Summer rush, season of change at PIMC | Guest Column

Jim Barnhart - Contributed photo
Jim Barnhart
— image credit: Contributed photo

By Jim Barnhart

The islands are buzzing with the usual seasonal activity.

The rush of tourists coming and going provides a rhythm to each day that shouts: “Summer has arrived!”

PeaceHealth Peace Island Medical Center is abuzz with activity, too. Related less to the sunny days, our increased activity is due to an expansion of service to meet islanders’ needs here at home, as well as the medical needs of our island visitors.

I’m delighted to announce that our slate of physicians is full, or will be by the end of summer.

Paul Zaveruhu, or “Doc Z” as he prefers to be called, is the first surgeon at PeaceHealth Peace Island, and we couldn’t be more pleased. Doc Z is available to provide surgical assessments, minor day surgeries and endoscopic procedures, such as colonoscopies.

Three board-certified Emergency Department physicians, Roy Graves, Jason Heiner, and Kevin Bowman have joined our team that together provides care 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

This increase in ED staff couldn’t come soon enough, as we’ve already seen plenty of summer-related accidents that require immediate attention.

Cheryl Kubisty, a board-certified internal medicine physician, has been hired to head up our inpatient hospital unit and also to work part-time in the outpatient clinic.

After more than 12 years of dedicated service to his patients and the San Juan Island community, Michael Wingren has decided to make a change. He is moving to Gig Harbor at the end of the summer to operate a private practice. His last day at PeaceHealth Peace Island will be Aug. 15.

William Gunderson has been hired to ensure clinic access for Dr. Wingren’s former patients. Dr. Gunderson is a board-certified internist who grew up in a small town, trained at Oregon Health Sciences University and has been a visitor to Friday Harbor in the past.

We’ll benefit from his expertise for six months and hope he finds the practice of medicine and living on San Juan Island satisfying and rewarding, so that he’ll stay long-term.

We’re also in the process of recruiting a family nurse practitioner to ensure plenty of access for children and teens, as well as adults. This person, whom we hope to have on board by fall, will complement the clinic team of Susan Mahoney, Rachel Bishop and newcomers Drs. Gunderson and Kubisty.

Each of these providers is highly trained and represents a concerted effort on the part of PeaceHealth Peace Island to enhance its inpatient medical care as well as adult and family medicine expertise in the clinic.

It seems health care is as much about technology as it is about people these days, and I’m proud to report that we recently purchased a state-of-the-art digital bone density X-ray machine. This machine can take full-body images to help physicians evaluate the degree of—or potential for— osteoporosis.

We’re also adding a third day for scheduling MRI scans to meet growing demand. This means more of you can stay on island for important diagnostic services.

We’ve also enhanced our availability to address common illnesses like colds, flu, fever and rashes, as well minor injuries such as sprains, back pain, minor cuts and burns. Instead of scheduled visits to our clinic on Saturdays, our walk-in urgent care service is now open Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Finally, the premier health care accrediting organization in the U.S., Det Norske Veritas, recently completed its second annual survey of PeaceHealth Peace Island to ensure that patient safety and care quality standards are met. The results of the survey were outstanding and testament to our commitment to provide the safest and best care possible.

But the high marks, new equipment and strong roster of physicians wouldn’t mean much if you—our community, our patients—were dissatisfied with the care and service at PeaceHealth Peace Island. We call it “patient experience” and we routinely survey patients to ensure that we are doing a good job.

I’m pleased to report that our most recent patient experience scores were off the charts in all areas, including overall rating and likeliness to recommend PeaceHealth Peace Island to a family member or friend.

Truly, this is the single most important benchmark for me. Thank you for your confidence in and appreciation for our wonderful team of caregivers.

Summer will be over before we know it, and the stream of visitors will narrow to a trickle. But PeaceHealth Peace Island will still be buzzing with activity, taking care of you and your family regardless of the season. Take care; stay healthy.

— Editor’s note: Jim Barnhart is chief administrative officer of Peace Island Medical Center


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