Whidbey News-Times


Maybe Whidbey General Hospital board should look at sale, merger | Letter

September 18, 2013 · Updated 8:05 AM


We have reviewed Whidbey General Hospital’s website regarding the $50 million bond.

As property owners, we have serious concerns.

The decision to approve the bond will be made by registered voters on Whidbey Island. Yet the bond will only be assessed against property owners.

Whidbey General Hospital proposes property owners pay $50 million over 25 years in addition to the current “maintenance and operations” charge.

The website states that the number of Whidbey Island residents aged 65 and older is expected to increase 176 percent by 2025.

What impact will the Affordable Care Act and Medicare cuts have on the cost of operating this new state-of-the-art facility with “smart rooms?”

The national news media has reported rural hospitals are being forced to close as a result of the financial impact of the Affordable Care Act and cuts to Medicare.

In the future, will real estate owners be assessed additional costs for ongoing maintenance and operations deficits as well as the cost of the renovation and construction bond? Undoubtedly yes as the July 2013 Minutes of the Whidbey General Hospital Board of Commissioners reveal an operating loss of almost $1.49 million in the first five months of 2013.

Have all alternatives been pursued by the hospital board? Sale, consolidation and merger of hospitals has been a national trend for some years.

In 2011 the board of commissioners unanimously rejected a proposal to sell Whidbey General Hospital to Capella Healthcare.

The Whidbey News-Times article of May 10 reported that a Capella representative stated, “the company could make capital improvements to the hospital campus, save the hospital millions because of the company’s purchasing power with vendors and suppliers, and expand services while maintaining staff and seniority levels.

He also noted that, as a for-profit venture, the hospital would start paying taxes, which he said would provide millions of dollars for local jurisdictions.”

Perhaps the time has come to consider alternatives that would allow the owners of real estate on Whidbey Island to be relieved of the obligation to subsidize operations, maintenance and make capital improvements to Whidbey General Hospital.

Larry H. and Jewell Dean Lohman


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