Letter: ‘Swing beds’ are wrong way to fix money woes


A June 14 South Whidbey Record article had a leader of “swing beds to help hospital’s financial woes.”

The swing bed scenario of bringing in $400,000 with no increase in staff needs reconsideration. Having been in Everett’s Bethany at Pacific three times after orthopedic surgeries, I have doubts of WhidbeyHealth having suitable staff to provide rehabilitation services. Acute care nurses are not rehabilitation nurses and hospitalist physicians are not rehabilitation practitioners. A reputable program will require the services of practitioner specialties currently not at WhidbeyHealth

Additionally, rehabilitation requires intense physical therapy utilizing equipment and space in the therapy department not in the patient’s room. At WhidbeyHealth this will require the patient to travel through the public lobby/waiting areas to get to and from the Rehabilitation Care Department.

I think that most rehabilitation patients would find this breach of privacy unsuitable. In my opinion, the basic flaw in this swing bed scenario is that according to this news article it was approved by the commissioners “as a new way for the hospital to make money.”

Controller Jennifer Reed points to the financial benefit to the hospital. Nowhere did I hear there is a great patient demand for the service.

The reason that setting aside five beds as swing beds “could mean a cash reimbursement of $400,000 with really no increase in staff” sounds too good to be true because it is.

Wasn’t it just a couple of weeks back that Commission President Wallin asked the community to complete surveys on the hospital and services so that decisions could be made in a transparent manner with community input? Now it seems he is just treating us as cash cows. I want to see WhidbeyHealth succeed financially but this is not the way to do it.

Tom Leahy


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