After listening to Dr. John Geyman's description of "troubling things" at the local hospital and hearing a report from Bill Williams, a citizen who has been conducting research, San Juan County Board of Health agreed to hold a meeting on the issue of access to healthcare.
At the suggestion of county Health Officer Dr. Frank James and Health and Community Services Director John Manning, the scope of the meeting was expanded to include access to healthcare county-wide. PIMC staff, the Hospital District Board, San Juan Healthcare, Orcas and Lopez Islands medical clinics will be invited to participate.
When asked about this, by Sharon Kivisto at Wednesday evening's hospital district meeting, both Hospital District Chair Lenore Bayuk and PIMC Jim Barnhardt said they are interested in participating.
Geyman told his fellow board members the problems at PIMC concern the lack of urgent care and staffing issues.
Williams listed some of the issues brought to him by more than 30 patients.
One example was an almost $6,000 bill for a man who had stomach pains. After a three-hour wait, he was told it wasn't appendicitis, but a CT scan would be done. In addition to the $1,000 emergency room facility charge, the man was billed $3,500 for the scan which showed nothing wrong. He was sent home with instructions to drink fluids.
Williams also told the board of a mother who left with a sick child when told the only medical care available was through the emergency room. She told Williams she couldn't afford it.
Dr. James cautioned about anecdotes and stressed the importance of hearing both sides.