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Celebrating National Nurses Week 2021

As today marks the start of National Nurses Week 2021, the OIHCD would like to recognize the incredible work of the Island Primary Care – Orcas clinical support team. This includes not only the Registered Nurses (RN) but the Medical Assistants (MA) and Phlebotomist.

We are very fortunate to have such a strong and dedicated team. Thank you to the individuals listed below for your commitment to excellent patient care and for the hard work you do each and every day to support the Orcas community.

RNs: Jessica Haug, Lynda Sheldahl, Susan Newkumet, and Valentina Rivera     

MAs: Alex Stephenson, Joie Lucas, Tai Carson, and Wendy Wooding

Phlebotomist: Eber Lucas

Clinic Transition & Ribbon Cutting Event

As of April 1st the transition to Island Hospital will be official and the Clinic will now be called Island Primary Care – Orcas.

On Monday, April 12th, there will be a ribbon cutting ceremony celebrating this achievement and recognizing the staff who are part of the new Clinic. Due to COVID-19 safety measures, attendance at the event will be limited to: Island Hospital leadership and local Clinic staff,  Orcas Island Health Care District Board members, the Orcas Island Chamber of Commerce, key community partners, and local media. While we are sorry the current restrictions won’t allow community members to attend in person, we will be posting photos and videos following the event.

In other important updates, Island Hospital has revised the Patient Checklist to help you navigate the next few days until the Clinic begins seeing patients on Monday, April 5th. The Checklist also provides reminders on how to transition your care to Island Primary Care – Orcas. You can access the Checklist HERE.

The OIHCD appreciates the continued support of our community. As always, we encourage anyone with questions specific to our work to contact any one of the five Commissioners or Superintendent Anne Presson.  Contact information can be found on the Contact Us page of the website.


March 18th Community Briefing – Recording is Available

We would like to thank all of the community members who spent part of your Thursday evening learning about the clinic transition. A copy of Island Hospital’s presentation can be found HERE, and the recording is available on Island Hospital’s website. You can go directly to the Orcas Clinic page on the website by clicking HERE.

In addition to the recording, be sure to review the updated Frequently Asked Questions document that can be found if you scroll down the Orcas Clinic page.

We look forward to the opening of the Island Primary Care – Orcas Clinic on Monday, April 5th!

See the source image

New Vaccine Registration Window: MONDAY MARCH 15th @ 9AM

San Juan County Health and Community Services will be opening registration for first dose vaccine appointments on Monday March 15th at 9:00am.

To read the full Press Release, which includes information on eligibility and registration, please click HERE.

Limited Vaccine Registration Window: MONDAY MARCH 8 @ 9AM

There will be a limited number of first dose appointments made available on MONDAY MARCH 8th at 9AM. There are 40 appointments for Orcas Island to be scheduled on March 12th. 

At the moment, only Phase 1a and Phase 1b Tier 1 are eligible for vaccination. If you are in an eligible group and wish to register for an appointment please visit the County website at 9AM on Monday March 8th. You can go there by clicking HERE.

Please note that the registration system has been upgraded. You will now choose a slot at the beginning of registration and then be given 15 minutes to complete your registration. If there are no appointments left, it will be clearly shown at the beginning of the process.

Vaccine Update – National Guard to bring 1900 COVID Vaccine Doses to SJC

WA National Guard Vaccine Support to SJC Week of 2/15
A joint effort between San Juan County, the Washington National Guard, and the WA Department of Health is planning to deliver 1900 first doses of the COVID vaccine over next week (Feb 15 – 19).

Approximately 380 first doses will be delivered daily: one day on Lopez and two days each on San Juan and Orcas. The team will return 28 days later to deliver second doses.

Registration for these vaccine events will open at 5pm on Wednesday February 10th. For the latest vaccine registration information, and the updated link to the registration form, please click HERE

Community Briefing

Orcas Island Community Briefing
Thursday, February 18 from 5 – 6 p.m.

Please join leaders from Orcas Island Health Care District and Island Hospital as we share the latest transition plans for the primary care clinic opening April 1, 2021.

Island Hospital’s leadership team will share insights into the staffing plans for the clinic and what you need to know as a patient. Island Hospital CEO, Charles Hall, will also provide a COVID-19 update, and others will be on hand to answer questions about the COVID vaccine efforts on Orcas.

The virtual meeting will be held Thursday, February 18, from 5 – 6 p.m. Island Hospital will be hosting via a different online platform to be able to accommodate a larger audience. Unlike former events hosted by the OIHCD via Zoom, this meeting will be held via Webex and advance registration is required.

Please RSVP at:

You will receive login information via email upon registration. 


One Month into 2021…

If you are like me, it feels like 2020 was a long time ago. Every day in the pandemic feels like a month, and getting through this first month of 2021 has felt like a year. I expect you are all feeling some of this, as the uncertainty as to when there will be adequate vaccine has likely left you anxious and weary. Our resilience is being tested…yet I know islanders are strong.

I realize that asking for patience is not what people want to hear right now, and you want the security in knowing you are on a list, in a system, somehow on a path to get the vaccine by a date certain. We all wish that was possible, and hope that in time we will get there. For now, there continues to be much higher demand than supply, and from week to week there is no guarantee what we will get in spite of what is requested. Every provider who has been approved to receive vaccine, which on Orcas is the County and OFHC, is doing their best to request supply from the State. The UW Clinic is going to be allocated a supply from within their system; however, we were told that the entire UW Medicine system did not receive a vaccine allocation last week and wasn’t expecting anything this week.

Up until now, the County has been the only vaccine provider with supply. Their online scheduling for Friday events on Orcas filled up within minutes of opening. Again, this is driven by the significant demand and very limited supply, which I know is very frustrating to everyone. As the supply allows, the County hopes to eventually conduct vaccine events on Mondays and Fridays, increasing to 200 prime/200 booster doses per week. OFHC is also hoping to start with 100 doses/week once they receive their first supply. Their preparations are underway, and they are reaching out to their patients to talk about how they will go about scheduling. The UW Clinic hopes to begin a vaccine effort on Orcas sometime the week of February 8th – 13th. They are planning to deliver 100 vaccines/week and are in the process of building a phone system to be used for scheduling. In addition, all three entities will be reaching out to patients without internet access to make sure a certain number of slots are held for those community members. Finally, Ray’s Pharmacy has started the process to become an approved vaccine provider, and once approved we’ll have another avenue for vaccine distribution.

In addition to the uncertainty about the vaccine, we recognize there is a lot of change underway in health care on Orcas. For those of you who have only started to engage following recent announcements by two UW providers, I would like to ask that you take a few minutes to read my latest update, which can be found HERE. It provides an overview of how/why we got to this point and what the future holds for our community. There are also comments from a few of the community’s most trusted leaders, and I think those are voices that are helpful to hear. As always, I am available to talk with any community member who has questions or would like to provide input.

With sincere appreciation and service to the community, Superintendent Presson



Vaccine Update – A Lesson in Patience

If there is one thing everyone can agree on as it relates to the rollout of the COVID vaccine it is that the situation is frustrating. What continues to ring true is that demand exceeds supply, and there doesn’t appear to be any quick resolution in sight.

As the community’s patience is wearing thin, please do try not to take out your frustrations on those who have been caring for you and managing the demands of this pandemic for almost a year. It is important to remember that there are a lot of smart people doing the very best they can to work within a system where the rules keep changing and one where they have no control.

Representatives from the County, OFHC, UW Medicine, Ray’s Pharmacy and OIHCD  are meeting frequently to come up with a coordinated plan to ensure the Orcas community is well served. These are the same people who have successfully guided us through the pandemic to-date, and it is largely through their efforts that we have been able to achieve such positive results.

It is no accident that San Juan County has the lowest rate of total COVID cases per 100,000 people of any county in the contiguous United States. The only counties with lower rates are the most remote areas of both Hawaii and Alaska. In addition, San Juan County is the second largest county in America to have not recorded a single COVID fatality. These statistics are exceptional when you consider the average age and overall demographics of the County. You can find more on the overall case rate information on US News and the fatality information at 24/7 Wall St.

Everyone is working as quickly as possible to find the best path forward, and the efforts will not stop until every member of our community is able to be vaccinated. Hoping we can all search within ourselves to find grace under pressure in the months ahead.

Virtual Event on January 14th: COVID-19 Vaccine

Island Hospital would like to extend an invite to the Orcas community to join an online event where a panel of hospital and provider leaders will provide updates on the COVID-19 vaccine.

Executive Community Briefing hosted by the Island Hospital Foundation

Jan 14 @ 5:00 pm – 6:00 pm

Virtual Event

Join Island Hospital providers and senior leadership for a community briefing and moderated panel discussion on the COVID-19 vaccine. We will share insights on what is known about the vaccine, including side effects and current recommendations from the CDC. We will also share the most current guidance from state, and what Skagit County officials are looking at as far as the phased distribution to the community. Questions will be taken via the chat feature during the briefing. If you have questions you’d like to submit in advance, please email them to:

Vaccine panelists will include:

Dr. Jason Hogge, Family Medicine/Obstetrics
Anacortes Family Medicine & Medical Director of the Walk In Clinic

Dr. Brandon Greene, Pediatrician 
Anacortes Family Medicine

Charles Hall, MSN, MBA
Chief Executive Officer

Elise Cutter, MBA
Chief Operating Officer

Date: Thursday, January 14, 2021
Time: 5 – 6 p.m.



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