Donations coming in for Olympic Medical Center aquatic program, pool; fundraiser set Saturday in Port Angeles
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Sandy Smith, an administrative assistant at Olympic Medical Center, checks the temperature of the therapy pool Monday. The floor of the pool is adjustable, according to the needs of the patient. — Arwyn Rice/Peninsula Daily News

By Paul Gottlieb
Peninsula Daily News

PORT ANGELES — Olympic Medical Center's aquatic therapy program and the hydrotherapy pool that anchors it had been scheduled to shut down Sept. 1 for lack of $50,000 needed for repairs.

Instead, that $50,000 could be raised within the next 30 days thanks to a $25,000 commitment made earlier this month from an anonymous donor, $10,000 more in donations announced Sunday and a fundraiser planned for Saturday, said Bruce Skinner, executive director of the Olympic Medical Center Foundation.

The $10,000 announced Sunday included $6,000 from a single donor, but donations “came in all shapes and sizes,” Skinner said.

“There were a lot of 10s, 20s, and 25s.”

Proceeds from “Hog Wild — A Night of Games, Suds and Grub” at Barhop Brewing in Port Angeles on Saturday from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. is a new fundraising event that will include a pig roast.

The foundation had planned to make it a general fundraiser until OMC CEO Eric Lewis approached Skinner about raising money to keep the pool operational, Skinner said.

The “Hog Wild” event committee took note, Skinner recalled.

“We all on the committee thought what a great purpose for the event,” Skinner said.

“We might fall a little short after 'Hog Wild,' but I feel confident that there are number of people who are not going to the event who are going to make donations.

“I think between people attending the event and receiving donations that we will reach the $50,000 in 30 days.”

The funds will pay for a new liner for the pool and other renovations.

“The liner is expensive because of the pool's features, which include an underwater treadmill and an adjustable floor,” Skinner said in a prepared statement Sunday about the $10,000 that was raised.

Center officials announced at the Aug. 6 hospital commissioners' work session that an anonymous donor would give $25,000 toward the effort on condition that it be matched.

“Hog Wild” will include a donation jar, a raffle and games that participants will pay to play, Skinner said.

The foundation also has raised $7,000 in sponsorships, which would more than cover event costs expected to be $2,000-$3,000, he said.

If ticket sales, as expected, cover those costs, the sponsorships will be added to the amount that will pay for improvements to the hydrotherapy pool.

OMC officials had said they needed to shut down the pool because of high operating costs and the need to replace the liner.

OMC has frozen capital spending after losing about $1.4 million in 2014.

Pool users and others have packed commissioners' meetings to support keeping the facility open.

OMC officials hope to keep the pool open through 2015 by restructuring pool management and increasing the number of users.

“We've always recognized it as very important, but basically what we're going to do is, we're going to work to support the pool, since unfortunately in the current environment, the pool dynamics don't work to support the program,” Dr. Scott Kennedy, OMC chief medical officer, told commissioners at the Aug. 6 meeting.

“We will work to re-engineer things and give it our very best shot.”

The pool is relied on by patients with physical therapy needs such as arthritis and other maladies.

Supporters say that at 94 degrees, the pool is a more viable option that cooler William Shore Memorial Pool in Port Angeles.

The OMC pool also has trained physical therapy staff to help patients.

The next closest hydrotherapy pool is in Silverdale.

To donate to the fundraising effort, phone the foundation 360-417-7144 or mail checks to the foundation office at 928 Caroline St., Port Angeles, WA, 98362

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Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5060, or at pgottlieb@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: August 18. 2014 10:38PM
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