Letter: Patients suffer due to hospital mismanagement


I commend you for your coverage of the turmoil and disarray at WhidbeyHealth. As a contract telepsychiatrist for them, I have been a witness to their mismanagement for two years. Patients routinely tell me how their phone calls to primary care are never answered, how they’ve often seen three primary care providers over the course of 12 months due to high staff turnover. I could go on, believe me.

In response to WhidbeyHealth’s dire financial situation, my weekly hours are being cut by more than 50%, effective next month. Patients will only be able to access my services from Oak Harbor, no longer from Freeland, too. Already, I could only see patients every 4-5 weeks, a stretch for individuals who are suicidal, psychotic or in the throes of addiction. This reduction in hours will mean patient access to me will diminish still further. Meanwhile, the journey from the south of the island to Oak Harbor will be a significant barrier for people living paycheck to paycheck.

It staggers the imagination that the CEO/CFO who ran a system into the ground will still receive his six-figure bonus, as patient care suffers and the job security of rank-and-file employees is thrown into question. Isn’t it great to see that levy lift put to good use?

Meanwhile, if these proposed changes to mental health services move forward, I’m voting with my feet and taking my expertise elsewhere. I won’t enable yet another health system to treat psychological care as the red-headed stepchild to medical services. I won’t let an administration claim they’re providing quality mental health services to the community they allegedly serve, when it’s only window-dressing.

I hope the residents of Whidbey Island will demand better. They deserve better.

Andrew Spitznas, MD

Mount Vernon, WA