The Commissioners of the OIHCD would like to thank the more than 100 members of the community who actively participated in the October 28th Town Hall meeting. It was standing room only and we appreciated everyone’s understanding of the unexpected last minute change in venue. A big thank you to Chief Williams, Jim Schuh and those at OIFR for their support, as well as Dimitri Stankevich from Orcas Center for getting the audio setup.

The Town Hall presentation is available by clicking on the 2019 Meeting Materials Tab and searching by meeting date. You’ll also find important information from the Board’s November 5th meeting where the 2020 Budget and 2020 Levy were adopted.

There is lots of activity underway and regular updates will be posted on the District website. If you provided your email at the Town Hall you will now begin receiving the Board updates. If you haven’t already done so be sure to go the Welcome page and register your email.

We are committed to staying highly engaged with the community as we continue our work and look forward to your continued interest and input.


Board Update

The Meeting Materials for the November 5th Regular meeting of the OIHCD are now posted. We look forward to seeing you at the meeting where the Superintendent will be presenting the 2020 Proposed Budget and Levy.


Board Update

You can now click on the 2019 Meeting Materials Tab to access the Agenda and presentation material for tonight’s Town Hall meeting. We hope to see you at Orcas Center tonight from 5:30 – 7:30.


Board Updates

The Agenda for the October 28th Special Board meeting has been posted. The meeting format will be Town Hall style, and the presentation will be posted on the 2019 Meeting Materials Tab early Monday morning so be sure to check back.

Please join the Board in this important discussion about the current and future state of health care on Orcas Island.

Special Meeting

The Orcas Island Health Care District (OIHCD) is hosting a Town Hall style meeting to update the community on where OIHCD stands in delivering the desired scope of health care services. This will include an overview of what is/isn’t working, and what the implications are in terms of cost, structure and services going forward. You will hear how the current structure is impacting the long-term sustainability of health care, and what the Board is doing to optimize reimbursement and provide quality, island-appropriate care. Following their overview, the Commissioners will spend the bulk of the meeting answering questions from the community.

The meeting will be held on Saturday, October 5th, from 3 – 5 pm at the Orcas Island Fire & Rescue Eastsound Firehall.

Important Health Insurance Update

The OIHCD Board understands that concerns around the availability of individual insurance is top of mind for islanders following Kaiser Permanente’s announcement they will not be offering individual or small group plans in San Juan County next year. Since learning about Kaiser’s decision, the District’s Superintendent has been staying in close contact with  Premera’s Senior Network Executive (parent of the insurance company replacing Kaiser, LifeWise Health Plan of WA) to ensure residents of San Juan County experience minimal disruption with the changes taking place as of January 1, 2020.

We now know that the new LifeWise network specific to Individual exchange plans will include ALL San Juan County providers who are currently contracted with Premera. This means both the UW Medicine Orcas Island Clinic and Orcas Family Health Center will be in-network providers.

There is more good news!

While the new LifeWise specialty network is slightly more narrow than their traditional Premera network, an exception was made to enable patients receiving care from the UW Medicine Orcas Island Clinic to be referred into UW Medicine for specialty or hospital care, and be handled as in-network. This is very positive and will allow for improved continuity and coordination for UW patients needing higher levels of care.

As far as the rest of the network, the following facilities will be in-network: Island Hospital, Providence/St Joseph, Swedish, PeaceHealth, Seattle Children’s and Skagit Regional Hospital. Those facilities that will not be in the new LifeWise network are some of the larger hospital systems and providers, primarily in King, Snohomish and Pierce Counties. They include: Multicare, Virginia Mason, Overlake Hospital, The Everett Clinic, Evergreen Hospital, UW Medicine (except for patients receiving care from the UW Medicine Orcas Island Clinics) and Seattle Cancer Care Alliance.

We are awaiting more details on the Medicare offerings for next year and will share information as it becomes available. As always, please feel free to contact the Superintendent at with questions or concerns. She can also be reached on her cell at 415.999.5611.

Health Care on Orcas at a Crossroads

Orcas Island Health Care District (District) has now been officially operational for one year. To date, our primary focus has been on establishing the District and entering into Clinical Services Agreements (CSA) to provide funding to both Orcas Family Health Center (OFHC) and UW Orcas Island Clinic (UW).

The Commissioners recognize and appreciate the efforts of employees in both clinics and their commitment to providing quality care to us all. We are fortunate to have such dedicated and professional staff at all levels. Both clinics are making continuous improvements in their operations to meet the unique needs of our island community.

In spite of the efforts underway within the clinics, as Commissioners we are currently facing increasing costs, challenges in the provision of care, and staffing issues in our existing system of two separate clinics. In particular, finding and retaining qualified staff to operate the clinics at the level of service they are committed to delivering remains problematic.

OFHC, with its many years of experience operating a clinic on an island, has continued to perform as anticipated financially. The clinic is operating under a CSA that includes providing after-hours, acute care with physical access to a provider, when deemed medically necessary.

UW, with over a year’s experience operating an on-island clinic, is not meeting their forecasted revenue numbers for the current year. In addition, UW is requesting a 45% increase in their annual funding for the 2020 fiscal year in order to deliver the broader primary and acute health care service required by an island community. UW is operating under a CSA that provides phone access only to an on-call provider, when directed by a Triage Nurse. The coverage does not include after-hours access to a physically accessible provider.

These very real challenges have pushed forward the Commissioners’ plan to take a broader look at the current system for delivering primary and acute care. We are focused on our responsibility to ensure that all islanders have access to island appropriate, high-quality primary and acute care, including after-hours care, delivered in a financially responsible and sustainable manner. Over the next few months, we will be researching and addressing issues including whether continuing to support two separate clinics is sustainable; if we are fully leveraging all potential enhanced reimbursement opportunities that are available to Rural Health Clinics such as OFHC; and what partners are the best fit for delivering island appropriate care in a financially sustainable manner.

Health care is a very personal matter for each of us. We all want the absolute best care for ourselves, our families, our fellow islanders and our visitors. The Commissioners recognize that contemplating changes may spark concern. We understand our responsibility to use taxpayer money wisely to support the best health care system for all our constituents. No changes are pre-ordained, but we feel we must be transparent with the public in acknowledging the difficulty of the current model and the necessity for a system wide review.

As we embark on this research, we will continue to seek public input in a variety of ways. We encourage you to continue to visit our website and read the very detailed Minutes of our Regular Board meetings that describe well the process of our work. We solicit public comment at each of our bi-monthly Board meetings. Contact information for all of the Commissioners and our Superintendent, Anne Presson, can be found on Contact Us page. Once we have more information to guide our decisions, we will be holding public meetings to present our findings and recommendations for a path forward and to hear public input. Excellent health care on Orcas is vital to all of us. We welcome your input as we move forward.

Meeting Materials

The Agenda and Materials for the June 4th Regular Board meeting have been See the source imageposted.


Meeting Materials

The Agenda and Meeting Materials for the May 21, 2019 Regular Meeting of the OIHCD are now available online.

See the source image



Special Meeting Notice

Please be aware that the OIHCD will be holding a Special Meeting on May 13, 2019. The Agenda has been posted and contains details on meeting time and location.


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