UW Medicine and Catherine Washburn Medical Association announce plans to pursue partnership for Lopez Clinic

Submitted by the Catherine Washburn Medical Association Board and UW Medicine

UW Medicine and Catherine Washburn Medical Association (CWMA) have agreed to pursue a partnership to assure continued access to primary care at the Lopez Medical Clinic.

In a Jan. 27, 2017 letter to CWMA board president Marty Clark, Dr. Brian Goldstein, UW Medicine Chief Health System Officer, stated his organization’s interest “given the strong level of dedication and enthusiasm shown by your board members and the community.”

Together, UW Medicine and CWMA will explore all options to provide for an affiliation with UW Medicine on Lopez Island. Because the Lopez Medical Clinic is currently operated through an agreement with Island Hospital, Goldstein said there are plans to include Island Hospital in the discussions to ensure a smooth transition.

“We are very pleased with this news and look forward to continuing the exploration,” said Lopez Clinic Medical Director Dr. Bob Wilson. “We know UW Medicine will be an outstanding partner for us. With their support, we will be able to build on the terrific care our clinic offers and have access to some of the finest medical support in the Pacific Northwest.”

Clark emphasized that continuing a relationship with Island Hospital is desirable. “We have received many comments that our patients appreciate the excellent inpatient and outpatient support that Island Hospital provides our community and we look forward to continuing that relationship.”

UW Medicine is also exploring an agreement with the Orcas Medical Foundation regarding the Orcas Medical Center. If both partnerships go forward, UW Medicine will partner with Orcas Medical Center and Lopez Medical Clinic but the two clinics themselves will not be linked.

According to Goldstein’s letter, one key to the Lopez partnership would be the development of a sustainable finance plan for long-term operations of Lopez Clinic.

To generate local funding for this purpose, the CWMA board is hoping the Lopez community will support a measure on the April 25 ballot for a hospital taxing district. Without this funding structure, it will be challenging to keep the Lopez Medical Clinic in operation.

“This is a new and significant undertaking for UW Medicine,” said Goldstein. “In many ways, we will be learning along with the Lopez and Orcas communities. The long-term viability and success of our partnership is going to require ongoing community support, patience and engagement. We see this as an excellent opportunity to provide quality primary care services to your community.”

Wilson and Clark emphasized that keeping the community informed as planning proceeds is a priority.

“We know there will be questions,” said Clark. “We’ll continue to get the word out as soon as there is news to share. This is a terrific development for Lopez. We are very encouraged.”