ER into two campuses under the terms of its state certification.

Hedenskog assured county commissioners that the needs of residents at the northern end of the county would not be abandoned just because Brookings has the largest population base in the county. Also, the proposed $10 million general obligation bond Curry Health Network officials is pursuing will only go toward construction of a new hospital in Gold Beach, he said.

"Andrew Bair said Curry Health Network is ready to (elevate the status of) this facility (Curry Medical Center) to an emergency room and some hospital beds," Hedenskog said. "He said the state will allow splitting the facility, making two campuses out of it. That's good news for us."

Incentives

Monday, the Brookings City Council voted to reduce the percentage rate - from 9 percent to 6 percent - on a loan the health district has with the city when it built the Fifth Street urgent care facility. The health district owes about $500,000 in System Development Charges, fees charged for sewer and water infrastructure to new development.

"Hospitals don't discharge ordinary household waste," Hedenskog said, adding that SDC numbers are calculated using national standards. "We don't just pluck these numbers out of the air."

The original percentage rate was so high because city officials try to discourage developers from borrowing from the city, and instead urge them to pursue loans from the private sector, which offers lower borrowing rates.

Former CEO Bill McMillan asked the Brookings City Council years ago for a break in those interest rates and was flatly denied.

The decreased loan rate, Hedenskog said, is a "goodwill gesture," and hopefully will encourage hospital officials to continue with their plans for Brookings.

Another incentive city councilors might consider is using Urban Renewal Agency funds to pay for future SCDs if hospital officials pursue the idea by, say, obtaining a building permit for an emergency room.

Additionally, the city could work with the county to extend the Brookings Airport runway to accommodate Medivac planes. New commercial development there could not only help out the health district's bottom line, but help pay for the runway extension.

"The city and county need to come to an agreement about the management of the airport," Hedenskog said later this week. "We need to secure a cooperative agreement to make improvements to the airport."

Commissioner David Itzen said Cal-Ore Life Flight owner Dan Brattain can fly his medical airplane out of Brookings Airport 66 percent of the time. But a longer runway - Brookings' is 2,880 feet long and needs to be at least 3,000 feet long - could accommodate larger planes in adverse weather.

That improved situation would also make the county - the airport's owner - eligible for Federal Aviation Administration grants for further improvements.

Patients aren't flying anywhere, however, without either a hospital or emergency room, as they can only be transported to a larger medical facility after a doctor ensures they are stable enough to fly and then releases them to the care of the aircraft's medical personnel.

Controversy

The idea doesn't come without a few complications, however.

"What about (Brookings) being in the (health) district," Commissioner Susan Brown queried.

"We have not been invited," Hedenskog replied. "It probably wouldn't happen without an invitation - and it probably wouldn't happen without controversy."

Brookings is not in the Curry Health Network district, which extends from the north end of the county to just south of Pistol River. Brookings was never included.

"Gold Beach was a big city back then," Hedenskog said. "Brookings was a one-dog town. And Harbor didn't even exist."

Animosities still simmer, he added.

"There were probably some reasons why Curry Health Network doesn't want us in, and there are probably some reasons why the south end wouldn't want to be in," Hedenskog said.

Commissioner David Brock Smith pointed out that north county residents sometimes resent that Brookings residents don't pay taxes toward the district, yet benefit from having the clinic in town.

Hedenskog said that Brookings' leaders have no intention of "taking away" health facility access from Gold Beach area, and any contract negotiated to build an ER and hospital campus in Brookings would reflect that.

As it is, Curry Health Network receives the bulk of its revenue from Brookings residents - and a good portion of those also travel to Crescent City for health care. A hospital in town could give the district and city an added economic boost.

Hedenskog joked that he is encouraged, however, because he asked his wife if she'd be willing to pay, say 35 cents per $1,000 assessed valuation to be included in the health district and she replied in the affirmative. "There's my sounding board right there," he said.

Actual tax costs are currently 74 cents per $1,000 valuation, but it's possible that with a larger population in the pool, that rate could be decreased.

The timing couldn't be better, either, Itzen noted.

Sutter Coast Hospital is in the midst of contentious reorganization plans and could end up reducing its scope to comprise 24 hospital beds and limited emergency room hours as a critical care facility - a designation usually reserved for smaller hospitals in rural areas. That hospital is required to maintain six hospital beds for Pelican Bay Prison inmates and two for obstetrics.

Doctors and hospital officials are aggressively fighting the reorganization and redesignation.

"That's a tremendous decrease for that area," Hedenskog said. "If you're in Brookings or Harbor and in dire need of a hospital at 2, 3 in the morning, good luck. It's 30 miles to the north, 30 miles to the south. There's nothing in Brookings."

Hedenskog hopes to hold a medical "summit" involving all involved, including officials from the cities, county, health district and Cal-Ore Life Flight in upcoming months.

Article courtesy of the Curry Coastal Pilot



July 9, 2013

District sends $10 million hospital bond to the voters


Curry Health Network will ask voters in its district this November to approve a $10 million general obligation bond to pay for a new hospital.

The exact location of a new facility has yet to be determined, officials said. [Omission:, although it will be on the Gold Beach campus.]

If the bond question is approved, the district will be eligible for a matching, low-interest USDA loan - and hopes to open the doors to a new facility in four to five years.

A $10 million, 30-year general obligation bond would cost property owners in the district 74 cents per $1,000 in assessed valuation, said Director Andrew Bair. Additionally, each tax-paying property owner in the district would receive a $150 voucher each year for five years good for services in the network.

"We're trying to get creative and cushion the blow," Bair said. "The general obligation bond is only half of it. This is a big deal. We have a lot of work to do."

For starters, the $20 million figure is a rough estimate, Bair said. But it's comparable to costs of similar facilities built throughout the United States.

The need to replace the hospital is apparent: the 60-year-old facility is small, not patient-friendly and lacks some medical amenities a new one would feature.

Among the details to be worked out include whether a new facility can be built at the same location, as most of Ellensburg Avenue lies in the tsunami inundation zone. Curry General Hospital is located almost a block off the highway on Fourth Street.

"There's lots of people who say it can't be built (on its current site)," Bair said. "But we think we can. If the Cascadia tsunami hits, we've got more issues than the location of a hospital. There's a lot of anxiety around that, but if you take the effect of the 'Big One,' it pretty much decimates everything."

Regardless of location, officials also have to determine need - both current and future - of the services offered, and not just for patients. Bair noted that the physical state of the hospital is critical to attracting new physicians to the area, as well.

"People come here for an interview, and they come into the existing facility and are disappointed with what we have to work with," he said. "It's critical for attracting the kind of health care providers we need. We have several retiring in the next five to 10 years; we need to attract others to carry on."

Without a new facility, Bair isn't sure about the future of medical services in the area.

"Then we really have to think about what we're going to do here as far as having an emergency room and inpatient services," he said. "It's time. It's essential for the economics of this town to have a good facility."

He said he realized asking voters for a property tax increase at a time when the nation's economic outlook is creeping along at a snail's pace - and when the county itself might ask again for a property tax increase for public safety services - will be a challenge.

"You hate to put people on that spot," he said. "We have to help them prioritize, talk about what an obligation bond looks like, how not having one might be an impediment. We've got to take a look at this. We can't go forward building a new hospital without any idea of funding."

Bair said hospital officials plan to meet with county commissioners about coordinating a possible general obligation bond question and the timing of other possible ballot issues.

"Everybody's got their hand out," he said. "We're asking for people to tax themselves like they haven't before."

Bair said the community is lucky to have had the old wooden hospital last this long.

"It's a ... different kind of place. But it's lasted about as long as it can. It could last another half-decade, but after that, all bets are off. The clock's ticking on this building."

Article courtesy of the Curry Coastal Pilot



June 7, 2013

CEO has big plans for Curry General Hospital


Curry Health Network CEO Andrew Bair is trying to make his dreams into reality.

They include attracting physicians to its hospital in Gold Beach and clinics in Port Orford and Brookings, obtaining prestigious certifications, getting a sleep study center, IV therapy unit and chemotherapy unit - and the much-clamored-for dialysis center.

He plans to speak to a group of local dialysis patients this weekend about their frustrations in obtaining treatment, which include long drives to other counties to do so. A small but vocal group is aggravated by alleged promises by past directors at the health network to bring such services to the area, and it hopes Bair will be their savior.

In the district's new strategic plan, Bair would ideally like to have a dialysis center open somewhere in the county by June 2014.

He said the new plan was needed to guide future operations of the health network.

"It gives us direction," he said. "We're excited about having true direction. With each goal is a subset of action items and the people on the executive team are being held accountable for getting it done."

Dialysis center officials in Medford have said they need at least 25 patients to make a center financially feasible for them.

"The chatter is that we have a population of dialysis patients in Brookings, and not too far across the California border is a mirror group of people," Bair said. "It may be a community big enough to support this service."

As a registered nurse, he understands their plight.

"They live from appointment to appointment," Bair said. "They travel a treacherous, winding road of 100 miles plus - that's awful. You might expect that if you live in the middle of nowhere, and I don't know that we are. I'd be excited to bring that service here. It's going to take a group effort, but I hope and pray that something can happen."

He has no idea where a chemo or dialysis center would be located - except that it has to be closer than Medford, Coos Bay or Eureka.

Article courtesy of the Curry Coastal Pilot