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Whidbey General Hospital's Emergency Services director complains of demise

Mark Borden, right, listens to a presentation during Monday
Mark Borden, right, listens to a presentation during Monday's Whidbey General Hospital board meeting. He later complained about how he was forced to step down as hospital's Emergency Services director.
— image credit: Nathan Whalen/Whidbey News-Times

After saying he was forced out of his Emergency Services Director position, Mark Borden is still trying to make a difference at Whidbey General Hospital.

Borden, who was contracted through Northwest Emergency Physicians, attended Monday evening's board of commissioners to talk about the situation that he said forced him to leave the position he held for five years.

"My striving to provide the best care for patients here on Whidbey Island has, in a large measure, resulted in my termination as director," Borden told the board members.

He said his employer, which is part of a larger company known as Team Health, and hospital CEO Tom Tomasino, sent him a list of conditions he would have to follow to keep his position at the hospital.

Borden argued that those conditions would compromise quality of patient care. "I felt that these conditions violated my civil rights, my personal ethics and my Hippocratic Oath," Borden said. One of those conditions was that he could no longer attend the public board meeting unless specifically requested by Tomasino. Commissioners are elected by Whidbey Island voters.

Borden would not go into specifics about other conditions laid down and he wouldn't provide any documentation concerning his relationship with Northwest Emergency Physicians.

One medical staff member, Chris Outlund, spoke in support of Borden.

"To lose Mark is a huge black eye to Whidbey Island and Whidbey General Hospital," Outlund said during the meeting.

Tomasino thanked Borden for his service to the hospital.

"I can appreciate the pain you're feeling but that was your decision," Tomasino said during the meeting.

He wouldn't provide any details after the meeting about Borden's situation. Rather, he referred any questions to Dr. Mark Harris, president of Northwest Emergency Physicians.

"I don't know what his employer said to him," Tomasino said, adding he doesn't have any personal animosity toward Borden.

Harris did not return a phone call asking for comment.

Whidbey General Hospital has been contracting with Northwest Emergency Physicians since 1987 to provide doctors to the emergency department. Hospital officials are determining whether they are legally obligated to disclose how much they pay Northwest Emergency Physicians each year, as requested by the Whidbey News-Times.

Tomasino said the hospital contracts with such a company because it provides access to a qualified pool of doctors it otherwise wouldn't have if officials tried to find staff on their own.

Borden said he will wait to see how Team Health and Whidbey General Hospital responds to his concerns. He said if changes made aren't satisfactory, he may take legal action.

"I need to make sure everything goes right at the hospital," Borden said in an interview after the meeting.

In the meantime, he is still working part-time at Jefferson General Hospital in Port Townsend  a well as the University of Washington in Seattle while tending to his farm located outside of Coupeville.

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