Jeff Elbracht was elected president of the Pullman Regional Hospital Board of Commissioners in January. As an elected official, Jeff has served on the board since 2006. This is his first year as president.
What are you looking forward to as president of the Board of Commissioners?
I am looking forward to continue to work with my fellow commissioners and the hospital staff to provide superior medical service to this community. Pullman is fortunate to have great physicians, a great hospital, and overall quality staff and services. I appreciate being part of a team that can contribute to helping maintain and further improve the health of our community.
Do you have a particular vision or priority for the board?
Despite the recent unsuccessful bond referendums, the community has shown that the Next Era of Excellence is a priority. The community survey completed prior to the elections demonstrated support, and election results of over 63% and 59% show that the community believes in the concepts from the Next Era. I believe the board now needs to determine how to support the community's desire for the Next Era of Excellence. For instance, we are trying to find space within the hospital to house a Family Medicine Residency Program funded by philanthropy.
What are the biggest challenges the Board is facing?
Medicine in the U.S. is changing quickly and is greatly impacted by the federal government. As a rural hospital it is critical for us to continue to be proactive in determining our future while being responsive to the changes on the national level.
Why did you run for the Board?
When I moved to Pullman, I thought I would probably only be here for a couple years while I completed graduate school. I have now lived here for more than 22 years. Pullman is a tremendous community and I feel the hospital is a critical piece of making this a great community. Serving on the board is a chance for me to give back to the community and help ensure it remains the great place where I have chosen to live and raise a family.
Is there something you particularly want the public to know about the Board and/or Pullman Regional Hospital?
We are a public hospital district and a publicly elected board. While not uncommon, this is different than many hospitals that are private and designed to provide profit to shareholders. As a non-profit, community-supported hospital, we are here to serve the community as best we can.
Tricia Grantham stepped down as president of the Pullman Regional Hospital Board of Commissioners in January after serving in this role since 2008. She will continue to serve on the Board as vice president in 2020. We got a chance to ask her some questions about providing 12 years of leadership on the seven-member elected board.
What were the highlights of your presidency?
I really enjoyed working with this group of commissioners. There is a lot of respect for each other and one another’s opinions. Our board’s cohesiveness and the longevity of the hospital’s leadership provide stability to the hospital and the community. I’ve learned so much as president and the board is very informed. I was on the periphery of healthcare when I worked as a social worker but now I have learned more about the operations and what it takes to manage a critical access hospital. We are fortunate to have this level of care in the community and we are working to make sure access to the same level of services remains.
What are the challenges you faced during your presidency?
The decision to grant privileges to perform transgender below the waist surgeries was difficult because there were strong feelings on both sides, from the public, staff, and physicians.
The other challenge speaks to physician retention. The ability to financially support our clinic network and keeping access to primary care and specialty medicine under a new model is an ever-present concern.
More and more physicians do not want to practice independently and want the security of an employment model or they will go somewhere else to practice. We’ve made a strategic decision as part of our mission to provide care locally. When practices come to us for support, our choice is to purchase them or risk losing access to medical care in the community. It’s becoming increasingly hard to sustain this model while maintaining the hospital and preparing for the future needs of healthcare for the community. That’s why we need a partnership and commitment by the community to support our publicly owned hospital.
This hospital is resilient. Through continuing partnerships with other hospitals in the area and the community, we will work to achieve our vision to be a self-sustaining, independent hospital.