Changes requested at health forum

Whidbey Island residents took the opportunity to voice their concerns about the health care system by attending a meeting in Whidbey General Hospital's conference on April 16.

While there, island residents met with officials from Washington Health Foundation to discuss the status of the state's health care system and improvements they want to see enacted.

"We need to find out what you want," said James Whitfield, director of Transforming Health Care for the Washington Health Foundation, speaking to the approximately 50 people participating in the discussion.

In addition to hospital employees and several public health professionals, senior citizens and the general public also participated. The solutions for health care that participants suggested ranged from limiting the profits of insurance companies and malpractice lawsuits to encouraging preventative measures.

One of the more quirky ideas was for businesses to allow "power naps" in the late afternoon and for larger businesses to offer exercise facilities.

Others suggested that some kind of universal health care coverage would go far to solve health care issues in the state. One countered that any such changes should be done on a national level.

Before the discussion got rolling, people questioned whether even having the meeting would make a difference.

Whitfield said that the information gathered from that statewide roundtable meetings will be used to put together a "health care values map" that will be given to health organizations. He explained that health care organizations have been willing to discuss reforms but wanted documentation to gauge public sentiment.

He admitted that he couldn't guarantee what kind of changes will come from these meetings.

"There will be changes," he said.

Washington Health Foundation is a nonprofit organization that helps families find proper medical attention, improves health care in rural communities and develops relationships with providers.

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