PeaceHealth in Friday Harbor, Washington:
Meeting Island Health Care Needs
The Inter Island Medical Center (IIMC) was built in 1973, when the population of San Juan Island was 2,300, and it served the community well for over 30 years. By 2006, however, it was evident that the IIMC was no longer adequate to serve the much larger population, nor was it adaptable for new advances in technology and medical treatment. Furthermore, the IIMC could not continue its level of operation under the current financial model of a rural health clinic. Therefore, beginning in 2006, a group of concerned Islanders began exploring options for meeting current and future health care needs. A 2007 study determined that the IIMC could not be easily or economically upgraded. The best solution seemed to be the creation of a Critical Access Hospital (CAH), a federal designation for certified small rural health care providers. Critical Access Hospitals are eligible for cost-based reimbursement for services to Medicare patients, essential to restore financial stability to San Juan County Public Hospital District #1 (SJCPHD#1), which is responsible for health care to the community.
In order to build and operate an appropriate new facility, a relationship with a well-established mainland health care provider was needed. Of the several providers with whom discussions were held, PeaceHealth clearly had a mission, vision, and values that seemed to be particularly appropriate for the Island. The positive results of an exhaustive feasibility study led to the development and approval by the Boards of SJCPHD#1 and PeaceHealth of a 50-year contract, which provides that PeaceHealth will build and operate a new medical center for the community and that SJCPHD#1 will subsidize the contracted services to an amount not to exceed the current Inter Island Medical Center tax levies.