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New group forms in support of Whidbey General Hospital bond measure

By NATHAN WHALEN Whidbey News-Times Staff reporter
August 30, 2013 · Updated 10:14 AM
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Whidbey General Hospital Commissioner Ron Wallin, at right, outlines the expansion project hospital officials hope voters will fund by approving $50 million in bonds. The project includes building a new wing and transforming the current one to clinic space. Voters will decide on the proposal during the November general election. / Nathan Whalen / Whidbey News-Times

Volunteers promoting a ballot measure for a bond to finance an update and expansion of Whidbey General Hospital are focusing their efforts on North Whidbey Island.

The Friends of Whidbey General Hospital, a volunteer group tasked with promoting the $50-million bond, recently formed and conducted a campaign kickoff at Coupeville Town Park.

Around 30 people came together to gather signs to post throughout the island, learn specifics about the bond and answer questions.

“We need to bring this hospital up to a level that matches how good the doctors are,” said Brian Jones, an Oak Harbor resident who is part of the Friends of Whidbey General Hospital group and is coordinating the group’s speaking engagements.

Joe Mosolino, an Oak Harbor resident who is president of the group, said promotion efforts for the ballot measure will concentrate in the Oak Harbor and North Whidbey area.

When hospital officials ran the bond two years ago, the majority of North Whidbey residents rejected the $50 million bond. He also noted that a majority of voters in the Langley area and along Saratoga Road also rejected the bond.

In May 2011, 55.49 percent of Whidbey Island voters approved the hospital bond, which is short of the 60 percent supermajority required for approval.

Hospital officials are asking voters to consider a similar proposal during the November general election.

Voters will consider whether to approve a $50-million bond that will fund construction of a new wing that will include 39 single-patient rooms.

If approved, the property owners will pay 32.2 cents per $1,000 assessed property value. Property owners currently pay 9 cents per $1,000 tax for the hospital’s maintenance and operations levy.

The construction project will be divided into three parts.

The first would be construction of a new parking area that will be located behind the hospital’s Coupeville campus.

The current parking lot used by doctors and staff will be home of the new patient wing.

Construction of the patient wing comprises the second part of the proposed project.

Hospital officials have said the new wing is needed to comply with federal regulations, which include privacy, patient handling and infection control.

The current patient wing was opened in 1971.

sThe third stage of the project is to transform the current patient rooms into clinic space.

Mosolino has experience participating in successful bond campaigns.

He was a member of Citizens for Better Schools, which promoted a bond to renovate Oak Harbor High School that voters ultimately approved in 2006.

Members of the Friends of Whidbey General Hospital were busy gathering fact sheets and dispersing the 1,500 signs that will be scattered throughout Whidbey Island.

A Facebook page is set up and Mosolino encouraged volunteers to get photographs of the promotional signs being placed.

The group has to move fast considering there is less than three months remaining before the November election.

“What we have is a lot of work and a short time to do it,” Mosolino said during the campaign rally.

 

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