Healthcare-Associated Infection Prevention Program at WhidbeyHealth Continues to Surpass Milestones


The Whidbey Island Public Hospital District (WhidbeyHealth) celebrated its continued excellence regarding infection prevention protocols and best practices this week. Infection Preventionist and program lead, Colleen Klamm, BSN, RN, CIC, reported that WhidbeyHealth continues to provide top of class, safe and quality care across the continuum of health care available on Whidbey Island. For more than a year WhidbeyHealth has been free of any surgical site infections and has had a zero percent (0%) infection rate for device associated infections in some areas for nearly 15 years.

A healthcare-associated infection (HAI) is an infection that develops during or soon after receiving healthcare services or staying in a healthcare setting. Infections are a serious problem and many are preventable. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) cites that on any given day, about one in twenty-five hospital patients has at least one HAI. Today, WhidbeyHealth’s Infection Preventionist, Klamm, celebrated:

  • ZERO surgical site infections since May 2022 (inpatient and outpatient procedures)
  • ZERO urinary catheter infections since 2019
  • ZERO ventilator infections since 2015
  • ZERO central line infections since 2009

“The tremendous success of our Infection Prevention program is an important factor in the quality of care our community can expect to receive at WhidbeyHealth,” commented Shanna Harney-Bates, Executive Director of Quality. “These results paint a picture of what our community can expect from WhidbeyHealth – safe, quality care.”

“Sustaining a zero healthcare-associated infection rate and like-minded practice culture takes many people coming together, working towards a common goal,” reflected Klamm. “Beyond the Surgeons, it takes coordinated efforts from Environmental Services, Sterile Processing, Registered Nurses, Technicians, and our Anesthesia Team to create an infection-free environment. All should be celebrated for their dedication to delivering safe and quality care to our community.”

WhidbeyHealth Named Among Top in State for Responsiveness


The Whidbey Island Public Hospital District (WhidbeyHealth) has been named one of the top hospitals in Washington State for staff responsiveness based on CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) sharing their HCAHPS (Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems) survey results. The rating is based on survey data collected from October 2021 until September 2022.

Becker’s Hospital Review aggregated and reported on the CMS published HCAHPS which are based on publicly reported HCAHPS measures. The exceptional rating summarizes how quickly patients felt they received care after using the call button and general responsiveness regarding their care. This acknowledgement follows similar recognition published by CMS last year, that named WhidbeyHealth one of nine hospitals in Washington with top nurse-patient communication ratings.

“WhidbeyHealth focuses on connecting with each patient to make their stay with us as comfortable and accommodating as possible,” commented Curtis Shumate, Executive Director of Nursing. “We couldn’t be more pleased to share exceptional and compassionate care with our community.”

Join Tour de Whidbey on its 21-year anniversary

Saturday, August 19, 2023

To register, volunteer or donate, visit:

This year marks the 21-year anniversary of Tour de Whidbey. Since 2022, the Whidbey community has come together around a unified mission to host this bicycle ride fundraiser – known as one of the most beautiful rides in the Pacific Northwest. More than 6,000 cyclists and their families visited Whidbey from 23 states, Canada, and 87 towns in Washington to enjoy some of the most scenic vistas in the Pacific Northwest and to raise money for health care needs on the island. Throughout the 21 years, proceeds raised by Tour de Whidbey went directly to support the highest priority needs of surgical and diagnostic equipment for WhidbeyHealth.

Hosted by the WhidbeyHealth Foundation, this community fundraiser promotes tourism and economic vitality on our rural and remote island. Participants stay in our local hotels, eat in our local restaurants, shop at Whidbey’s boutique shops, and enjoy a mini vacation. Additionally, it promotes health by encouraging the fun aspects of physical fitness.

“Tour de Whidbey breaks diversity barriers, promotes an inclusive culture, and brings the community from the north, central, and south Whidbey together around a unified mission. In 2022, our youngest participant was one year old, and our oldest rider was 81 years old,” stated Samar Arny, Executive Director of the WhidbeyHealth Foundation. “The diversity and inclusion of all ages and backgrounds in one event promoting health, outdoors, and fun times are remarkable attributes of this fund raiser.”

Hundreds of volunteers sign up annually from all over the island in the friend-raiser to coordinate logistics across the six bike routes or to help at the ten fully stocked break stations.

There are several ways to participate and contribute with us. Start by registering your family or friends to ride. Sign up to volunteer or donate towards the cause and the sustainability of this initiative. For more information, contact Samar Arny ( or Heather Tenore (

We would like to take this opportunity to thank our local partners: Island Thrift, Heritage Bank, Physicians of WhidbeyHealth, Corebridge, Right Systems, Skagit Radiology, Puget Sound Energy, Anesthesia Associates NW, Life Flight Network, Whidbey and Camano Island Tourism, Whidbey Telecom, Regency Whidbey, the Town of Coupeville, and the City of Oak Harbor.


The WhidbeyHealth Foundation is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization founded in 1981 to improve patient outcomes and their experience at WhidbeyHealth (tax ID: 91-1147024). For 42 years, the foundation has served as an advocate to improving the health and well-being of the community and as a financial resource to WhidbeyHealth by leveraging philanthropy. 97% of each dollar donated is used to purchase equipment, improve facilities, and enhance training for the medical team and employees. The mission of the WhidbeyHealth Foundation is to make sure WhidbeyHealth has the resources needed to provide patient-centered quality healthcare for Whidbey residents and visitors.

Stay connected with us for current information at:

WhidbeyHealth Wire 10

“Community Life Saving Award” presentation at City Council meeting

July 13, 2023

“Heroes can be found among us; ordinary individuals who rise to the occasion, demonstrating extraordinary bravery and compassion,” Matthew Buchholz, WhidbeyHealth EMT stated to the full Oak Harbor City Council chamber. “You’ve shown us the truest measure of heroism lies in the act of kindness that we extend to one another.”

On May 14, 2023, four Whidbey Island residents were presented with a dire situation and courageously acted without hesitation. Their act of heroism was publicly recognized on Tuesday, when Matthew Buchholz and Emily Harm of WhidbeyHealth EMS presented these community members with the first ever Community Life Saving Award on behalf of the Whidbey Island Paramedics IAFF Local 5133.

Four brave citizens (Brian Roberts, Seth Foster, Jennifer Carlson, and Corey Baker) found themselves on the scene of an automobile accident on SR-20 in Oak Harbor. One vehicle crossed the center line and hit another vehicle head-on. While those in the other car were not injured, the driver that crossed the line was pinned and unconscious within his vehicle as it was actively catching fire. Before EMS and Fire arrived on scene, these four community members were instrumental in prying open the door and extricating the patient to safety just moments before the car was engulfed in flames. While EMS will never encourage someone to endanger their lives, these citizens went above and beyond anything we would ever imagine having bystanders perform. As Buchholz stated to the Councilpersons, “Their acts of heroism serve as a powerful reminder that heroes are not limited to those who wear a uniform or hold official titles. Heroes can be found among us; ordinary individuals who rise to the occasion, demonstrating extraordinary bravery and compassion.”

WhidbeyHealth would like to join the Whidbey Island Paramedics IAFF Local 5133 in recognizing the bravery and selflessness of Mr. Roberts, Mr. Foster, Ms. Carlson, and Mr. Baker. Your actions inspire us all to do better.

WhidbeyHealth Launches Urology Care with Dr. Campbell Bryson


Whidbey Island Public Hospital District (WhidbeyHealth) announced the addition of Urology care to the services available to Island County residents. Urology services will be available in Coupeville on June 26, 2023.

WhidbeyHealth is excited for the addition of Urology Care to serve the residents and visitors of Whidbey Island and to announce that Campbell Bryson, MD, FRCSC will be leading the practice. Dr. Bryson received his doctorate from Cornell University and completed his residency at Yale, along with his research being featured at national and international medical conferences. He will see patients from our Surgical and Orthopedic Care office on South Main Street in Coupeville.

“For many on Whidbey Island, specialized health care needs often necessitate extended travel time to Seattle, Bellingham or other facilities along the I-5 corridor,” reflects Dr. Garth Miller, Chief Operating Officer. “Urological care becomes an increasingly important component of personal wellness as we age gracefully, making it ever so impactful that we can bring this service to our rural community.”

At WhidbeyHealth we believe everyone on Whidbey Island deserves local access to high-quality healthcare. WhidbeyHealth provides progressive, patient centric healthcare, a safety net when emergencies happen, and peace of mind knowing our team is standing by to respond to the needs of Whidbey Island residents and visitors. WhidbeyHealth is comprised of the Medical Center in Coupeville, and ten (10) outpatient clinics across Whidbey Island.

Stay connected with us for current information at:

WhidbeyHealth Wire 9

AED Training at Scatchet Head Provides Community with Vital Resource

June 7, 2023

A serene morning overlooking Cultus Bay. Sunny and breezy, with cloudless skies and framed by the faint outline of Mount Rainier in the distance. Idyllic and peaceful. For residents of Scatchet Head Community, these views come at an important cost – being the furthest away from potentially life-saving medical care.

With its proximity to the southernmost point of Whidbey Island and the Clinton-Mukilteo ferry crossing, the Scatchet Head community isn’t as accessible as you may think. As perhaps the most geographically isolated area on the island, providing the Scatchet Head community with vital resources to help support themselves until WhidbeyHealth paramedics can arrive is crucial to ensuring a successful outcome of a cardiac event. “Our community’s topography is such that we have several ‘mini’ neighborhoods that are isolated from one another,” explains Maria Reyes, Scatchet Head Community’s manager. “The average age of our community is 59 years. If someone is having a cardiac event, every minute counts. Our Emergency Response Committee partnered with WhidbeyHealth EMS’s Community AED program to install multiple AEDs (automated external defibrillators), improving the survivability of cardiac arrest patients in our community.”

June 3rd, marked the first step in making the deployment of these life-saving AEDs a reality with official community training. WhidbeyHealth Emergency Medical Services conducted robust sessions throughout the day, that included hands-on training with the defibrillator devices. EMS personnel set up multiple practice stations around the community center and provided instructions for conducting CPR and the application of the AED. “Making AEDs available to our remote communities greatly improves the chances of survival from a sudden cardiac arrest,” noted Lead Medic, Robert May. “Our job today is to provide this community with the resources and training they need to stabilize their friends and neighbors until medical services can arrive.”

The two new AEDs have been installed and are ready for use. Like other AEDs across our island communities, the two in Scatchet Head are fully accessible by residents twenty-four hours per day, seven days per week, three hundred sixty-five days per year by being installed outdoors instead of behind a non-accessible locked door.

In addition to AED training, May and the WhidbeyHealth team reviewed some of WhidbeyHealth EMS’s other community-centered trainings with the group throughout the day. SAIL (Staying Active and Independent for Life), ACT (Antidote, CPR, Tourniquet), and CABS (Child and Babysitting Safety) resources were displayed, encouraging members to engage in our other “non-emergency” services.

Sudden cardiac arrest has been described as the 3rd leading cause of death in the United States. Recognizing the signs that a person’s heart has stopped, providing chest compressions, using an automated external defibrillator are absolutely essential steps to saving a life. If defibrillated within the first minute of collapse, the victim’s chances for survival are close to ninety percent (90%), decreasing by 7-10% each minute that passes. WhidbeyHealth EMS and the WhidbeyHealth Foundation have partnered to acquire grants for these life-saving AED’s and their effective placement in our communities.

WhidbeyHealth Emergency Medical Services would like to thank the Scatchet Head Community for their partnership and engagement, as well as the WhidbeyHealth Foundation for their support in securing these life-saving devices.

WhidbeyHealth Wire 8

Top Hospice Care in State for Fourth Quarter in a Row

April 17, 2023

WhidbeyHealth Hospice Care was honored with top marks by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) earlier this year for outstanding quality of patient care and family-caregiver experience. WhidbeyHealth has been at the pinnacle of hospice care for nearly a year now – showing that rural healthcare can provide first-class care.

The federal agency recognized WhidbeyHealth Hospice in two key areas of care: quality of patient care and the family caregiver experience. The decision to award our five-star rating is in part based on Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Provider & Systems (CAHPS) surveys and self-reported data. This mix of unique rural healthcare information, combined with standardized assessment surveys resulted in WhidbeyHealth Hospice Care’s 5-Star rating – the only recipient of such a score for nearly a year in Washington.

The family-caregiver experience survey asks family members about the patient’s hospice care, and if they would recommend the program to someone else. This survey focuses on provider communication with the family, the patient receiving timely help, and treating the patient with respect and dignity. In each of the three areas, WhidbeyHealth scored 5-10 points higher than the state and national averages, with ‘Treating patients with respect and dignity’ leading the way. WhidbeyHealth Hospice Care has a truly remarkable team, and these scores show exactly why we are so highly regarded in the field of Hospice Care.

WhidbeyHealth’s commitment to quality is shown in the outstanding care our team of hospice professionals deliver each day. CMS compares hospice services using an index of 10 indicators that assess the quality of care compared to the national average, with the highest possible score being a ’10.’ WhidbeyHealth Hospice Care met or exceeded every indicator resulting in a perfect score.

WhidbeyHealth Hospice Care provides high-quality, compassionate end-of-life care for people with terminal illness. We are committed to providing highly skilled symptom management and support for the terminally il, while living their final months to the fullest. Our hospice program provides services customized to the needs of each patient, from pain and symptom management to guidance for family members and bereavement services, to specialized services such as speech therapy or music therapy. WhidbeyHealth is proud of our commitment to provide compassionate, quality care services to our island community.

Learn more about WhidbeyHealth Hospice Care on our website: or call and speak to one of our hospice care professionals today.

WhidbeyHealth Hospice Care

101 N. Main Street

Coupeville, WA 98239



WhidbeyHealth Launches Behavioral Health Care


Whidbey Island Public Hospital District (WhidbeyHealth), announces the addition of Behavioral Health care to the services available to Island County residents. Behavioral Health care will be available in Oak Harbor and Freeland on April 3, 2023.

WhidbeyHealth is excited to announce the addition of Behavioral Health care services in two locations to serve residents and visitors of Whidbey Island. The new practice will see patients from our Walk-In Clinic Oak Harbor (Goldie Rd.) and Primary Care Freeland (Harbor Ave.) offices.

“Whidbey Island has long been without adequate behavioral health care for those who need it,” shared Dr. Garth Miller, Chief Operating Officer. “After years of work we are pleased to begin offering these services to our friends, neighbors, and community.” Miller continues, “Behavioral Health is much more than treating a psychological state (mental illness), but diagnoses a patient’s physical condition and supports strategic growth and progress for treating the holistic patient.”

At WhidbeyHealth we believe everyone on Whidbey Island deserves access to high-quality healthcare. WhidbeyHealth provides progressive, patient centric healthcare, a safety net when emergencies happen, and peace of mind knowing our team is standing by 24/7 to respond to the needs of Whidbey Island residents and visitors. WhidbeyHealth is comprised of the Medical Center in Coupeville, and ten (10) outpatient clinics across Whidbey Island.

Stay connected with us for current information at:

WhidbeyHealth Board Passes Resolution to Appoint Next Chief Executive Officer


The Whidbey Island Public Hospital District (WhidbeyHealth) Board of Commissioners passed a motion today, February 16th, appointing Nathan S. Staggs succeed interim CEO Mike Layfield as the district’s Chief Executive Officer. The Board, Medical Staff and senior hospital leaders interviewed potential candidates recommended by the district’s health care management company, HealthTechS3. Mr. Staggs’ first day with the district will be March 22, 2023.

Mr. Staggs is a Hospital CEO with more than twenty (20) years of senior hospital and healthcare leadership experience, serving at hospitals in Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and Texas. Mr. Staggs will transition for two weeks with Mr. Layfield, ensuring a successful transition of strategic goals and planning – continuing the financial and customer service recovery initiatives started in 2022.

The Whidbey Island Public Hospital District’s Board of Commissioners is comprised of five (5) elected officials, representing the whole of Whidbey Island, WA. The Board is responsible for strategic direction and financial oversight of the hospital district. They meet monthly and act as liaisons between the hospital and community.

Stay connected with us for current information at:

WhidbeyHealth Wire 7

Forecasting Bright Future for WhidbeyHealth in 2023

February 17, 2023

In early 2022, WhidbeyHealth faced significant financial peril along with operational, employee, medical staff, and community confidence challenges. Throughout 2022 the medical staff, hospital administration team along with the Board of Commissioners met the challenges to establish a solid foundation for growth and success in 2023 and beyond.

WhidbeyHealth has launched its commitment to be consumer-centric with organization-wide focus on customer service and the best possible quality of care. We are taking bold steps to create a place for patients to come for care, providers to practice, employees to work and proud volunteers to support our missions.

Our evolving culture places the patient first by focusing on delighting the customer. Everything we do, every initiative we take, every factor we prioritize is based on one concept: bringing value and respect to our patients, providers and staff.

The key priorities instituted for 2023:

  • Improved patient experience and customer service at every level.
  • Continue to pay competitive wages and benefits to our employees.
  • Recruit additional talented providers and staff.
  • Ensure the financial and cash position stability of our rural health system.
  • Advancing our quality and operational process improvement.
  • Implement 24/7 virtual health services throughout WhidbeyHealth’s ecosystem.
  • Improve wait times in our Emergency Room, Walk-In Clinics and the timeliness of Primary Care appointments through provider recruitment and virtual care.
  • Launch an outpatient behavioral health program.
  • Expand Radiology services and inpatient Swing Bed services.
  • Raise awareness of the WhidbeyHealth Foundation as a source for generating donations and grants.

We want to overcome the new normal narrative of staffing shortages, long waits in the ER and clinics suffered in 2022. By embracing process changes, workforce enhancements and addressing financial challenges, we will build trust and add value to our patients. We will provide enhanced virtual care services and add professional and frontline staff to improve the patient experience at WhidbeyHealth.

In addition to the 16 new providers added in 2022, we are actively recruiting specialized medical providers for Orthopedics, Surgery, Urology, Behavioral Health, Women’s Care and Family Practice. Whidbey Island has long been without Urology Care and adequate Behavioral Health programs. We intend to change that; providing the care you need for healthy living.

Virtual Care (telemedicine) has been available for some time now, but is generally used as an alternative to traditional primary care visits. We’re not just taking it one step further but making a significant leap into its potential applications. WhidbeyHealth is poised to implement expanded telemedicine – specifically for Emergency Care, Walk-In Clinic Care and Behavioral Health. It will make a dramatic difference in our customer service experience.

We restarted our Swing Bed program in 2022, and plan to grow the capability this year. Swing Beds, simply put, continues the inpatient rehabilitation support (i.e., after an illness, injury or surgery) that can be provided at WhidbeyHealth, regardless of whether the initial care was received here or elsewhere. Patients can receive their inpatient rehabilitation, while enjoying the comfort of being close to home and family.

Additional changes we are excited to debut in 2023:

  • The Radiology department will add Fluoroscopy (similar to X-Ray or MRI, but creates real-time video movements inside the body) allowing our doctors and surgeons to improve the care they provide while improving recovery and outcomes for the patients.
  • The Radiology department will upgrade our CT with the latest technology.
  • A new and upgraded electronic medical record system will be integrated throughout WhidbeyHealth.
  • After many years of distinguished service as a commissioner, Grethe Cammermeyer resigned as a board commissioner and the Board appointed Morgan Cooper.

Accomplishing these key objectives will impact the entire healthcare experience of our patients and visitors and reinforces our motto of “delighting the customer.” We’re committed to making each visit the best part of their day. Along with providing safe, quality care through continuous improvement in all out medical service lines, we want to exceed our patients’ expectations and improve the health of our community. That is a future we can all live with.

WhidbeyHealth Wire 6

Bright Future for WhidbeyHealth Launched in 2022

February 9, 2023

Our community-based healthcare system has taken critical steps towards strengthening its financial and operational processes along with improved relations with medical providers and all supporting staff. In essence, a strong foundation was laid for our success in 2023.

In early 2022, the hospital was on the brink of closure with less than five (5) days of cash and uncertain if we could make payroll. The Medical Staff had issued a vote of ‘no confidence’ in the administrative team. We were losing professional staff and hospital employees, as financial difficulties mounted. The hospital Board of Commissioners made a bold decision in March to contract with a recognized health care management company, HealthTechS3, to lead the realignment of WhidbeyHealth’s vast ecosystem.

A new interim financial management team was established and a financial reporting system implemented, resulting in days cash on hand that has increased every month. Today we have 45 days of operating liquidity with a longer term goal of 150 days. As financial operations and medical staff relations improved, we had departed medical providers and key hospital staff return to the hospital, as well as patients. The reorganized management team partnering with the medical staff received a very significant DNV hospital reaccreditation. That successful assessment validated that the hospital and clinics are meeting high national standards for safe quality care. The DNV team’s report made specific mention of many improvement areas over 2021.

Throughout the financial restructuring and improved medical staff dialogue, the quality of care at WhidbeyHealth never waivered.

Along with DNV other national accreditations were awarded across the spectrum of care at WhidbeyHealth. Several individual services were reaccredited for safe quality care:

  • Cancer & Oncology Care
  • Diabetes Education
  • Diagnostic Imaging Services
  • Laboratory Services
  • Hospice Care
  • Sleep Care

While many other healthcare systems slashed services and struggled to stay afloat in 2022, WhidbeyHealth raised wages for its employees to achieve competitive rates for the first time in several years. While improving the financial position was clearly goal one, new services, new equipment, new providers, and a talented array of employees were added during the year.

In addition, new services included swing bed support (inpatient transition to rehabilitation services) was restarted, a new clinic patient preregistration registration system was installed, the Freeland Primary Care clinic reopened, and hospice home medication delivery service implemented.

WhidbeyHealth also welcomed new providers, expanding the number of patients we can see in different disciplines from Primary Care to Women’s Care and Wound Care.

  • Dr. Baltes
  • ARNP Badger
  • PA Brazle
  • ARNP Burckhardt
  • Dr. Cayabyab
  • PA Cunniff
  • Dr. Dannhauer
  • Dr. Engel
  • Dr. Fogarty
  • PA Gomez
  • ARNP Johnstone
  • PA Mitchell
  • Dr. Minow
  • Dr. Murphy
  • NNP Ruddell
  • NP Walchenbach

New and talented leadership was added in Human Resources, Finance, Revenue Cycle, EMS, Information Technology, and to the Board of Commissioners.

Please join us for the upcoming 7th edition of the WhidbeyHealth Wire, where we will continue our story. We are no longer looking to survive, as we enter 2023. We see our future as a thriving hospital health ecosystem driven by sound management, financially sustainable, growth, quality care, memorable customer experiences, and what the healthcare landscape on Whidbey Island should look like in 2023 and beyond.

The WhidbeyHealth Wire 5

Annual Hospital Accreditation Awarded

February 7, 2023

In November 2022, healthcare evaluators from DNV conducted a no-notice survey by the national accreditation agency. WhidbeyHealth was proud to have earned high marks in their formal assessment.

Accreditation is a formal process of self-assessment followed by review and validation from an external organization. Surveyors evaluate a hospital’s level of performance as compared to established national standards, which sets the stage for systematic continuous improvement and excellent quality of care.

Led by Executive Director of Quality & Compliance, Shanna Harney-Bates, we successfully completed reaccreditation with very few suggested changes. These ‘surveys’ involve an on-site review by the accreditation organization (DNV) which is used by most hospitals in Washington State. While the accreditation is voluntary, we requested the accreditation as part of our commitment to deliver exceptional healthcare and maintain a culture of continuous improvement.

At the close of the survey, WhidbeyHealth was found to have four minor findings that needed improvement. What were those findings? Adjustments were needed in how we monitor exhaust hoods in our kitchen, additional emergency lighting tests, documented educational training, and process improvement for provider orders.

Our surveyors conveyed an overwhelming number of compliments to share about their experiences and interactions with our employees, providers and Board of Commissioners.

WhidbeyHealth’s next survey is expected sometime in the fall of 2023. We are committed to providing highly reliable healthcare throughout our Whidbey Island community, and we welcome the opportunity to demonstrate our progress in achieving recognition for all the dedication and hard work to attain this recognition.

The WhidbeyHealth Wire 4

The New Normal in Healthcare

January 17, 2023

The new normal for Washington State hospitals is living with massive waves of new COVID-19 virus variations every few months, respiratory and flu outbreaks, long waits in our emergency rooms and clinics, financial difficulties, challenges recruiting and retaining staff, and availability of acute-care beds and post-care beds in nursing homes and other care facilities. The new normal has only served to exacerbate all these challenges.

Our emergency rooms are challenged with a new type of patient, referred to as a “boarder” – a patient held in an emergency room bed who no longer needs or qualifies to be there. These patients are waiting for transfer to a higher or lower level of care without beds available or the ability to safely relocate the patient. These patients are being held for several days, weeks, and sometimes months. Washington State has one of the lowest collective number of acute care and psychiatric beds in the nation. Occupying ER beds for extended periods of time means less access available for those needing emergency care.

There is no end in sight to the challenges of recruiting an retaining staff – doctors, nurses, and front-line personnel in healthcare across the State and Whidbey Island. The shortage of clinical professionals means that a hospital or assisted living facility being “at capacity” no longer means they are out of beds – rather they may have an excess of beds, but do not have the personnel to safely manage the care of additional patients.

A hospital may have 100 beds, but only 75 can be used due to staffing limitations. For those living along the I-5 corridor that means finding another hospital (if you can) sometimes hundreds of miles from Whidbey Island.

This is our “new normal” in healthcare. We are looking at progressive ways to ensure our patients can continue to receive the care when and where they need it, in the appropriate setting.

  • Upgrading our processes and technology to hire people more quickly, along with deploying recruitment and retention strategies.
  • Working with our congressional delegation to find funding.
  • Implementing virtual health strategies, including telemedicine for minor urgent care, available 24/7.
  • Improving through-put in our two walk-in clinics and expanding services in our newly re-opened Freeland Primary Care clinic.
  • Implementing outpatient behavioral health services both in clinic and virtual settings.
  • Introducing a new customer service program.

We strongly encourage the Whidbey community to utilize our Walk-In Clinics whenever possible. Everything we do is aimed at providing value to our patients, providers, employees, and community.

Together we will manage and improve healthcare services under the new normal, together.

Board of Commissioners Applications Open

January 4, 2023

Any persons interested in appointment to the Whidbey Island Public Hospital District’s Board of Commissioners must submit a written letter of interest as well as a professional resume.

The Board of Commissioners has five (5) seats, representing the population of Whidbey Island. Board members are considered “at large” so they are accessible to the full community and do not represent any specific geographic location. Board of Commissioner candidates can reside anywhere on Whidbey Island (within the hospital district).

For the Commissioner Application information, please visit our Board of Commissioner’s page:

APPLICANT DEADLINE: January 31, 2023 @ 5:00pm (PST)

Your Health Heroes, working for you 24/7


It’s that time of year – the holiday season. Filled with friends, family and loved ones. It’s also a time for giving.

While we enjoy the season, WhidbeyHealth would like to recognize and celebrate the gift of compassion and care that so many provide to our community and shine a light on the tremendous work being done day in and day out by our teams of care professionals. Whether inclement weather or the holidays themselves, WhidbeyHealth’s Emergency Room, Walk-In Clinics, Primary and Specialty Care Clinics, Inpatient Services (and ICU), Family Birthplace, and countless supporting departments at the Medical Center remain available to our community. These extraordinary individuals are hard at work making sure our community stays safe and healthy, while we enjoy the festivities of the season.

This winter has been particularly taxing to our healthcare system. from influenza to respiratory illnesses, COVID, and the day-to-day illnesses and accidents. Emergency Rooms and hospital beds are full across the state. As WhidbeyHealth looks toward the future and how to best serve our community in 2023, your team of local healthcare professionals have been working non-stop. Providing care when we need it the most.

On behalf of our Whidbey Island community, WhidbeyHealth would like to thank the tireless efforts of all our staff. Their dedication to local healthcare, when and where our patients need it most is remarkable and should be celebrated. Thank you for all you do for us each and every day – our providers, nurses, aides, technicians, therapists, laboratory and radiology professionals, pharmacists, house keepers, kitchen staff, and so many others! You’re providing all of us on Whidbey a healthier tomorrow.

Stay connected with us for current information at