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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.



Mobile COVID-19 Testing Comes to Orcas Island

Orcas Family Health Center (OFHC) delivered an early Christmas present to the Orcas community, launching a mobile SARS-COVID-19 testing project on December 21st.

Recognizing the impact COVID-19 testing was having on staff at both the OFHC and UW Orcas Clinics, leadership at OFHC sought to put funds received as part of the CARES Act to use in supporting expanded testing for the community. Securing the funding was only the first step. Launching an effort of this magnitude required some innovative thinking and support from various organizations. While health care employees in other rural areas are struggling to gain support from within their communities, we are fortunate to have an incredibly supportive community here on Orcas.

As the weather threatened to put a damper (literally) on the launch, the OFHC testing team was determined to proceed with the first test site the morning of December 21st. Along with a team of volunteers who generously dedicated their time and energy, the set-up began very early so testing was ready to go at 8 am at the Orcas Island Artworks parking lot in Olga. The volume of the first clinic exceeded expectations, and the second clinic in West Sound saw even more islanders. All in all, over the first three events the mobile clinic tested 90 islanders and family members.

The OIHCD would like to express our appreciation to everyone involved in the in-clinic and mobile clinic testing efforts. We have been fortunate to have the support of UW Orcas Clinic and OFHC, both of whom have been conducting testing in the clinics for many months. A very special thank you to Aaimee Johnson and Shila Wachtel for coming up with the idea and putting the mobile clinic project together so testing efforts could be expanded. Many thanks to Catkin Cafe, Orcas Island Artworks, the Orcas Island Yacht Club, the West Sound Community Club, and the Orcas Senior Center for allowing OFHC staff to set up testing sites on your properties. We also recognize this takes a village and couldn’t have come together so flawlessly without the help of a few special volunteers. A BIG thank you to Alan Stameisen and Robin Lassen.

Testing will continue over the next few months on a rotating basis and will remain limited to Orcas Island residents, full or part time, and their family members. No appointments are required and testing days may be cancelled last minute due to weather (e.g.. high winds, heavy rains, dangerous road conditions). Testing takes place on Monday’s in Olga from 8:00 am to 10:00 am, Thursdays in Eastsound from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm, and Sunday’s in West Sound from 12:00 pm to 2:00 pm.

As we look towards the New Year let us all be grateful for the dedication of all of our health care workers, EMS and others involved in supporting the wellbeing of the Orcas Community.

Wishing everyone a very safe and healthy 2021.

Community Briefing – a Message from the OIHCD Superintendent

Last night we held the first of what will become a regular engagement with our community. I would like to thank our partners from Island Hospital, San Juan County and Orcas Island Fire & Rescue for their participation…and a BIG THANK YOU to our community. The attendance was so overwhelming it exceeded our Zoom capacity for the first time in over 25 Zoom meetings held since April.

I would like to personally apologize to those who weren’t able to access the meeting due to the unforeseen limitation.  While I try to account for all possibilities and make these Zoom meetings a positive experience for everyone, sometimes things happen that were unexpected. I will do my best to make sure this doesn’t happen again.

While we were also experiencing technical issues all day, the good news is the meeting was recorded. While the recording stopped and then started part of the way in, all of the discussion around the new Clinic was captured. You can access the recording by clicking on the link below and then typing in the Passcode. The Island Hospital power point is also available HERE.

Share recording with viewers:

Passcode: %0aKO@*0

I look forward to continuing to bring our community timely and important information in the New Year. In the meantime, please do not hesitate to contact me if I can be of assistance. I can be reached by cell/text at 360-230-9414 or, and I always welcome your thoughts and feedback.

Wishing everyone a very safe and healthy holiday season!


Job Opening

The Orcas Island Health Care District is seeking a part-time Administrative Assistant. This position will be 10 hours/week and will report to the District Superintendent. Responsibilities may involve preparation of Board Meeting Minutes, project management, posting of information to the District website, and file management. The ideal candidate will be familiar with computer applications such Word, Excel, SharePoint, and Power Point. This is a job that requires a lot of independent work and flexibility in schedule.

For more details, including where to send information, click HERE.

COVID-19 Update

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler extended his emergency order  to Aug. 27 requiring health insurers to waive copays and deductibles for any consumer requiring testing for coronavirus (COVID-19).

Insurers also must continue:

  • Allowing a one-time early refill for prescription drugs.
  • Suspending any prior authorization requirement for treatment or testing of COVID-19.
  • In addition, if an insurer does not have enough medical providers in its network to provide testing or treatment for COVID-19, it must allow enrollees to be treated by another provider within a reasonable distance at no additional cost.

The extension is effective immediately and applies to all state-regulated health insurance plans and short-term limited duration medical plans until Aug. 27, 2020.

To read the full Press Release click HERE.

COVID-19 Resources

Late last week, the governor and secretary of health announced several updates to the Safe Start plan to help us have fewer, shorter and safer interactions with people outside our households. This includes reductions in the number of people who can be in a restaurant or fitness center at one time, and restrictions around other opportunities for gathering with other people for longer periods of time.

The most important thing you can do is reduce the amount of time you are around people outside your household. You can do that by having fewer, shorter, and safer interactions with other people. It’s still most effective for us to all stay home as much as possible. If you do go out, be sure to keep it quick, keep your distance from others, and wear your cloth face covering. Then wash your hands as soon as you get home.

Below are a few resources to help us continue to manage through this difficult period:

Washington 211 COVID-19 call center is a general information line related to COVID-19. If you need information or have a general question, call 1-800-525-0127 or text 211-211 for help. You can also text the word “Coronavirus” to 211-211 to receive information and updates on your phone wherever you are. You will receive links to the latest information on COVID-19, including county-level updates, and resources for families, businesses, students, and more.

Washington Listens helps people manage stress and anxiety they may be experiencing because of COVID-19. If you or anyone you know is having difficulties managing stress, call the Washington Listens support line at 1-833-681-0211. Hours are from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. TTY and language access services are available by using 7-1-1 or their preferred method. Resources and self-help tips are available on

Want to help? Join the Washington Mask Challenge. The Lt. Governor’s office has partnered with the United Ways of the Pacific Northwest and Serve Washington to organize a statewide homemade mask-making initiative to encourage the general public to make, wear, and donate cloth masks. Visit for information.


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