Smooth road ahead for local medical care

Access to medical care is a right. Perhaps, unfortunately, medicine is also a business. Providing medical care has to somehow be financially sustainable. In the 16 years I’ve been here, Orcas has not had a sustainable model – until now. With the hospital district taxes, merging of the two clinics, and the affiliation with a hospital with fewer than 50 beds, we are finally poised for success. The situation may currently look bleak. It certainly did the last time Island Hospital withdrew after accepting that it could no longer financially support us. With little hope for success, we approached UW and were pleasantly surprised. UW then became more and more expensive even without workable after hours care.

We now have an appropriate foundation for medical care on Orcas. Physicians leave practices for many varied reasons: some retire, some find more suitable arrangements. More than 150 practitioners in the Island Hospital system find their arrangements suitable. We may grieve, but I have great faith in our district commissioners. We do not know what plans or arrangements are yet unannounced. After years of a bumpy ride, I see a smoother road ahead.

Tony Giefer

Orcas Island