Sound off: Vote ‘yes’ to keep Whidbey’s public hospital

By Julie Guilbert, RN

I have been a nurse for 27 years and am a certified oncology nurse employed by Whidbey General Hospital for 13 years. The hospital has a bond issue on the ballot you’ve just received, and I believe it must pass.

The bond issue ultimately becomes an issue of whether we can keep our public hospital at all in this climate of corporate takeovers by big “for-profit” health care systems.

Whidbey General Hospital, though small and with dated equipment provides excellent care and is close to home. It is a public hospital, which means we all own it. I’ve recently been a patient there and I received excellent care. I know that occasionally someone has a bad experience, and that those experiences tend to be the ones that get talked about; the great experiences get talked much less, but I hear people every day say how pleased they were with the care they’ve received there. Please let us be able to continue that care by voting “yes” for the bond issue!

As I’ve worked with the staff of WGH I am constantly impressed by the level of experience of the staff and their professionalism, and am very proud of the level of care that we are able to provide.

As a nurse I have worked at many large and prestigious teaching institutions (Emory University Hospital, UCSF Medical Center, Cedars-Sinai Hospital), and I know good care when I see it. Yes, we do a great job, but as a member of the Nurse Quality Committee I can assure you that we are always strive to do better. Having the physical support we need allows us to provide the best care we can and to stay current with the standards of today. Private rooms with private bathrooms are not a “luxury” but are necessary for providing newer equipment, for maintaining confidentiality, for making room for families and visitors, and yes, for patient comfort, all to promote a healing environment.

WGH’s physical spaces need to be updated. They need plumbing and electrical updates. Updated in-patient facilities give us the capability to provide the best ongoing infection control. In these days of ever new and worse infections, private rooms are the best way to keep them at bay.

Neighbors, remember, if you need emergency care, the fastest way to get it is to go to Whidbey. If you ever need cancer care, we provide the best care available that is the same care you would get at a large cancer center, using the same chemo protocols, but in a much smaller and more intimate and individualized setting. The care you receive at Whidbey is provided by your neighbors and community members, however unsung! Whidbey General and its employees care about the community and provide many services to support those of us in need. This is what it means to be a public hospital.

The bond issue on the ballot does require an increase in taxes, which no one wants to pay, but I can’t think of a better way to spend my money. We need this bond to pass to stay competitive and afloat in today’s market.

People (especially retirees) move to this community just for its proximity to the hospital. As our community grows and ages, we need to have the services to support us. People don’t think about their local hospital services until they need them. I urge you all to be proactive and think about them now.

Larger corporations are notorious for stretching staff to the limits, usually negatively affecting patient care. Those who are against the bond issue may think that this would be a great alternative to higher taxes, and those undecided may think this is a ploy to scare the community into voting for the bond. This is not a ploy; these companies watch for the opportunity to prey on a hospital’s misfortunes.

Thanks so much for your time; please pass the word and please vote “yes”  for the bond issue!

Julie Guilbert, RN, OCN

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