There have been a lot of concerns recently about changes at Mid-Columbia Medical Center. Last week, MCMC’s President and CEO, Dennis Knox, gave an interview to Gorge Country Media, in which he spoke to some of those concerns.
One thing he did say, was that the decision to end the cardiology partnership with Oregon Health Sciences University did not come from MCMC:
“OHSU came to me and said, ‘We can no longer field a team. Two out of four of our cardiologists are looking to change their practice.”
One of those cardiologists, he said, was Dr. Matt LaBarbera. He and his wife, Dr. Jaqueline LaBarbera, a pediatrician, left to be closer to family in New York. Knox said another physician was pregnant, and didn’t have any immediate family around here when she gave birth, so she went back to Chicago.
Others have felt heavy strain due to an unusual circumstance:
“We did have a number of providers out on FMLA mid last year. It was very stressful.”
FMLA is the Family Medical Leave Act, which allows for leaves of up to six months. He said five providers were out, putting extra burden on the remaining staffs to take on the additional patient load.
He also spoke about the proposal to build a new hospital at the Kramer Fields site, which would also involve creation of a new sports complex on land Google has donated to Wasco County. As far as the current campus, it would mean:
“Repurposing our current campus for affordable housing.”
And we asked him, since he had specifically ruled out asking for the public to support a bond issue, where the money was going to come from for the new facility. Knox said the hospital would get a loan:
“We’re going to finance the capitalization of that – HUD or maybe USDA. We can solidly proceed as an independent like we have been. If we had a partnership, we can do even more.”
We should note that the original plans presented recently to Wasco County show the potential new hospital complex would include a 15-bed psychiatric ward, something that is desperately needed in Eastern Oregon. How soon all of this could happen is still up in the air.