Editorial: Baby doctor needed

Whidbey Island’s civilian population is in a pickle with the prospect of soon having only one baby doctor to serve the entire island.

When obsetrician/gynecologist Dr. Kenton Sizemore moves on in September, it will leave only Dr. Lucie Riederer to take care of women who are having babies.

Whidbey Island Hospital District commissioners are rightfully concerned about the situation. It’s difficult to attract baby doctors because of the high cost of malpractice insurance. The hospital is barely breaking even monetarily, and the baby business is already a losing proposition. Should the district go further into the red with this service by guaranteeing the salary of another baby doctor, pay his or her insurance premium, or some combination of the two?

Whidbey General Hospital is in a tough position with babies. Many island babies are born at the Navy Hospital, while there’s also intense competition from mainland hospitals. But delivering babies are one of the basic services a hospital must provide, so ultimately more business needs to be generated to increase revenues. In the short term, however, higher subsidies may be needed to attract another baby doctor.

The more the public understands the complex issues involved the more support the hospital district commissioners will receive when their decision is ultimately made. The bottom line on babies: Get us another doctor one way or another.

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