Update on Emergency Services and the Lopez Clinic | Guest Column

Submitted by Dr. Bob Wilson, Marty Clark, Peggy Means, Christa Campbell and Charlie Janeway

As the team that was responsible for finding a new partner for Lopez Clinic, we would like to correct some misperceptions currently in our community.

First and foremost: Lopez will not lose emergency services under the new partnership with UW Medicine. Please rest assured that excellent emergency care will continue on Lopez. When you call 911, you will receive help from our highly skilled and well-trained Fire Department EMTs and Paramedics.

The questions that have been aired are how the clinic staff and Lopez Fire Department’s emergency personnel will work together when a patient might benefit from care at the clinic, and if Dr. Bob Wilson can continue to take phone calls from the Paramedics to provide guidance. Dr. Wilson and UW Medicine are addressing these issues in a positive and cooperative spirit. One example of progress already made: UW Medicine has agreed that ambulance patients may be taken to the clinic for treatment unless immediate helicopter transport is needed. This is new territory for UW Medicine. On the mainland and in the UW Medicine experience, an ambulance patient is not transported to a primary care clinic. UW Medicine is committed to learning what is needed and possible here. Many of the concerns raised by the Fire Department have been agreed to, others are still under discussion, but none have been dismissed.

Our current system of emergency services/clinic interaction evolved over many years and that evolution continues. All concerned have the same goal of providing the best patient care possible while adhering to Department of Health regulations. Over the next few years, we anticipate adjustments in the clinic/emergency services interaction as we learn what works best for our community. There will be ample time to work that out between UW Medicine, the fire department and the public hospital district. The process will be open to the community since all are public entities.

The Catherine Washburn Medical Association faced many difficult challenges during the process of finding a new partner. We ended the search with a partnership with UW Medicine, the premier primary care provider in the country, which will make our great clinic even better.

We request patience from all, including our emergency services partner, as we complete the transition to UW Medicine over the next eight weeks. The clinic and physical therapy staff are focused on transition work and do not need any extra pressure right now. As always, patient care and safety remain the primary concern of the clinic and the emergency services personnel.