Colleen Smith/staff photo
Left to right: Patty Codd, Frank James and Aaimee Johnson.

Consolidated health clinic for Orcas Island is up and running

Island Primary Care — Orcas is officially serving patients.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held on April 12 to honor the integration of UW Medicine Orcas Island Clinic and Orcas Family Health Center into one practice. Island Hospital entered into a contract with the Orcas Island Health Care District last summer to manage the endeavor.

“The energy here [on Orcas] is amazing,” said Island Hospital commissioner Jan Iversen during the celebration. She also thanked the many staff members for “working so long and hard to make this a reality.”

The clinic began serving patients in the medical center building at 7 Deye Lane in Eastsound on April 5. The following services are currently available: primary and same-day appointments, preventative care, chronic condition management, acute care, lab work, COVID-19 testing, diagnostic testing, immunizations, prenatal services and clinical nursing services. An anonymous island donor paid for a state-of-the-art x-ray machine for the facility. Future specialty care includes pediatrics, women’s services, urology services, general surgery follow-up, gastroenterology, psychiatry and behavioral health and COVID-19 vaccine clinics.

For after-hours care, once patients call the clinic they will be connected to one of five Island Hospital physicians to walk you through the next steps. Patients are asked to phone the main clinic line — 360-293-3101 — where an answering service will have a physician return your inquiry. From there, issues will be resolved via phone consult, contacting EMS or meeting an on-call doctor at the clinic.

IH Superintendent and CEO Charles Hall recognized key leaders in the project, including hospital district commissioners, district superintendent Anne Presson, Dr. David Shinstrom, IH Director of Family Care Clinics Patricia Codd, IH Chief Operating Officer Elise Cutter, Orcas Fire and Rescue and Island Air and Airlift NW.

“This has been a rewarding experience for our team,” said Hall.

San Juan County Health Officer Dr. Frank James will serve as the clinic’s medical director and see patients. Additional staff members include physician Jon Peterson, pediatrician Brandon Greene, women’s health physician Kathy Garde and physician assistants Jennifer Utter and Karen Caley-Orr. Aaimee Johnson is clinic manager, Shila Wachtel has been hired as clinic supervisor and Neisha Grams is the patient liaison. By 2022, two more physicians and PAs will be hired.

The goal is to have four full-time practitioners staffing the clinic Monday through Friday. Other staff members include four nurses, a nurse supervisor, two x-ray and lab technicians and four patient appointment coordinators.

From April to May, Island Hospital doctors Jason Hogge, Michael Gravatt and Les Conway and physician assistant Susan Jordan will be rotating through the clinic to provide leadership and patient care until the new providers are fully set up.

James extended recognition to the residents of Orcas Island.

“At the end of the day, it’s about the community. Hospital districts and clinics are the will of the community,” he said.