"New doctor, medical building ready Dec. 1"

"Workers are putting the finishing touches on the new South Whidbey Medical Office Building in Freeland. Ken Berry of Whidbey Telephone entered the building to do some wiring on Thursday. It’s due to open on Dec. 1.Jim Larsen/staff photoThere is a new doctor coming to South Whidbey.Dr. Brian Waite, a family practice physician, will be ready to see patients in the new South Whidbey Medical Office Building in Freeland, which will be open for business Wednesday, Dec. 1.Waite is trained to care for people from birth to old age, with a speciality in rural medicine.“Rural medicine is more community based. A rural practice takes all comers,” Waite said. “We will be treating people with everything from high blood pressure and diabetes to children and geriatric patients. Big city medicine near university hospitals draws in the people with rare diseases,” Waite added.“For surgeries and treatments that can’t be handled at the clinic, we are fortunate to have a hospital the caliber of Whidbey General on the Island,” Waite said.Waite lives in Greenbank with his wife, Danielle, who is expecting their first child next month. He is a native of Washington,. He grew up in Pullman and attended Washington State University, the University of Washington Medical School , and completed his residency in Family Practice in Marquette, Mich.The Freeland clinic, located across a parking lot from the library, will become a primary care clinic for people who have been leaving the Island for their health care rather than driving north to Oak Harbor, said Eddie Miles, the clinic’s administrator. “The clinic is an attempt to corral people from leaving the island for primary care and to provide additional access to primary and speciality physicians, and provide for a walk-in clinic on the Southend,” Miles said.A study conducted by Whidbey General Hospital estimates that there are 3,500 people leaving the Southend for medical care. The average physician’s practice is 2,000 to 2,500 people.The clinic will open its doors to new patients on Wednesday, Dec. 1 at 8 a.m. The ground was broken for the 4,200 square foot clinic on June 8 this year. The $632,000 clinic consists of 12 exam rooms, a laboratory, x-ray room and procedure room.Whidbey General Hospital will lease half the new building’s clinic space to Whidbey Community Physicians, which is based in Oak Harbor. The hospital has been moving to shore up medical care on the Southend in other areas. The hospital agreed to help Freeland physician Dr. Patrice O’Neill attract another doctor -- who is expected to start in January 2000 -- for her clinic, and they have hired Dr. Haigh Fox to staff the rural clinic in the Whidbey General South building in Clinton to care for low and moderate-income patients.A Whidbey General Hospital survey in November 1998 sent to 50 South Whidbey residents revealed that of the 37 people with primary care physicians, 25 of those doctors practiced off the Island.“The survey confirmed what we had been hearing -- that more physicians were needed on the Southend,” said Scott Rhine, Whidbey General CEO.With Drs. Waite, Haigh and the upcoming addition to Dr. O’Neill’s staff, that need will have been largely met."

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