What do you think of the medical care system on Orcas Island?

by the Orcas Medical Foundation

“Nobody really knows,” says Dr. Julie Gottman, well-known psychologist and researcher, and board member of the Orcas Medical Foundation, “because nobody’s ever asked the residents before – not in a detailed, systematic way that provides data we can analyze. There have been lots of discussions about medical care on the island, but not a formal survey of the residents who actually use the system.”

That situation is about to change. Dr. Gottman, with input from the members of the OMF board, Orcas Island Fire and Rescue, and others, has developed a rigorous survey that she hopes will be completed by everyone on the island.

“We need to hear from the whole community, every corner, about experiences they’ve had with our medical system, and how their needs have been met or not met,” she said. “We have a sense of some areas of need,” she said, “like after-hours care, mental health care, and round-the-clock care during rehab. But we want to know what particular kinds of problems people are struggling with, like orthopedic problems, chronic illness, accidents, or seizures, for example. Results will be totally confidential; no individual results will be disclosed.”

The OMF-sponsored survey has two goals:

• To identify specific medical needs of all segments of the Orcas Island community.

• To identify strengths and weaknesses of the Orcas Medical Center, which authorized development of the survey.

The responses to the first set of questions will be shared publicly in articles in local news media.

Results will be used to begin improving island medical services – helping to determine, for example, whether to have medical specialists visit the island regularly to see patients, and which specialists; which urgent care services need to be strengthened; and whether children are being adequately served.

Kevin O’Brien, OIFR chief, helped to develop the survey and is very interested in the results.

“OIFR is the first responder to many urgent care needs on the island. The results of this survey will be a tremendous help to us in planning our future emergency services. Through partnerships and collaboration, Orcas Island can become a model community for wellness.”

Hilary Canty, executive director of the Community Foundation, adds, “Once we identify the specific needs facing islanders, I know this community can work together to provide options and creative solutions.”

Each family member is asked to fill out a separate survey. The survey is available either on paper or online. The paper versions are available in many locations including the Orcas Medical Center, Orcas Family Connections, the Senior Center, Orcas library, Eastsound fire station, schools, the Funhouse, the Community and Episcopal churches, Eastsound and Deer Harbor Post Offices, Island Market, Ray’s Pharmacy, Orcas Spa and Athletics, the Village Stop and the laundromat and OPAL. Postage-paid return envelopes are provided.

The online version is available at orcasmedicalcenter.com/needs-assessment-form. You can also find a link to the online survey on the OMC website (orcasmedicalcenter.com).

Completing the survey takes about 15 minutes. The deadline for returning it is May 1.

Says Dr. Gottman, “Because our community is diverse, the more people we hear from, the better, so everyone’s needs are represented. Look for the survey, and take time to provide thoughtful answers. It’s so important in helping us to better help you.”