Hospital no longer ‘General’: ‘We’re changing our name,’ CEO reveals

Whidbey General Hospital CEO Geri Forbes announced that the hospital is changing its name to WhidbeyHealth.  - Photo by Justin Burnett/Whidbey News Group
Whidbey General Hospital CEO Geri Forbes announced that the hospital is changing its name to WhidbeyHealth.
— image credit: Photo by Justin Burnett/Whidbey News Group


No, it’s not a typo. It’s Whidbey General Hospital’s new name.

Organization officials announced the change Thursday in Langley at the first of a series of island-wide, town-hall style meetings. CEO Geri Forbes  delivered the news.

“I have a secret to share,” she said with a grin. “We’re changing our name.”

Entering its 46th year, the hospital and its services haven’t been “general” for some time, she said; they aren’t the old brick facility the public imagines, especially with the $50 million expansion now under construction.

The new name is meant to convey a sense of “continuance” in care, as the hospital offers care to those on their first day of life, their last and every day in between.

Hospital spokesman Keith Mack said that the name, specifically making it one word, was designed to be simple and unique, and easy to say and remember.

Forbes said she didn’t have an estimate for how much the change will cost, but said they are approaching it “conservatively.” Existing printed materials, such as business cards, will be used up and electronic materials, such as letterheads that can be printed out rather than ordered, will be utilized, she said.

The town-hall meeting was the first of three set to take place  across Whidbey over the next month.

More than 30 people showed up, about a dozen were either employed or affiliated with the hospital, according to Anne Tarrant, a commissioner and president of the hospital board.

Tarrant said the meetings are something the board wanted to do for some time as a tool to better connect with the public.

“We’ve held board meetings but that’s not really a way to get to know you,” she said.

Commissioner Grethe Cammermeyer, South Whidbey’s representative, was up next and didn’t varnish her words.

“Thank you for coming … the alternative was, of course, to watch the Republican debate,” Cam-mermeyer said.

She touched on the hospital’s expansion project.

“It’s been a bitch,” she said, earning laughter throughout the room.

“We’re really excited about bringing the rooms up to 2016 standards,” Forbes said.

She also addressed health care services and, of course, the name change. Questions from the crowd followed and attendees weren’t shy.

Diane Kendy asked about future expansions, such as a facility in Langley; a past office on Second Street is one of the reasons she moved to town, but it’s now a veterinary clinic, she said.

Though the hospital is looking at broadening services in strategic areas, nothing is immediately planned for Langley, she said.

“I wish we could fix everything overnight,” Forbes said.

Lynn Willeford brought up staff retention, particularly in clinics. Forbes said they are working on the issue, noting that it’s a multi-faceted challenge. Spouse contentment is a factor, as is community support and patronage.

“It’s also up to you,” she said.

A discussion followed about the difficulties of luring new staff to the island. Dr. Kipley Siggard and Dr. John Hassapis, a surgeon, spoke to the issue.

Also discussed were the different populations served or underserved, including Navy personnel, and insurance and network issues.

Stig Brandfors took the microphone and said the hospital provided first-class medical services but charged up to three times as much as other facilities.

Reading from a multi-page document, he spoke for about five minutes before being asked by organizers to share the time with others.

Tarrant said she had no expectations about turnout and was pleased with the result. She’s looking forward to the next events in Oak Harbor and Coupeville.

The meetings are set for 5 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 24, at the Oak Harbor Yacht Club, 1301 S.E. Catalina Drive,  and 5 p.m. Tuesday, March 22, at Whidbey General Hospital, Conference Room A & B.


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