Hospital General Hospital leaders take informational route concerning bond

Whidbey General Hospital leaders are taking steps to ensure employees follow state laws during an election season where voters will decide whether to approve a $50-million bond that will finance an expansion and updating of the hospital’s campus.

That bond is appearing on the November ballot and needs to pass by a 60 percent supermajority.

Trish Rose, spokesperson for Whidbey General Hospital, said during a recent hospital commissioners’ meeting that she sent information to staff about how they can inform people of the proposal.

Staff may educate patients and the public about facts concerning the bond, but they have to promote the bond on their own time and use their own computer and resources.

A jurisdiction can present “factual and balanced” information surrounding a bond, but it can’t be promotional, said Lori Anderson, spokeswoman with the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission.

She said the hospital should dispense that information through its normal lines of communication such as a website.

It can be a fine line between informational and promotional, Anderson said. If the hospital officials do make presentations to community groups, she recommended that leaders have their facts developed first.

Rose said information outlining the specifics of the bond is available on the hospital’s website,

A volunteer group independent of the hospital, known as the Friends of Whidbey General Hospital, recently formed with the task of encouraging voters to support the bond.

If approved, the $50-million bond will fund construction of a new wing, a new parking area and a renovation that will transform the current patient wing into clinic space. The bond would cost homeowners 32 cents per $1,000 assessed property value and it would be paid off in 25 years. Property owners currently pay 9 cents per $1,000 levy that funds operations at Whidbey General Hospital.


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