Whidbey General Hospital bond passes, work begins

Years of planning and effort have finally borne fruit for Whidbey General Hospital as voters have approved the organization’s $50 million expansion measure.

In a last count before the results are certified Nov. 26, the Island County Elections Office reported Thursday that the measure passed with 61.53 percent of the vote, or 13,063 people voting in favor of the proposal. Rejecting the bond were 8,169 people or 38.47 percent of voters.

But while many are celebrating the victory at the polls, the work for many other hospital officials has only just begun as they now face the enormous task of turning vision into reality.

“The focus now is building this new wing,” hospital Commissioner Grethe Cammermeyer said.

Some of the most basic details of the endeavor, however, such as when the project will be completed, are not yet clear. Requests for comment Thursday to hospital CEO Tom Tomasino and Commissioner Anne Tarrant, president of the board, were not returned by press time Friday afternoon.

Cammermeyer didn’t have many answers either, but said she would learn more next week when the hospital’s building committee meets.

Hospital spokeswoman Trish Rose did say Thursday that the next steps will include finalizing building plans, the sale of general obligation bonds, planning and finally construction, but a project completion date or timeline has not yet been established.

In an email to The Record, she wrote, “We hadn’t wanted to finalize plans until we knew the bond had passed and now we are beginning that process.”

Rose said her focus has for months been on the hospital’s public education campaign, an effort to inform voters what was being proposed and why.

She said ballot results are evidence that the effort, combined with those of the Friends of Whidbey General citizen advocacy group, paid off.

“It’s such a clear message,” said Rose, referring to the election results. “It’s really all about getting out the right information.”

“I think we ran a pretty good education campaign,” she added.

Cammermeyer agreed.

“The citizens of Whidbey realized the importance of having a first-class facility,” she said.

“I am so excited,” she said. “Thank you, everyone.”

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