UW Medicine needs to change | Letters

Caution: I have been and remain a grateful supporter of forming a Hospital District for Orcas. However, since writing my Letter to the Editor I’ve had cause to be concerned that the policies of UW Medicine, as they stand, are not a good fit for rural health care on Orcas Island. These are bound to be a problem for the elected commissioners, and anyone who might be a patient.

I am an alum of the UW, and proud of it. However, the exclusive closed UW system of providing health care is troubling to me. Allow me to explain.

An Orcas friend had surgery in Seattle performed by a specialist she’d researched for her condition. For a month post-surgery, she needed her blood checked twice a week (pin pricks). When she asked to have it done at the UW Medicine Clinic, the same building she had gone to for the past 25 years, she was refused service with the statement that the clinic will not perform courtesy labs for doctors not affiliated with the UW. It was suggested she go to Peace Health Hospital in Friday Harbor or to Island Hospital in Anacortes or to a LabCorp location. That’s not right for a rural health clinic.

In a follow-up with the clinic director it was learned that the UW Medicine does lab work here on Orcas, but it operates as a closed system, and since my friend chose a surgeon not affiliated with the UW, the Orcas Clinic would not help her.

I hope UW Medicine announces a change to its policies before ballots are mailed out for the April election.

Coleen O’Brien

Orcas Island