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Whidbey General Hospital bond in the works

Certified Nursing Assistants Brianna Wells, left, and Ashley Mangels, right, work in a room at Whidbey General Hospital. The board of directors at the hospital directed staff this week to gather information to start preparing for a new bond proposal, which will address tight inpatient occupancy. - Megan Hansen photo
Certified Nursing Assistants Brianna Wells, left, and Ashley Mangels, right, work in a room at Whidbey General Hospital. The board of directors at the hospital directed staff this week to gather information to start preparing for a new bond proposal, which will address tight inpatient occupancy.
— image credit: Megan Hansen photo

Leaders at Whidbey General Hospital are gathering information to possibly run a new bond that would pay for renovating and expanding the hospital’s Coupeville campus.

Hospital commissioner Ron Wallin proposed during Monday’s hospital board meeting that hospital administration re-evaluate a bond that taxpayers would have to approve to finance the project.

Voters in May 2011 rejected a $50 million bond proposal that would have funded construction of a new wing. Even though more than 55 percent of voters supported the proposal, it still fell short of the 60 percent supermajority needed for approval.

Wallin said Whidbey Island’s population is increasing. He added that construction would take two-to-three years to complete, which would make the medical surgical wing at the hospital nearly 50 years old.

“We have no doubts about the need for a new inpatient wing. We have the right plans and the right people in place to realize this vision,” Wallin said during the meeting. “Our community tells us in their patient satisfaction surveys that an upgrade is sorely needed.”

Wallin advocated placing a proposal on the November general election.

Commissioner Grethe Cammermeyer questioned whether there would be enough time for people to consider the bond if the bond ran in the fall. She recommended possibly holding off on such a proposal until February.

Whidbey General Hospital CEO Tom Tomasino said he doesn’t know the dollar amount yet of the proposal. He said he is going to re-examine the 2011 proposal along with researching construction costs, market conditions and housing prices to come up with a new proposal.

A volunteer group has yet to form to help promote the bond to Whidbey voters.

If voters had approved the bond in 2011, it would have paid for construction of a new wing on the south side of the hospital’s campus. That new wing would have housed 39 single-patient rooms, which would have replaced the current 34 beds housed in double rooms.

Wallin said there aren’t many details yet about the new bond, but that information will be shared with the public once the bond details become available.

“The public wants the facts and figures,” Wallin said.

 

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