Sound Off: Open letter to the community from hospital board

Over recent weeks there have been major upheavals within the WhidbeyHealth system, including sweeping changes in senior leadership and identification of a severe financial shortfall which was reported to the community at the Feb. 17 meeting of the Board.

The purpose of this letter is to bring everyone up to speed on how we have approached these two challenges thus far.

When the Board terminated the prior CEO, we considered several options to recruit a suitable replacement. Our priority is to find a strong healthcare leader with a history of success at “turning around” financially troubled hospitals like ours.

On two prior occasions, the Board has promoted candidates from within the staff organization. We have also used professional recruiters (“headhunters”) to conduct a national search.

We felt neither of these was the best approach given our urgent need for high-impact leadership and the skills needed to restore financial stability. Like many hospitals in the United States have done, we decided to engage the support of a specialized hospital management firm and solicited proposals from two qualified organizations.

There are many benefits to this approach, not the least of which is access to subject matter expertise in areas including finance, healthcare technology, clinical quality, and other areas of performance improvement such as purchasing and supply chain and optimizing reimbursement from insurance companies.

After entertaining proposals from two specialized hospital management firms, and with input from administration and the clinical side of the hospital, the Board selected HealthTechS3 (HTS3) as our management team with Mr. Mike Layfield as interim CEO for WhidbeyHealth. We are confident that Mike’s decades of positive experience of turning around at least 15 hospitals will help us now as we move forward. Ultimately, we will be hiring a full time CEO through HealthTechS3. HTS3 will also assist us in identifying a full time CFO to continue the adjustments we will need to make to improve our fiscal health.

Throughout the process, we have received hundreds of comments and opinions from island residents, each were taken into consideration by the Commissioners. We are very grateful for the effort our neighbors have put into connecting with us, and we hope you will continue to give us your thoughts as we move through this transition to a vibrant, sustainable health system.

Many major achievements have been realized in the last few years. WhidbeyHealth is now a DNV Accredited Hospital and recently received acknowledgement by Becker’s Hospital Review for excellence in Nursing Care. Our Cancer Center – MAC Clinic – is nationally accredited. We have recently opened the Community Pharmacy in Coupeville and Walk-In Clinics in Clinton and Oak Harbor have been opened to meet the requests and needs of the community. The Covid 19 response was extraordinary and volunteers from the community made possible what was unavailable to many communities elsewhere in the United States.

We live here too and like you — we care, value and are excited about the future of WhidbeyHealth as we move forward. We hope you will continue to connect with us during this transformation.

Thank you for your support,

Ron Wallin, President

Nancyjean Fey, Secretary

Grethe Cammermeyer

Eric Anderson

James Golder