Election spells change for hospital board

The Whidbey Island Public Hospital District will soon have two new members of its elected board.

The Whidbey Island Public Hospital District will soon have two new members of its elected board.

Marion Jouas, who made a very strong showing, said the results of the Nov. 7 general election show that the community wants a “new vision” for WhidbeyHealth and people with strong health care backgrounds making decisions. She said people want more community engagement and better communication from hospital officials.

“Most importantly, it’s important to listen to what people are saying,” she said.

The results appear to show a clear mandate for the new board members. Once the new members take office, Ron Wallin will be the only one left who was on the board in 2021.

As of the second count Wednesday night, Jouas was ahead of Morgan Cooper with more than 70% of the vote. Jouas had 10,651 votes in her favor while Copper had 4,542.

The board appointed Cooper to the board in February after Grethe Cammermeyer stepped down.

Since Jouas will replace an appointed member, she will be sworn in as soon as the election is certified. She said she looks forward to jumping in and taking part in the current strategic planning effort.

The race between incumbent board member Eric Anderson and newcomer Kate Rose was even more decisive. Rose had 10,739 ballots case in her favor, which was nearly 72% of the vote.

Anderson, an Oak Harbor veterinarian, was on the board during the controversies of the last few years. The board fired the former CEO after serious financial problems came to light and hired a health care management firm to run the administration of the hospital and clinics.

Gregory Richardson ran unopposed for his position. He was appointed by the board about a year ago to replace Nancy Fey, who also resigned. He is a retired lieutenant colonel in the Air Force and was formerly a partner with a human resources consulting firm, where he specialized in working with health care organizations.

The new board members have strong backgrounds in health care fields.

Jouas, a South Whidbey resident, is a retired registered nurse with over 40 years of experience, 21 of which she spent serving in the Air Force. She’s worked in both military and civilian health care systems and has a degree in health systems management.

Rose, a North Whidbey resident, has a master’s degree in public health, a bachelor’s degree in organizational behavior and an associate’s degree in respiratory therapy. She worked as a registered respiratory therapist at an acute care hospital, a director of a home care organization and a research coordinator for the University of Washington Department of Pharmacy. She also worked for Island County Public Health and was the chairperson for the Island County Community Health Advisory Board.

Both women have also been involved with the nonprofit WhidbeyHealth Hospital Foundation. Jouas, who was the president for three years, has said she’s already learned a lot about the hospital district from the inside.