Letters to the Editor

Hospital gem in our midst

One recent Friday morning I found myself in the Whidbey General emergency room. While I had spent many hours there on prior occasions with friends and family members, this time it was my body on the line. It was me lying on the gurney with lines attached, in great pain and worried about what might be happening.

So, to be clear, kidney stones are nowhere near as much fun as they sound. The emergency room nurses were not only professional and efficient, they managed to maintain a light hearted attitude throughout.

Throughout this ordeal, though, one moment stands out. That’s when Linda Gipson, Ph.D., WGH’s new chief nursing officer, dropped by to see how everything was going. I had worked with senior military officers for years, and I knew when she walked in the room that she had command experience. She was very gracious and answered questions we had about the situation at hand. It was obvious, too, that the nurses I met were very pleased she was in charge.

I should mention here that such visits to patient rooms are not normal. In large medical centers patients just don’t see the administrative decision makers – instead they are typically treated like numbers, in and out the door. But this visit highlighted the very strength of a small, community hospital: it can focus on quality personal care.

The fact that Whidbey General has been able to hire someone with Dr. Gipson’s skill set, as well as her desire to maintain a clinical focus, is truly amazing. It makes me very interested to see the direction our hospital will take in the future.

I retired recently after 25 years, having served on the staff of six major medical centers as a speech pathologist in the Bay Area and Europe.

After arriving on Whidbey Island, I decided to work at Whidbey General on a part-time basis. Like most people I figured a small county hospital was going to be just a step behind the times. But after the two-day staff orientation, I walked away stunned. This was without a doubt the best introduction to a hospital I had ever received. I was intrigued. Later, I was equally impressed by the staff members I met who, although highly trained and experienced, had chosen to come to Whidbey --- sometimes accepting a cut in pay --- for the same reason so many of us did. It’s a great place to live and raise a family.

My message to you: Don’t wait to support our community hospital until you need to use it. If you do, this wonderful facility could very easily disappear or get swallowed up by the large profit-driven corporations waiting for it to fail. Step up and help make a great place even better.

Sue Keblusek, MA, CCC-SLP



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