Local hospital to seek public input before expanding its district

PRH Foundation raised $662,000 for COVID-19 fund; officials to start conversation about hospital policy regarding vaccines

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GRACE JOO | DAILY EVERGREEN FILE

Rueben Mayes, Pullman Regional Hospital chief development officer, said the COVID-19 fund started March 24 to help pay for the hospital’s equipment, operations and supplies.

LOREN NEGRON, Evergreen reporter

Pullman Regional Hospital has put on pause the consideration of enlarging its tax base by expanding its district boundaries. 

PRH Board of Commissioners voted Wednesday evening to accept the strategic planning committee’s recommendation of engaging in a public involvement process before deciding on the expansion plan.

“After several meetings of consideration, the committee chose to bring a recommendation to the Board of Commissioners tonight … rather than try and move forward … the committee and the board take a pause,” said PRH CEO Scott Adams.

The committee recommended a process that includes holding public hearings and examining proposed resolutions, Adams said. The process will also involve “developing a legal description of a possible annexation.”

He said the plan is to work through the steps of the process so the hospital can arrive at a conclusion in spring 2021. The hospital’s expansion could be included in the fall 2021 voting ballot.

Questions concerning the district’s boundaries have become an important discussion for the committee and board when the hospital failed to pass a bond last fall that would have expanded PRH’s services and spaces, Adams said.

Despite this failed attempt, the PRH Foundation has raised more than $4.5 million. Rueben Mayes, PRH chief development officer, said the money will fund electronic medical records and a residency program. 

In addition to those funds, the PRH Foundation raised $662,000. Steve Febus, PRH chief financial officer, said the money is for the hospital’s COVID-19 fund. 

Mayes said the COVID-19 fund started March 24 to help pay for the hospital’s equipment, operations and supplies. The hospital plans to continue to market its fund for the entire year.

“We’ve taken in a significant amount of cash due to COVID-19 fundraising efforts,” Mayes said. “The community has really been philanthropic and generous.”

The hospital also received about $5.8 million from the CARES Act, Febus said.

Because of the pandemic, board member Michael Murphy said a conversation about hospital policy must begin when a vaccine for COVID-19 becomes available. 

Jeannie Eylar, PRH chief clinical officer, said several people have started a conversation about the hospital’s immunization policy, but not specifically about COVID-19.

“I think that is a really important conversation for us to start now, and not wait so that we kind of are already thinking about the pros and cons of all these perspectives,” Eylar said.

The hospital has not yet determined whether or not its annual Health Innovation Summit will happen this year due to coronavirus concerns. Adams said the event will be virtual if the hospital decides to have a summit this year.

The Board of Commissioners’ next meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. July 1 at PRH. It will be open to the public.