Friday, May 24, 2024

Rayfield Announces Upcoming Retirement From Cascade Medical Board of Commissioners


It’s important to note that when first asked, Helen Rayfield said ‘no’. Almost 20 years later, the community should be thankful she ended up saying ‘yes’.

The Cascade Medical community is preparing to celebrate Board Member Helen Rayfield as she decides to step down from her post August 1.
But for now, back to ‘no’. The year is 2006. Between running the wildly successful Big ‘Y’ Cafe, playing matriarch to her growing family tree, and volunteering for a number of worthy causes, Rayfield’s plate was full, literally and figuratively.

Former Cascade Medical Board member Bill Luebke knew all of that. However, there was an opening on the Board, and the position required an individual with strong leadership and deep community roots. He knew just the person for the job and didn’t plan on taking ‘no’ for an answer. "Oh, Bill!" said Rayfield. "He came to The Y" almost every day for coffee and bugged me to death!  I said, ‘I don’t have time, I have this restaurant’ and he said, "Helen, you would make a great commissioner and we need you.’ I said again, ‘Bill, I don’t have time," and his response was, "Helen, I know you. You can make time. We need you.’ Well, all you have to do is tell me ‘We need you’ about something, and I’m in."

It's a comment you would expect from a person who has dedicated her life to her community. "it’s my hometown, and I took a lot of pride in my hometown. I was a cheerleader in high school, I was always into everything, and this was another move to help my hometown, to do something that was supportive of my community. My hometown has given me a lot, and I thought, I should do this."

In the 16 years since she was first appointed to the board and won multiple re-election bids, the amount of growth and change she has helped steward at Cascade Medical has been nothing short of staggering. Rayfield played an essential role in Cascade Medical’s facility upgrade in 2008, helped guide strategic financial decisions that placed CM on firm fiscal footing, and approved expansion of services such as a psychologist, social worker and dietitian for wrap around services. Other improvements and expansions of care Cascade Medical experienced during her watch included the following:

• Passage of EMS Levies every 6 years with high approval ratings
(89% yes in 2007)
• Moved from paper charts to an electronic medical record in the hospital in 2013
• Started the UW Clerkship program for 3rd year medical student rotations
• Improved board governance, putting structures in to guide committee work, with a strong focus on Commissioner education
• Added low dose CT lung screening capability, digital mammography, and an aquatic therapy pool (the latter two supported by the Cascade Medical Foundation)
• Collaboration with Lake Wenatchee Fire & Rescue for ambulance response
• Free sports physical days in collaboration with school district
• Developed navigator programs to help people sign up for insurance on the exchange

It’s a lot. But ask Rayfield what she’s most proud of, and she’ll talk first about the people she worked with who made those additions and improvements a reality: "The people I worked with were special. Bill Leubke, Jim Ward, Arleen Blackburn, Nancy Hill, Mark Judy, I think I worked, and currently work with, some of the most dedicated people I’ve ever seen. We were, and are, a group that cares enough about one another to appreciate each others’ thoughts and feelings."

That concern for others doesn’t surprise Cascade Medical CEO Diane Blake: "Helen cares deeply for people and this community.  She’s smart, insightful, collaborative, and she gives her all to whatever she commits to.  Cascade Medical and our broader community are fortunate to have received the gifts of her time and care for so many years."

With Rayfield stepping down, there is an opportunity for a community member to be appointed to her position until the next general election in the fall of 2023. Blake said, "This appointment is an opportunity for a community member to share their perspectives and leadership skills to continue to advance healthcare in the Upper Valley, all while we grow to best resemble the community we serve." Those interested in finding out more can search for Board Commissioner under Current Job Postings on Interested applicants can send a letter of interest and resume to Cascade Medical by May 31.

In the meantime, what piece of advice would Rayfield give to the person who fills her seat? "Listen and learn. That’s the key. And I have to tell you, I’ve never been a good listener because I’ve always wanted to be the storyteller, but you’re asking me what the next person SHOULD do, so that’s how I’ll answer!"

Answered just how a humble, self-effacing leader would.

cascade medical, Cascade Medical Board, retirement, Rayfield, Helen Rayfield


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