Care providers clash at hearing on proposed hospice center

By Paris Achen, Columbian courts reporter

Published:

 

A public hearing Tuesday on granting a certificate of need for what would be Clark County's second inpatient hospice center drew a crowd of 100, mostly employees of two hospice providers at odds over the need for the proposed facility.

The hearing focused on whether there is enough demand for inpatient hospice care to justify the construction of a 15-bed inpatient hospice center at 3100 NE 136th Circle in Salmon Creek. The project is proposed by Community Home Health & Hospice.

CHHH claims that its existing client base will fill the beds.

PeaceHealth Southwest, owner of Ray Hickey Hospice House, now the county's only hospice center, opposes the project because it claims the second facility isn't needed. Ray Hickey has 20 beds at 2112 E. Mill Plain Blvd. in the Central Park neighborhood near Clark College. A second center could cause the financial ruin of both hospice centers given lack of demand for inpatient services, PeaceHealth Southwest administrators said.

Some speakers from the health industry and Clark County residents said palliative care is trending toward at-home care. That will slow or decrease demand for inpatient services despite the burgeoning senior population.

Sonjia Hauser, Ray Hickey clinical manager, said there is room for CHHH clients at the existing facility. (Ray Hickey and CHHH have a contract in which Ray Hickey provides hospice beds to CHHH on a space-available basis.)

The hospice center was full just three days out of 365 in 2010, Hauser said.

Greg Pang, CEO of CHHH, said CHHH has been denied beds at Ray Hickey when clients needed them.

Analyst Karen Nidermayer with the state Department of Health took 30 comments and 32 questions from attendees during the hearing.

The health department will make a decision April 23. It will accept public comments via email until 5 p.m. Tuesday at karen.nidermayer@doh.wa.gov.

Read Wednesday's edition of The Columbian to find out more about the project and arguments for and against it.