Doctors want to close Langley Clinic

LANGLEY — The Langley Clinic is on the verge of closing, city officials announced late Monday.

The clinic, operated by Whidbey General Hospital Primary Care Associates in a leased building on Second Street, opened two years ago after the healthcare facility run by Dr. Stan Whittemore in the same building closed at the end of October 2008.

Mayor Paul Samuelson told the city council about the impending closure at the council’s meeting Monday night.

“This is not a pleasant moment for us,” Samuelson said.

Samuelson read an Aug. 30 letter to Anne Tarrant, president of the hospital board of commissioners, from Jerald Sanders, a physician with Primary Care Associates.

Sanders said there weren’t enough workers to keep its South Whidbey clinics open, and asked the hospital board to permanently close the Langley Clinic.

“It is the strong recommendation of all of the providers, north and south, that the Langley Clinic be closed and we work to maintain one viable clinic in Freeland,” Sanders said.

In the letter, Sanders said it was “simply not economically viable” to continue to keep two clinics open that were within eight miles of each other. He also pointed to problems with the Langley location and asked for the clinic to be closed soon, and forever.

Sanders said the clinic should be merged with the one in Freeland.

“The structural facility at Langley has multiple problems which cannot be corrected,” Sanders said in the letter, adding that the lease on the building would end in December.

Combining the Langley clinic with Freeland’s would cut costs, Sanders said, and help make medical services on the South End available five days per week, with Saturday hours added if more health providers join the staff of the Freeland clinic.

“Providers in Oak Harbor have been working their days off to attempt to provide ongoing coverage at the Langley and Freeland clinics. Everyone is simply getting worn out.”

Steve Shapiro, who owns the Langley facility with Doug Allderdice, said they hope to find another medical practice as a tenant.

But it won’t be easy, he told Langley officials Monday night.

“It’s going to be a real challenge to find another provider or providers to come in there independent of the hospital,” Shapiro said.

There is nothing wrong with the building, he added. It was designed to serve as a medical facility. Instead, Shapiro said the move appeared to look good for the hospital because it owns the building now housing its Freeland clinic, and there has been a shortage of primary care providers.

Shapiro also said they wouldn’t look for another tenant until they know the city would lend its support for the search. When the Langley Clinic closed two years ago, Samuelson led a committee with representatives from the community and the hospital to find a new tenant.

“I think that’s the same kind of energy that needs to show up,” Samuelson said.

“We’re ready to go to work on this,” he added. “But it has to be a big enough effort to actually engage anyone wanting to come.”

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