A physician’s perspective on the Orcas Medical Center | Guest Column

by Dale Heisinger

Special to the Sounder

After attending the University of Washington proposal for a Neighborhood Clinic on Orcas Island, I began reflecting on my experiences with my association with UW as a practicing pediatrician.

I want to make it clear that our group was not a Neighborhood Clinic but rather a WAMI (Washington, Alaska, Montana, Idaho) site responsible for supervising and teaching clinical pediatrics to UW residents who rotated through our facility. This association benefitted me, my colleagues and the patients for whom we cared. I developed a collegial and collaborative relationship with the UW faculty that generated trust and mutual respect. It kept me abreast of current medical advances that could be applied to the care of many of my patients, and it provided consistency in the delivery of that care for those patients who required multiple physicians.

Ultimately, our medical clinic adopted the use of EPIC, the premier electronic medical records that allowed us access to all patient information; i.e. laboratory and X-ray results, consultation reports, follow-up requests, and allowed us to communicate electronically with the UW physicians participating in the care of our patients. Allison Shaw wrote an excellent review (http://www.islandssounder.com/opinion/nine-excellent-reasons-to-support-uw-neighborhood-clinics-on-orcas/) in which she sited nine reasons to support the UWNC.

I include some of them here (condensed) with her permission, as they deserve repeating: 1. Increased level of expertise. 2. Telemedicine, allowing a physician and patient to see and speak to a specialist without leaving the island. 3. Coordination of care eliminating the fragmentation of care that occurs when multiple providers are involved. 4. E-Care: all medical records are available and accessible in one place. 5. Access to continuing medical education, an essential and required activity for all providers.

I strongly believe that a UWNC on Orcas Island is a win-win situation for the practicing physicians on the island, their patients and those who visit here. Clearly the patients would be able to retain the services of their physician (so important for those who have loyalties to their provider), and potentially improve the economic position of the center that has so struggled in times past. I hope that the physicians, their patients, and the Orcas Medical Foundation would forget their historical perspectives, reunite in the medical center, and remember that the Medical Center was built by the efforts of this community to serve all of us. And finally, we must also look at our medical future on the Island. This association will not only benefit us now if implemented, but will provide long term benefits and security to those who come after us.

Dale Heisinger, MD, lives on Orcas Island.