WhidbeyHealth CEO Ron Telles answers questions about the switch in services at the Clinton Clinic. Many longtime patients expressed anger that the healthcare system didn’t notify them that primary care services were being dropped May 30. Photo by Patricia Guthrie/Whidbey News Group

WhidbeyHealth CEO Ron Telles answers questions about the switch in services at the Clinton Clinic. Many longtime patients expressed anger that the healthcare system didn’t notify them that primary care services were being dropped May 30. Photo by Patricia Guthrie/Whidbey News Group

WhidbeyHealth CEO apologizes for Clinton clinic chaos

‘We want to take care of this community’

WhidbeyHealth CEO Ron Telles apologized and took the blame for not notifying Clinton Clinic patients of plans to end primary care at that location.

“I won’t make excuses,” he told about 20 people attending a Tuesday meeting at the clinic. “We want to take care of this community.”

The new CEO admitted the handling of the clinic’s change in services was poorly communicated. Patients are being given the option to switch their care to the Freeland Clinic, located about seven miles north.

In a press release sent out May 30, WhidbeyHealth announced the Clinton clinic was closing to primary care services and would reopen as a laboratory and diagnostic imaging facility July 1.

Many at the meeting said WhidbeyHealth never directly notified them. Some longtime patients indicated they would seek health care in Everett or elsewhere because of the “callous disregard” shown them.

“It’s somewhere between incompetence and negligence,” Steve Erikson said of finding out the clinic was closed from a June 4 Record article.

“I had an urgent problem,” he said. “We were not notified by the providers that they were leaving.”

Diane Ludington, patient registrar, said the staff did inform people coming in for appointments of the need to switch care to the Freeland location.

WhidbeyHealth plans to convert the Clinton facility into a diagnostic center starting July 1. It then plans to add the staff necessary to open it as an urgent-care / walk-in center, possibly this fall.

Having an urgent-care facility could lessen the load of patients seen at WhidbeyHealth Medical Center’s emergency room who are suffering minor problems, such as colds or sprains, Telles explained.

Lab services, x-rays and other diagnostic images, including mammography, will be available Monday-Friday 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m starting July 1 at Clinton. No lab services will be available at Freeland’s WhidbeyHealth Primary Care after July 1.

Constant turnover of staff at Clinton’s clinic location was also a top concern at the hour-long gathering.

“They’ve given me whiplash for years,” Bea Rawls said, “Why do the providers always leave?”

Harvi Bedi, manager of primary care services, responded that finding good physicians and providers is one of the health system’s greatest challenges.

“Island life is not for everybody,” he said.

The Clinton clinic had about 6,000 patient visits last year. It’s generally been staffed by advanced registered nurse practitioners who were described at the meeting as “wonderful,” “best around,” and “sorely missed.”

Hannah Carlson offered her insight about working at the clinic as a nurse practitioner from 2012-2019. She left, she said, because Saturdays were added to her schedule, and she wanted to spend weekends with her family.

“This building is very small. It has four exam rooms,” Carlson said. “The demand is high, but the space is small. It puts practitioners under stress.”

Telles explained that changing the focus of the Clinton clinic had been discussed by the administration for years. WhidbeyHealth owns the building, he said, adding that “it needs some love. The appearance from the outside has always bothered me.”

More in News

Commissioner will delegate vote for state senate appointment

Island County Commissioner Helen Price Johnson won’t vote on a state senate… Continue reading

Man files another public records lawsuit against Langley

A South Whidbey man has filed another lawsuit against the city of… Continue reading

Island County’s longtime hearing examiner is likely to be replaced

For the first time in more than 30 years, there will be… Continue reading

Navy SAR conducts medical evacuation on Olympic Peninsula

On Oct. 3, a search and rescue team from Naval Air Station… Continue reading

Another Narcan Night set for Oct. 24

Island County’s opioid outreach team is hosting Narcan Night 6 p.m., Oct.… Continue reading

Photo provided by Island County Sheriff’s Office 
                                A Langley man in a single-seat kit aircraft crashed Friday afternoon after his plane lost power while in the process of landing at Whidbey Airpark on South Whidbey.
Langley man injured in fiery plane crash

A 65-year-old Langley man was airlifted to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle… Continue reading

I-976 could detour Island Transit buses

If passed, Initiative 976 has the potential to significantly diminish bus and… Continue reading

Newspaper writers win top awards

Two Whidbey News Group staff members received top writing awards at a… Continue reading

Larsen talks health care, housing at vets forum

A local congressman and a panel of veteran service providers fielded questions… Continue reading

Most Read