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Decision near on next hospital commissioner for South Whidbey

Four South End candidates vying for a vacant position on the Whidbey General Hospital board of directors were interviewed last week, and one is expected to be confirmed soon.

A five-member selection committee will recommend its choice to the board at its next meeting on Dec. 8, said Dr. Roger Case, board chairman.

A new member for the vacant North End position on the board also will be chosen from three Oak Harbor candidates, who were expected to be interviewed this week, Case said.

“I think the board will accept the recommendations from the panel,” Case said. “My intention is to seat them upon acceptance. We have a lot of work to do.”

“They are all excellent candidates,” added Case, who also is Island County’s health officer.

Appointees to both positions will have to stand election next November to complete the vacant terms, which expire in 2011. From then on, each term on the board is six years.

The hospital board has been short-handed for more than two months.

In August, Holly Schoenknecht, of Langley, retired from the board. A District 1 commissioner for nearly 15 years, she said she planned to move to West Seattle, after 20 years in Langley, to be nearer her grandchildren.

In October, Kristy Miller, the North Whidbey commissioner, resigned for health reasons.

The remaining three commissioners are Case, Ron Wallin and Dr. Paul Zaveruha.

The four South End candidates offer a wide range of civic and professional experience.

Hal Seligson, 61, of Langley, has been a full-time Whidbey resident since 2002. He said his entire career has been in healthcare.

He retired from the New York State Psychiatric Institute/Columbia University of Physicians and Surgeons in New York, where he was an administrator for 21 years.

“I have been an advocate for local healthcare on South Whidbey since we first moved here,” he said at the time of his application.

He said he would work for a higher level of mental-health and aging population services, to improve recruitment and retention of physicians and to explore innovative ways through technology to link the island to the resources of larger medical centers.

He also is a precinct committee officer for the Democratic Party in Langley.

Grethe Cammermeyer, 66, of Langley, has lived on Whidbey Island since 1995. She’s a registered nurse with a doctorate’s degree in nursing science and 31 years in military service, including a tour as chief nurse of the Washington State National Guard and a career in the Veterans Administration Medical Care System specializing in primary care for sleep apnea and seizure patients.

She resumed nursing after retirement, and updated her credentials with clinical work at Whidbey General Hospital.

She owns and manages Saratoga View, an extended-family adult home in Langley, and is a board member of the Whidbey General Hospital Foundation.

She said her primary concerns regarding healthcare on the South End include the relationship between the hospital and the community, lack of community support and the relationship between providers.

Michael Noblet, 60, of Clinton, who has lived on the island for four years, has 22 years of professional healthcare experience providing financial advice to a number of hospitals and clinics.

“I know what a hospital is up against,” he said. “I think it takes a unique person to want to be in the public arena. I’ve always enjoyed the process, getting things done.”

Noblet conceived and directed Northwest Pharmaceuticals, which represented 90 percent of all retail pharmacies in Washington state.

In 1992 he founded and continues to manage Health Cost Management, which offers professional services to healthcare vendors.

From 1994 to 2001, he was a Bothell City Council member, and was elected mayor in 1999.

The fourth candidate for the South End position, William Lewis, 54, of Clinton, has 29 years of banking experience and is currently retired.

“I thought it would be nice to give something back,” he said this week. “I have the time to focus on doing a good job.”

“I think with my years in banking,” he added, “I would bring financial perspective to the board.”

Lewis worked in banking in California, Idaho and southern Washington before moving to the island in 2005. As a commercial loan officer, he said he worked with clinics and hospitals.

“I’m looking forward to serving,” he said.

Meanwhile, an earlier candidate for the South End post, Herb Weissblum of Clinton, dropped out of the selection process.

“I am withdrawing from consideration for personal reasons,” he wrote to the board, “and because you now appear to have several other apparently well-qualified persons seeking the position.”

Weissblum was a business and contractual lawyer for 35 years in Boston, Mass. before retiring to the island in 1997.

The three candidates for the vacant North End position are Dave Johnson, a retired banker; Anne Tarrant, a planning consultant; and Marshall Goldberg, a semi-retired physician and chairman of the Island County Democratic Party.

Goldberg also was a commissioner candidate for the proposed Island County Public Utility District, which was soundly defeated by voters in November.

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