Letter: WhidbeyHealth would benefit from new board

Editor,

Recently, Langley’s Frank Hemeon wrote a letter to the editor advocating additional taxes for the preservation and nurturing of WhidbeyHealth. Though Mr. Hemeon has a very impressive resume in the health care industry, I respectfully disagree with him.

Before further hospital-supporting tax burdens are placed on Whidbey Island residents, the institution needs a change in governance, and then complete a redesign of its mission.

This year, the CEO retired and then “resigned” and the human resource director disappeared. Last year, the director of plant operations also vanished without any announcement.

There are frequent changes in provider and management personnel. These are signs of an organization in descent.

Our hospital board of commissioners can’t be trusted to speak honestly with the public when it comes to areas of the district’s misfiring. In 2018, the state fire marshal performed an unannounced inspection.

The result was a 29-page list of fire code violations, including ones in the new wing. The board was allowing employees and patients to be in a fire trap.

The hospital district’s problems are not ones that can be helped by more tax dollars.

We need a rebuilt board of commissioners. I suggest that the board elect a new president from its two newest members and the three longest serving commissioners resign in spaced succession over the next 12 months. The board should vote to return the term of a commissioner to four years.

When that is accomplished, I think we can come to an agreement that we need a hospital, one with adequate basic in-patient services.

Primary care, urgent care, outpatient services and specialty areas as the MAC, homecare and hospice should be the major focus of the WhidbeyHealth system. But when it comes to major health conditions and specialist surgeries our health care dollars are better spent in transportation to mainland facilities.

Tom Leahy

Freeland

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