Opinion: WhidbeyHealth is on the road to recovery

Positive changes are occurring at WhidbeyHealth. The previous CEO has left, and WhidbeyHealth’s Board of Commissioners has hired a professional management team for less money than we were paying the previous CEO. Mike Layfield is the new interim CEO and Jim Childers is the new interim CFO. They have updated the audits and financial reports. Every department and procedure of the hospital is being reviewed for efficiency, and positive changes are being made.

The Hospital Board of Commissioners has approved the refinancing of our debt, which could reduce our annual interest expenses. HealthTech, the Board of Commissioners along with the medical staff, initiated cost controls and revenue enhancements of approximately $8.2 million forecasted for 2022 and $12.6 million in 2023.

When the knowledge of the hospital’s financial situation became public, the governor’s office, state Sen. Ron Muzzall, state Rep. Dave Paul, Island County Commissioners Jill Johnson, Melanie Bacon and Janet St. Clair, U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen and U.S. Sen. Patty Murray started looking into providing grants and financial assistance. The doctors who held a vote of no confidence in the previous administration are now actively working with the current administration to improve morale and operations. Based upon the increased revenues from the recent levy lift, the Board of Commissioners just approved salary increases to Whidbey’s registered nurses. Several new doctors and staff personnel are coming on board and some of the departments will be updated and expanded.

Now post-pandemic, our health care system is becoming a stronger, more efficient organization, that will serve our island well.

We provide services that over 50% of critical access hospitals do not provide such as:

l Obstetrical services (we deliver over 170 babies annually, just hired a new OB/GYN joining us in August and deliveries are increasing).

l Cancer center: Chemotherapy and immunotherapy, and infusion therapy, including blood infusions.

l Orthopedics and eye surgery.

l Sleep center.

l Wound care center.

l Diabetes, ostomy and elvic floor dysfunction services.

l Hospice and palliative care services.

l EMS ambulance services.

l Five hospital sponsored rimary care and walk-in clinics spread throughout the island.

l Inpatient swing bed and rehabilitation services.

We continue to have an excellent staff of medical professionals. With the support of our Whidbey Island community, we will have a first class hospital.

James D. Golder is the District 2 commissioner for the Whidbey Island Public Hospital District.