Community issues discussed at Sekiu town meeting

SEKIU — The prognosis for a new operating room in Forks Community Hospital has gotten a bit brighter, thanks to Clallam County commissioners.

They approved the hospital’s application for $895,000 in federal Community Development Block Grant funds.

The remodeling will cost $1.2 to $1.5 million.

Commissioners Mike Doherty, D-Port Angeles, and Mike Chapman, R-Port Angeles, gave their votes and their encouragement to the project during a special Northwest Coast Town Meeting of county officials in the Sekiu Community Center on Wednesday.

The meeting was co-sponsored by the Clallam Bay-Sekiu Advisory Council and the Clallam Bay-Sekiu Chamber of Commerce.

The third county commissioner, Steve Tharinger, D-Dungeness, was absent.

Earlier this week, Tharinger announced he was battling cancer and planned to scale back his workload.

Antiquated operating room

Camille Scott, hospital administrator, said the hospital was built in 1952.

The operating room was last remodeled in the early ’60s — and it is antiquated, especially for specialists who visit the hospital to save West End patients trips to Port Angeles or Seattle.

“This is the opportunity we have to keep the specialists coming out to our area,” she said.

Community Development Block Grants usually are sought to improve conditions in blighted urban areas.

“We’re the first hospital to apply for one,” Scott said.

The Forks Community Hospital District originally was told that its residents were too wealthy to be block-grant beneficiaries.

So, the hospital conducted its own survey of about 1,200 families in the area and found that 68 percent had low to moderate incomes, enabling it to seek the grant.

The hospital will submit its application in three weeks, Scott said.

She expects an answer in March.

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