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Hospital controversy may settle down

CEO offered Brewster position

 


A corner was likely turned this week in the months-long hospital controversy that saw Coulee Medical Center’s healthcare providers and other employees pitted against administration.

Public Hospital District 6 commissioners Friday afternoon accepted the resignation of Commissioner Greg Behrens, who had sought to quell the troubled waters around Chief Executive Officer J. Scott Graham, whose ouster was demanded by doctors and many patrons.

Tuesday, commissioners of the hospital district in Brewster unanimously voted to offer Graham the top administrator position at Three Rivers Hospital.

Graham was one of two finalists for the job, the Omak-Okanogan County Chronicle reported on its website Tuesday afternoon, following a morning of public interviews and executive sessions.

The Brewster hospital board will begin contract negotiations with Graham after April 3, the Chronicle reported.

“The board stands united that Scott Graham is the best candidate to fill the CEO position at Three Rivers Hospital,” Chairwoman Vicki Orford said. “We are basing this on extensive research, skill sets, best fit, interviews and previous employers.”

Two weeks earlier, the Grand Coulee hospital’s commissioners had ordered an investigation into whether they had grounds to fire Graham for cause.

The other leading candidate for the Brewster job was from California.

“I actually think he’s a good match for them,” CMC commission President Jerry Kennedy said Tuesday. “Scott’s capable — no doubt.”

Graham knows Washington hospital law, Kennedy said, and he has “learned a lot about rural hospitals.”

Graham was elected president of the Association of Washington Public Hospital Districts last October, even as controversies at CMC were heating up, filling normally quiet commission meetings with angry citizens.

Healthcare providers voted no confidence in him last fall, rejecting a new pay plan and demanding his ouster. Two of them eventually resigned, or cut back their activities at CMC. Nurses and other employees joined a union.

At a CMC commission meeting March 10, anyone trying to speak up for Graham suffered laughter and jeers from a hostile crowd demanding a change.

Change will now come, apparently, and commissioners for Douglas, Grant, Lincoln, Okanogan Counties Hospital District 6 will need to search for a new CEO.

Calls to administration at both CMC and Three Rivers had not been returned by deadline Tuesday, nor had a call to Orford.

[This story was edited to correct Graham's title, which is chief executive officer.]

 

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