Letters to the Editor

Writer does more than mislead in issue of maternity care | Letters

A recent "Letter to the Editor" incorrectly asserted that PeaceHealth Peace Island Medical Center has abandoned pregnant women and new mothers by not providing maternity care services.

In developing PIMC, both PeaceHealth and the hospital district took great care in deciding which services could be responsibly offered on island and which could not.

To characterize a decision not to provide a service as abandonment is wholly inaccurate and deliberately inflammatory. It does a disservice to everyone, and we’d like to set the record straight.

First of all, please be assured that PIMC Emergency Department provides emergency services for all patients, including emergency child delivery when necessary.

That said, maternity care services (e.g. obstetrics and labor and delivery services) were not provided by the InterIsland Medical Center, nor are they provided at PIMC because the number and frequency of births on San Juan Island are insufficient for a practitioner and nursing staff with specialized education and training to maintain the necessary clinical and specialized skills to ensure a safe birth.

Moreover, even if our clinicians had the specialized training and somehow found a way (through simulation training or proctoring on the mainland) to maintain the essential proficiency and skill, the hospital still couldn’t offer labor and delivery services because of the incapacity to perform an emergency C-section due to the absence of 24/7 anesthesia service and a trained surgeon credentialed to perform the operation.

As with all Critical Access Hospitals, PIMC does not offer the full spectrum of services typically found at larger hospitals. This is not abandonment; it is prudent and safe health care delivery.

While a hospital of our size cannot provide all services, including maternity and inpatient surgery, we are open round-the-clock for all islanders, providing health care and treatment to the best of our ability, with care and compassion, regardless of ability to pay.

It is our privilege to serve the San Juan Island community.

Michael Wingren, MD/PIMC medical director

Jim Barnhart/PIMC chief administrative officer


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