WhidbeyHealth Wire: Future looks bright for Whidbey health care

Our community-based health care system has taken critical steps towards strengthening its financial and operational processes along with improved relations with medical providers and all supporting staff. In essence, a strong foundation was laid for our success in 2023.

In early 2022, the hospital was on the brink of closure with less than five days of cash and uncertain if we could make payroll. The medical staff had issued a vote of “no confidence” in the administrative team. We were losing professional staff and hospital employees, as financial difficulties mounted. The hospital Board of Commissioners made a bold decision in March to contract with a recognized health care management company, HealthTech, to lead the realignment of WhidbeyHealth’s vast ecosystem.

A new interim financial management team was established and a financial reporting system implemented, resulting in days cash on hand that has increased every month. Today we have 45 days of operating liquidity with a longer term goal of 120 days. As financial operations and medical staff relations improved, we had departed medical providers and key hospital staff return to the hospital, as well as patients.

The reorganized management team partnering with the medical staff received a very significant DNV hospital reaccreditation. That successful assessment validated that the hospital and clinics are meeting high national standards for safe quality care. The DNV team’s report made specific mention of many improvement areas over 2021.

Throughout the financial restructuring and improved medical staff dialogue, the quality of care at WhidbeyHealth never wavered.

Along with DNV, other national accreditations were awarded across the spectrum of care at WhidbeyHealth. Several individual services were reaccredited for safe quality care: cancer and oncology care, diabetes education, diagnostic imaging services, laboratory services, hospice care and sleep care.

While many other health care systems slashed services and struggled to stay afloat in 2022, WhidbeyHealth raised wages for its employees to achieve competitive rates for the first time in several years. While improving the financial position was clearly goal one, new services, new equipment, new providers and a talented array of employees were added during the year.

In addition, new services included swing bed support (inpatient transition to rehabilitation services) was restarted, a new clinic patient preregistration registration system was installed, the Freeland clinic reopened and hospice home medications delivery service implemented.

WhidbeyHealth also welcomed new providers, expanding the number of patients we can see in different disciplines from Primary Care to Women’s Care and Wound Care. They include Dr. Baltes, Dr. Fogart, ARNP Badger, PA Gomez, PA Brazle, ARNP Johnstone, ARNP Burckhardt, PA Mitchell, Dr. Cayabyab, Dr. Minow, PA Cunniff, Dr. Murphy, Dr. Dannhauer, NNP Ruddell, Dr. Engel and NP Walchenbach.

New and talented leadership was added in human resources, finance, revenue cycle, EMS, information technology and to the Board of Commissioners.

Please join us for the upcoming seventh edition of the WhidbeyHealth Wire, where we will continue our story. We are no longer looking to survive, as we enter 2023. We see our future as a thriving hospital health ecosystem driven by sound management, financially sustainable, growth, quality care, memorable customer experiences, and what the health care landscape on Whidbey Island should look like in 2023 and beyond.

WhidbeyHealth Wire is a regular column provided by the public hospital district.