VIEWPOINT | A reputation isn’t made with a new name, it’s earned


I feel it necessary to respond to Brian Jones’ “Keep going” hospital point of view.

Jones makes some good points with regard to the health care industry moving to a customer focused industry. That is true in general. I am aware of this as a former CFO/executive director of one of the health care’s leading consulting firms in the country.

However, changing the name does not make the hospital customer focused. It has a long way to go based on personal experience.

As a resident of Whidbey Island, I rely on Whidbey General for personal health care. I recently had a severe injury to my left thumb and went to the emergency room to get it cared for. The in-process “process” was excellent, as were the emergency room’s physician and nursing staff.

This is the third time in 10 years I went to Whidbey General for emergency care; all experiences were excellent. Move beyond the hospital’s capabilities and here’s where the system breaks down. The emergency doctor cleaned the wound, told me the tendon was severed and that it required the attention of an orthopedic doctor.

Unfortunately, the hospital does not have “internal” orthopedic physicians and must rely on referrals. That was my experience on the most recent visit. I went to the referred physician who looked at the wound and said, “it will heal itself … Think of it as spaghetti, the noodles will reconnect themselves.”

He made that observation without removing the stitches and looking at the severed tendon. Not satisfied with that diagnosis, I went to a second doctor who specializes in hand surgery, and he recommended immediate surgery. He found some dirt still in the wound, the tendon severed and bone nicked. He inserted a steel rod in the nicked bone, stitched the severed tendon and the wound.

I sent a letter to the hospital’s new CEO citing my own experience, and that of others I spoke to. I suggested, in a letter to Geri Forbes that the hospital look into the process of patient referral for orthopedic surgery.

Ms. Forbes sent my correspondence to the CFO, with instructions to contact me. He did call me; and left a message to return the call. I did and never heard from him.

Not all CFOs are customer focused — I know as a retired CFO.

Given the lack of follow-up by the CFO affirms my position.

So, changing the name does not make the hospital “customer focused.” Nor can I fathom, as a career executive director of several consulting firms, the expense of $150,000 to come up with a new name.

The hospital has to earn the reputation; changing the name does not cut it.

About $50,000 should have done it – the other $100,000 should have been spent on referral qualification and refining the patient referral and follow-up process.



Robert Boehm is a resident of Greenbank.