Change Coming to Lopez Clinic

Island Medical Clinic was notified Thursday, September 15th that Island Hospital will discontinue their contract affiliation with the clinic in nine months.

Island Hospital president Vince Oliver stated that while the hospital was no longer in a position to continue the partnership, they would commit to a transition plan to support the clinic until June 30, 2017. His announcement was made in a letter to Lopez Clinic and Marty Clark, President of the Catherine Washburn Medical Association (CWMA).

A brief history
In 1993 Lopez changed from a private practice model (Dr. Dengler was our physician at the time) to collaborate with the hospital. Here’s how it works: The CWMA, the Lopez non-profit formed to support Lopez Clinic, owns the clinic building and everything inside the walls and holds full financial responsibility for the building upkeep, maintenance, expansion and physical improvements. Island Hospital leases the building from the CWMA, pays staff salaries and assumes ultimate responsibility for medical care.

What does the change mean for Lopez Clinic?
Forging a new partnership with a larger hospital is the next step. According to Dr. Wilson and Marty Clark, conversations are already underway with interested parties.

Could we lose our clinic?
“The answer to that is no, the clinic is here to stay,” says Dr. Wilson. “There are too many good options out there, a lot of interest already being expressed. In the end, the clinic may be even better.”

Are Dr. Wilson and Nurse Practitioner Christine Burnell staying?  “Absolutely,” states Dr. Wilson.

Who might be our new partner?  According to Marty, it’s too early to talk about specifics. “We’ll let the community know as soon as there is something definite. What we can say for sure is people from other facilities want to talk to us. That’s a very good thing.”

Who is the team working on solutions?  Dr. Wilson, nurse practitioner Christine Burnell and clinic manager Crystal Rovente are working closely with the CWMA board which includes Charlie Janeway, Christa Campbell, Don Poole, Bette Shuh, Sherry Brummel, George LeBoutillier and Edwin Turmulo. Others in the community may become involved over the next few months.

How and when will we find out more?  Regular updates will be posted on the Clinic/CWMA website (, on Lopez Rocks, in Islands Weekly, and Health Matters. A printed update will be available at the clinic when more information is available.

What if people have questions? Beginning Sept. 26 there will be a place on our website homepage for people to ask questions and have them answered.

“It’s still early in the process,” concludes Marty, “and there is plenty of hard work ahead. What we do know is that Lopez has a history of making things work. With the support of the Lopez community, we will keep our clinic open and improving.”

2 thoughts on “Change Coming to Lopez Clinic”

  1. I dislike sharing only negative things but I will transgress by giving my opinion that we should not be affiliated with Peace Health. As an example, my partner had a recent cat scan done there (emergency treatment) and was charged several times what it would have cost in Anacortes. $10K v.s. less than $2K. This will not do.

    I have had thirty years of consistently excellent service from Group Health and if their recent decision to let themselves be bought by some dreadful conglomerate doesn’t change things I will continue with them. Whether there is any way for us to work more closely with GHC I do not know.

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