October 28 Lopez Clinic Partnership Update

As Lopez Clinic and CWMA explore a new partnership for the clinic, we post the newest developments to keep the community informed.  If you have a specific question, please visit our website and enter it at: www.lopezislandmedical.org/blog

In the last three weeks, we made excellent progress in the partnering process. Specifically, these steps were completed by the Clinic/CWMA team:

-Identify a list of potential partners

-Contact key administrators to introduce the clinic

-Develop a detailed 9-page information package for potential partners

-Send packages

-Host a joint meeting of the clinic staff and CWMA board to identify key priorities for a new partnership

Anticipated Timeline for Next Steps:  

In the research stage, we selected seven healthcare systems to approach; some are relatively small and local, others are large, multi-state organizations.  Due to privacy requirements, we are unable to publicize those names, but will announce the finalists in mid-November. While we know a timeline may need to be flexible, these are the dates we anticipate.

November 1:

Receive responses from potential partners


Select finalists
Public announcement of finalists
Begin negotiations with finalists

Late November/early December:

Host public information forum on Lopez


Complete negotiations
Select partner

January 1:

Begin transition


Complete transition
New partnership in place and fully operational







Frequently Asked Questions

Why did Island Hospital decide not to renew their contract with Lopez Clinic?

The Board of Commissioners stated it was due to the complexities of operating a remote clinic in the current healthcare environment. They emphasized it was a difficult decision, that they are supportive of the Lopez community and look forward to helping with the transition.

How soon will a new partnership be in place?

We don’t know exactly, but we do know Island Hospital will continue partnering with us until June 30, 2017. Dr. Wilson and Marty Clark, president of the CWMA Board, are confident that the 9-month window gives us enough time to explore new partnerships and finalize the one that serves us best.

What’s happening now?

Naturally a decision of this magnitude takes time. The Clinic and CWMA are pulling together a list of potential partners as well as compiling key data that those organizations will need from us.

Orcas Medical Clinic is also looking for a new partner. Are we working with them to find one for both islands?

The Orcas Clinic and Lopez Clinic have always served different populations and been run completely independently. There are no plans to contract together at this time.

When will we know the names of potential partners?

By mid-November we will have a better idea of who will be a good fit for us. As soon as we know, we’ll let Lopez know.

Will my care at the clinic change between now and then?

Dr. Wilson, Nurse Practitioner Christine Burnell and Clinic Manager Crystal Rovente emphasize that services and care at Lopez Clinic will continue just as they are, no changes.

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 (www.lopezislandmedical.org), 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.”