A look to the future for Lopez Island medical care through the eyes of a physician

Guest post by Jim Orcutt, LIHD Commissioner

As a physician and medical school professor with a background in providing high quality and low-cost services, I would like to make the following observations about the report from the UW on progress toward assuming clinical service operations in the Lopez Medical Clinic in late Sept.

While I sit on the district board as a commissioner, I want the community to know these are just selected items from the report and are not intended to reflect the opinion of the District or other Commission Board Members as I read the update with the eyes of a physician, this is some of what I saw:

  1. Digital Radiology. Investment in digital radiology is wonderful. This will not only allow digital storage of images but also eliminate the use of film based technology with its attendant environmental implication, but will allow transmission to a radiologist with the potential for near real time reading in urgent cases. Definitely will improve the quality and timelines of care.
  2. Advanced Cardiac Life Support(ACLS) will be required of all providers and registered nursing staff. This is exceptional by my experience, typically Basic Life Support(BLS) only is required. I applaud this requirement in a rural setting where it may well be useful in emergent situations. Being an ACLS certified provider (now lapsed as am retired), I understand the implications, including the two day training, testing, certification and required recertification adding to quality of care.
  3. On site lab evaluation for some routine labs will allow near real time data for the providers. Not inexpensive but timely and improves quality.
  4. Telemedicine. While still unclear about what services will be provided, the technology has the capacity to significantly reduce the need for off island travel for some consultations. Possible services would possibly include one/one consultation (e.g. tele-psychiatry), clinical diagnosis (e.g. tele-dermatology) and management of chronic disease using store an forward technology (e.g. diabetic retinal exams). My experience is that patients like and adapt to the technology readily and will definitely improve quality and access to services for islanders.

There were other points as well, however from my view I applaud the UW for taking on such a new and exciting tasks.

Jim Orcutt, MD, PhD
Ophthalmology, Retired