Whidbey General Hospital board declines to meet at 7 a.m.

Commissioners on the Whidbey General Hospital board decided to move the start time of their regular meetings back an hour to 5 p.m. beginning next year.

The commissioners also discussed the possibility of holding the meetings, which are on the second Monday of each month, at 7 a.m., which is preferred  by hospital administrators. But that idea was scotched because of the difficulty it would pose to physicians who attend the meetings.

Noticeably absent from the discussion during the board’s regular meeting last Monday was any concern about the public’s ability to attend meetings. The notion of holding public meetings at times when the working public can more easily attend has been a political issue among other public officials this year.

For example, Island County Commissioner Kelly Emerson has been pushing her fellow commissioners to have night meetings for public hearings, as suggested in county code. Her fellow commissioners agreed that it was an important issue but were also concerned about the cost. As a result, the commissioners have held more, but not all, public hearings in the evening.

In Oak Harbor, mayor-elect Scott Dudley and others have been critical of city council subcommittee meetings that are held in the early morning and other times when the general public usually can’t attend.

The hospital commissioners, however, focused on what would be best for busy hospital administrators and doctors. Certainly, few residents who don’t work or volunteer at the hospital normally attend the meetings.

Board President Anne Tarrant indicated that hospital administrators would like a morning meeting time. Hospital CEO Tom Tomasino agreed that he would prefer a 7 a.m. meeting, but he understood it may not work well for physicians who attend.

Dr. Douglas Langrock, the chief of staff, confirmed that evening would be the best time for doctors, but he said they could make any time work.

“We will be here no matter what,” he said.

Dr. Gabe Barrio pointed out that Monday is the busiest primary care day of the week..

Commissioner Paul Zaheruha, a doctor, said the problem with morning meetings is that it’s not predictable when they will end. Sometimes the board has executive sessions or other issues that can drag on for hours.

In the end, the commissioners unanimously voted to roll back the meeting time one hour and to hold meetings on Columbus Day; in the past, the meetings were moved to the day after Columbus Day even though the hospital was open.


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