Medical partners eye defunct Coupeville dermatology practice

Physician Assistant Reese Bliek, at left, and Dr. Dan Fisher of the Coupeville Clinic are working together to reopen a popular dermatology practice that suddenly closed in Coupeville  - Jessie Stensland / Whidbey News-Times
Physician Assistant Reese Bliek, at left, and Dr. Dan Fisher of the Coupeville Clinic are working together to reopen a popular dermatology practice that suddenly closed in Coupeville
— image credit: Jessie Stensland / Whidbey News-Times

A couple of medical care providers are hoping to open a new Coupeville dermatology office to fill a need created when a doctor suddenly closed his office this summer, leaving patients without a skin doctor or access to their medical records.

In fact, the two men hope to lure other medical specialties that aren’t already on Whidbey Island, such as bariatrics, asthma and allergy, vascular surgery, gastroenterology or pain management.

Reese Bliek, a physician’s assistant, and Dr. Dan Fisher, an internist with the Coupeville Clinic, have partnered on the venture. They are both retired military members who previously worked together at the Navy Hospital Oak Harbor before going into private practice.

Bliek worked with Dr. Donald Johnson at Whidbey Dermatology for more than two years. He said he was as surprised as anyone when Johnson suddenly closed his dermatology offices in both Coupeville and Anacortes, as well as swanky medical spas in both towns.

“He said he grew too big too fast,” Bliek explained. “He was running five businesses and it just got overwhelming.”

As a result, Bliek is launching a new dermatology practice and is currently working to find one or two dermatologists to work in both Coupeville and Anacortes. Bliek has been in contact with Johnson and the doctor has agreed to allow him to take over all the records, as well as the patients who are willing.

“We want a clean, fresh start,” Bliek said. “Our goal is to bring a dermatologist to the area who wants to stay here and become part of the community.”

According to court files, the owner of the Whidbey Dermatology building evicted Johnson and filed suit for $98,000 in unpaid rent and other charges. As a result, nobody has access to his patient records, though Bliek hopes to change that in the next couple of weeks.

Bliek said he feels a commitment to the community and his patients, who have been supportive of his effort to start a new dermatology clinic. For some people, access to a dermatologist is a serious matter. Many people are dealing with skin cancer; four of Bliek’s patients are over 100 years old. At one point, Bliek said up to 70 patients a day were being seen in the office.

Bliek said he has also received a lot of support from dermatologists in neighboring counties. They’ve taken on patients abandoned by Johnson and are helpful in Bliek’s effort to open a new clinic.

Bliek explained that his dermatology office will be a completely new business with a new name, the Family Dermatology Co. He hopes to bring Mohs surgery, also known as chemosurgery, to the island to treat skin cancer.

To make the business profitable, Fisher said, they hope to share offices with other physicians. He said there’s a lot of interest from other medical providers in coming to Whidbey Island, which he said will be good for everyone.

“If we ain’t got it, people are going off the island and that’s bad for the community,” he said.

Bliek said he hopes to have a firm timeline established in the next couple of weeks for opening the business and giving patients access to their records.



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