Letters to the Editor

Join the friends of Whidbey General

Beginning this week we’ll be getting a ballot in the mail for a special election. It is a single-issue ballot requesting support for a new patient nursing wing at Whidbey General Hospital. I strongly support the bond measure.

First, as a nurse and a nursing professor, I know a good hospital when I see one and Whidbey General is one of the best I’ve seen. I had emergency surgery last fall. Dr. Fru Bahiraei performed the surgery. I spent two  nights in the current nursing unit and had the best care I’d seen in years in hospitals large and small. I felt so safe at WGH that I let my partner go home even the first night post-op.  I have spent many a night in other hospitals with family and friends because I would never trust them to be in a hospital if they were on pain meds and couldn’t monitor their own care. But I felt comfortable spending the night completely under the care of this nursing staff. I recovered in record time, with no complications, no infection and almost no pain. Whidbey General is our hospital and I love it.

However, I was the only patient in a double room, there were no computers at the bedside, the nurses were still bringing pills in a cup, washing their hands every time they left the room to chart or get equipment or supplies.  Make no mistake about it. While the nursing care was excellent, the technology made their work more difficult. Single rooms are now the national standard. With two patients in a room it is almost impossible to maintain the privacy required by law or protect patients and family from infection. It means more steps, more hand washing, more chance of medication errors and only half the needed beds. I can’t tell you how easy it is to hang an IV medication on the wrong patient’s IV pole.

Nurses are constantly vigilant to make sure this does not happen and this takes a lot of mental concentration. The hospital wing built in 1969 has never been remodeled and is out of date.

Inpatient nursing is the heart of a hospital.  Hospitals exist to provide 24 hour expert advanced nursing care. Without it, the hospital would be an outpatient facility. When an emergency or an illness happens, having a place close to home where I can get excellent nursing care for family and friends means a lot to me. We need a hospital that physicians and surgeons can trust to support their work. This means a nursing unit as safe as possible from infection, from medication errors, from falls. Without this, our physicians will refer patients across the water and our hospital won’t survive.

The new wing will provide state-of-the-art technology. Our physicians and nurses deserve to have the best technology available so that they can deliver the best possible care to their patients.

Second,Whidbey General is our local public hospital. We elect the commissioners; we support it with our taxes, and our donations.   Do you support relocalization; spending our dollars at home? I do. We support local farmers. We buy our food at the Goose, Payless and the Star Store, appliances at Sebo’s and our feed from Bayview Farm and Garden, or the Farmers Coop. And, I support Whidbey General, our hospital, the people’s hospital. I want to make sure that it remains under our control. Whidbey General gives back more in charity care (more than $2 million) than it takes in taxes ($2 million a year). Our hospital takes in $76 million in revenue and spends $74 million in operations, maintaining spending lower than the revenue collected. That’s what I call fiscal responsibility.

When a need arises such as the new wing, the hospital commissioners bring it to the community in the form of a bond. As soon as this bond measure passes, I’m going to my financial advisor and invest in this bond, and you can to. Imagine investing in a local bond in these turbulent economic times! That really feels great to me. We support a new wing of the hospital that will provide a safe, comfortable state-of-the-art environment for patients and families, keep our hospital under local control, and have a local bond for investment purposes as well.

For more information visit the Friends of Whidbey General Hospital on Facebook, or contact me, at emjackso@aol.com. We also have a cause page, “Vote Yes on Whidbey General.”   Join the cause and invite your friends. Spread the word so people understand how important this measure is to us all.

We appreciate knowing your opinion and if your are so inclined we would be most appreciative of your support and your willingness to participate.

Eileen M. Jackson,


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