Langley is fighting to keep clinic in town

Patients of a Langley doctor’s office are fighting to keep the Langley Clinic in town.

Dr. Stan Whittemore of the Whidbey Clinic announced in a letter to his patients earlier this month that he is retiring from medicine and has decided to close the practice at the Langley Clinic.

The Langley Clinic will cease seeing patients on Oct. 31, according to the letter that he also posted on his Web site.

Fran Johnson, a longtime patient of the clinic, is upset.

“This will have a definite impact on clinic patients,” she said.

“Patients living within the clinic area can walk to clinic, especially those living in Brookhaven. When a patient — new or old — establish themselves with a doctor, they expect this relationship to last for many years,” she said.

In Johnson’s case, the relationship with the clinic has been a family tradition. Both her husband and she are patients.

“After moving back home 14 years ago, I had all our records sent from Edmonds to the Langley Clinic. That was when Dr. Embry was there, then continued on with Dr. Hurlocker, and Dr. Whittemore bought the business from Dr. Hurlocker,” she said. “My dad was a patient as well.”

Not having a clinic in town will hurt the quality of life in Langley, she said.

“This makes for a feeling of security and relief to know at any time during regular working hours they can make an appointment with their family doctor, especially the older population that depends on severe health problems being taken care of,” Johnson said.

“A doctor/clinic has been in downtown Langley for over 80 years, probably closer to 100. I believe recruiting a new doctor should very well be a huge community effort,” she added.

An effort to keep the clinic is already under way.

Hal Seligson, who along with wife Marilee, have long warned about inadequate healthcare on the South End, said he met with Langley Mayor Paul Samuelson and several other residents Thursday to discuss ways to keep the clinic in town.

“There seems to be a strong consensus that Langley needs a clinic,” he said.

He added that the group will approach Whidbey General Hospital for help.

Seligson said it’s not only a matter of healthcare, but of the economy.

He explained that patients who now have to leave Langley to go to a doctor in Freeland or Coupeville, may decide to go to Everett instead because of the greater variety of services and providers.

Samuelson said the city of Langley will explore what options it has to support the effort.

“I had several phone calls about this. The city of Langley will do everything it can to keep the clinic here,” he said.

Meanwhile, Whittemore has asked patients to schedule appointments for a final visit. Whittemore’s staff said he declined repeated requests to talk to The Record about his departure.

“I will be leaving Whidbey Island to pursue other interests after my business affairs are complete,” he wrote in the letter. “Ann Lower, ARNP, anticipates continuing patient care at the Langley Clinic until it closes, after which she plans to transition her patient care to South Whidbey Healthcare.”

Whittemore added that patients who wish to have a final appointment at the Langley Clinic before it closes should make an appointment well before Oct. 31.

For patients with chronic conditions, a final appointment may be important for clarification of treatment plans, testing or medication updates or medication refills to last during the change to a new provider.

Whittemore also said he is working closely with the providers and administrators at Whidbey General Hospital to assist patients in a smooth transition to a new doctor or provider.

South Whidbey Healthcare in Freeland will become the custodian of the medical records currently kept at the Langley Clinic after the clinic closes.

Lower will move on to South Whidbey Healthcare.

Patients can go to the clinic’s Web site for updates, click here.