Like many rural communities, Chelan is facing a shortage of providers to care for residents. To address this, Lake Chelan Community Hospital & Clinics will partner with the University of Washington and Columbia Valley Community Health (CVCH) to offer a rural residency program in town. The program is scheduled to begin in August 2020 with two residents, though that number will double in size the second year, reaching its full capacity.
Each resident will spend two-thirds of his or her time at CVCH and the remaining time practicing at Lake Chelan Community Hospital, working in the hospital’s ER, medical/surgical unit and addiction recovery unit. CVCH and CVCH’s family physician Dr. Kari Bergeson were the main drivers behind the program, and Lake Chelan Community Hospital serves as the participating hospital.
Hospital leaders hope the new program will attract new providers to the area, as 70 percent of physicians will go on to practice within 30 miles of where they did their residency.
“What an opportunity for Lake Chelan Hospital,” said Steve Patonai, Lake Chelan Community Hospital & Clinics interim CEO. “The community will benefit from this affiliation in many ways. Physician residents will bring new ideas, and it will raise the bar for all caregivers in the hospital, as well as improve patient access. It will also be a valuable recruiting tool.”