LIHD BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS STATEMENT

Read on behalf of the Board at the May 26, 2021 Regular Board Meeting

by

LIHD Board President, Commissioner Graville

While it’s not the Lopez Island Hospital District’s policy or practice to respond to concerns raised on Facebook, I’m going to start the meeting today by stating that recent Facebook posts suggesting the District will be terminating our relationship with the University of Washington in January are incorrect. The LIHD executed a three-year agreement with UW that runs through June 30, 2023, and we’ve not had any conversations with Island Hospital or any other health care organization about taking over the management of the Clinic on Lopez.

It’s possible there are concerns and sensitivities on Lopez following the Orcas Island Health Care District’s decision last month to collaborate with Island Hospital instead of UW. The LIHD and UW leadership have reassured Clinic staff and community members that the Orcas move is in no way influencing health care decisions on Lopez. Both the UW and LIHD remain committed to a partnership to support the Lopez Clinic and ensure its long-term success.

We don’t know exactly what prompted Facebook posts and comments about an end to the LIHD collaboration with UW. It’s possible there was misinterpretation of a recent discussion between LIHD and Lopez Clinic leadership about the District embarking on a strategic planning process.

Strategic planning is a routine activity of organizations to assess both where they are and where they’re going. We plan to prepare a press release to inform the public about the process that began last month with the support of a consultant well-versed in rural hospital districts and the challenges we face in San Juan County. We included the regional and local leadership of UW in our first two meetings, which are open to the public.  As we proceed, we’ll launch several work groups including members of the UW staff, other health care stakeholders, community leaders, and focus groups. We all look forward to the community’s engagement as we continue in this process through the end of this year.

We face significant challenges in our ability to deliver the spectrum of needed health care services in our small, rural and remote community. We’re fortunate to be able to partner with UW to bring additional services and expertise. While the UW organization has done an excellent job adapting to our unique needs, there’s mutual awareness that its model, designed for an urban environment, is expensive to implement here. That said, we’re all committed to working together to see how we can make it sustainable for the long-term.

The Commissioners recognize and appreciate the daily demands on staff to provide care, and we’ll continue to work with Clinic leadership to be sure staff receive accurate information about the partnership between the Hospital District and the UW. We also remain focused on being good stewards of taxpayer dollars as we strive to understand and meet the health care needs of the entire Lopez community, now and into the future.

 

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