July 26th, 2013

Hospital speaks to community

Dear Valued Community Resident,

About 18 months ago, Island Hospital formed a partnership with two other nonprofit community hospitals, Skagit Valley Hospital and Cascade Valley Hospital, with the mutual goal to continue to enhance the healthcare and services we provide to our patients, their families, and our communities. To help meet the goals set for our three hospitals, we are seeking a partnership with a larger health system and have asked for information from several organizations. The community benefits we are seeking from a partnership with a larger system include:

•Quality enhancement efforts that will save more lives and provide better care.

•More services in our community. This decreases the need to make long drives out of the community for services that are not available here.

•The ability to bring more physicians who are highly trained to our community, increasing the access to and quality of care.

•Access to industry-leading tools and technologies. We expect that a partnership with a larger system will allow us to enhance the medical services we provide for our community well into the future. Forming a partnership will also help our nonprofit community hospital to continue serving patients while adapting to the various challenges in healthcare. These challenges include federal healthcare reform, state budget cuts, uncompensated care, and other financial factors.

So, where are we now? We have received responses from these nonprofit health systems:

•Providence Health & Services/Swedish Medical Center

University of Washington (UW) Medicine

•PeaceHealth (St. Joseph Medical Center)

•Virginia Mason Medical Center

Since the responses were received, UW Medicine has announced a partnership with PeaceHealth. As a result, UW Medicine and PeaceHealth are being considered jointly. The hospital leadership at Skagit Valley Hospital, Cascade Valley Hospital, and Island Hospital have reviewed and discussed the responses and visited hospitals with similar partnerships. All of the organizations that responded are high-quality nonprofit health systems that would bring great benefits to our community.

We are carefully evaluating all aspects of forming a partnership with a larger health system. This includes issues related to a partnership with a faith-based health system. We expect to make a decision before the end of the summer. Once this is made, our hospital will negotiate the details of the partnership in the best interests of our community. In the meantime, we encourage you to attend a public, combined-board meeting to learn more about the process of choosing a partner. The community forum will be held at 5:00 p.m. on July 31 at:

McIntyre Hall, Skagit Valley College Campus, 2501 East College Way, Mount Vernon

If you would like more information, please visit our website at: http://www.islandhospital.org/leadership

Here you will find the responses from the four hospital systems, as well as contact information for our hospital leadership if you wish to share any comments. Thank you for your support of Island Hospital and concern for the future of healthcare in our community. As leaders of the hospital, we promise to do all we can to continually enhance our high-quality services and reduce costs for our patients.

Very Truly Yours,

C.W. “Buzz” Ely MD

President, Board of Commissioners

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About Photographer Steve Berentson

A fourth generation Skagit County native who was moved kicking and screaming from this island community in 1960. I finally reclaimed an Anacortes address in 1980, and I have been in constant celebration of my return since that time. Many of us who call Anacortes home love Fidalgo Island for its natural assets: among them are rugged beaches, pristine lakes, thousands of acres of forestland and some awesome views of the Skagit Valley and surrounding islands. Another element of my love affair with this community is its people, both natives and immigrants. They will “star” in many of my journal entries.

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