Orthopedic surgeon Dr. Fred Wilson listening to a question from an audience member
Whidbey General Hospital & Clinics held its third town hall-style talk of 2016 on March 22 in Coupeville. A group of about 65 gathered in a conference room at the hospital, where outside the window workers were busily preparing the site for construction of Whidbey General’s new inpatient wing.
Hospital board president Anne Tarrant thanked attendees and opened with brief remarks on the building project and on how the board works to meet healthcare needs throughout the community. Commissioner Georgia Gardner, who represents Central Whidbey on the board, spoke about Whidbey General’s history and evolution, and acknowledged the families who worked on establishing the hospital in 1970.
CEO Geri Forbes also talked about the building project and addressed how emerging trends in healthcare could impact Whidbey Island.
“The healthcare in this country has changed more rapidly in the past one to three years than I’ve seen it change in the 35 years of my career in this business,” Forbes said.
“Today we are being told by the federal government that we are responsible for the population we serve,” she continued. “That means keeping up with changes in care, updating the payer system, dealing with aging facilities and other changes, all while continuing to provide you with the care you need in the most cost effective way we can.”
General surgeon Dr. John Hassapis and orthopedic surgeons Dr. Kipley Siggard and Dr. Fred Wilson talked about why it’s important to hone the surgical care that allows residents to remain on-island for certain procedures. The surgeons also spoke about why they enjoy practicing on Whidbey.
“It is the exactly the right place to do certain things that a Critical Access Hospital and its clinics are meant to do,” Wilson said. “I applaud Geri who has the foresight and wisdom to know that we can make this a better place.”
Keith Mack, director of Marketing and Community Relations, gave a presentation on why Whidbey General will adopt “WhidbeyHealth” as the umbrella name for all locations and services later this spring.
The question-and-answer period lasted about an hour. Attendees had questions or comments on the building project, the name change and various healthcare services.
Some in the crowd opposed the name change, but others spoke up and applauded the reasoning behind it.
One participant said that the presentation clarified why the name change would help community members better navigate their care among the hospital and all its clinics.
“Thank you for that explanation. I came here unconvinced, but I get it now,” she said. “It will always be the hospital to me and Miriam’s will always be Miriam’s, but I get it.”
The Coupeville gathering was the best attended of the three talks held by the hospital in 2016. Similar talks took place in Langley in January and in Oak Harbor last month.
More town hall-style talks will be scheduled for later this year.