I recently came across a petition urging the Orcas Island Health Care District commissioners to forego the current requests for proposals for the operation of a medical clinic on Orcas and instead to maintain the current agreement with the UW medical system. From what I can gather, this comes from the understandable desire to maintain the current practitioners at the UW clinic and the notion that we should continue the current arrangement to give Orcas “a better picture of their (UW’s) ability to serve.”
I have lived on Orcas since 1973, and have enjoyed the expertise of many doctors locally, both as a patient and professionally as a paramedic. The names Stan Williams, Jerry Eisner, Eric Lindborg, Todd Cowdery and Diane Boteler come to mind easily: all of whom have had to seek work elsewhere as the clinic could not sustain their practice. Two things seem clear from this experience: the clinic is not sustainable either on the shoulders of the goodwill of the practitioners or the philanthropy of individual islanders. Quality providers are indeed essential, but the underlying system must be sustainable for both the providers and the community.
This is the task we have asked the commissioners of the OIHCD to tackle. No mean feat: if it were easy, it would have been solved long ago, and many have tried. A community survey was conducted at the inception of the District and the commissioners have worked diligently to achieve a system that reflects the desires of the community.
I applaud the work to date of the commission, and I urge those who favor the UW maintaining the administration of our clinic now request the UW to submit their proposal to the OIHCD.