Bond to be updated for 2019 election

Board of commission will decide on tax resolution July 3



GABRIEL BRAVO, Evergreen reporter

Pullman Regional Hospital board members held a meeting Friday and discussed the possibility of bringing back a bond to help fund hospital upgrades after it failed to pass in the April 23 special election ballot.

“The Next Era of Excellence” would have raised $29 million through a community bond and $11 million through philanthropy efforts for an updated electronic medical record system, renovations to the hospital building, latest medical equipment and the addition of a 45,000-square-foot facility to house offices and medical rooms.

Jeff Elbracht, PRH board of commissioners vice president, said there was a definite appetite for the project. Board members, however, discussed how a large portion of WSU student voters failed to return their ballots.

Within Whitman County, about 9,000 people voted in the November general election. The special election required 40 percent of the general election turnout for it to have been valid, but fewer than 40 percent voted. Of people who voted, 63 percent voted in favor of the bond.

Karen Geheb, PRH director of hospitalist services, said the bond would have helped the hospital accommodate the growing community’s medical needs. She said a $40 million investment in the hospital is a reasonable proposal.

“[$40 million] in of itself is not even that big of an ask for a regional hospital setting where we have an excellent community of residents who expect a certain quality of care,” Gaheb said. “We already have a backlog of access to high-quality care and just basic services of care.”

From 2010-2018, Pullman’s population has increased from by about 14 percent from roughly 29,800 to just over 34,000 residents.

Geheb also mentioned the advantages of having an updated electronic medical records system. This electronic medical records system would allow quick and easy access to medical records for physicians across the state, according to the PRH website.

“If you’re doing your winter celebration in Arizona and you get really sick and you have placed your advanced directive, the doctor in Arizona doesn’t have to call the PRH health record system,” Geheb said.

Having medical records saved in the system it would make a doctor’s visit more streamlined, Geheb said.

Tricia Grantham, president of PRH board of commissioners, said the board will decide what to do with the proposed bond during their July 3 meeting.

“We are authorizing the development of a ballot resolution,” she said. “Specifically the ballot resolution would place an [Unlimited Tax Issue General Obligation] bond proposal on the ballot for November 5 2019 general election in the amount of $29 million.”