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The citizens of Orcas Island have a new Public Hospital District. In a special ballot on April 24, they voted 77% – 23% to create the new District, which will help fund healthcare on Orcas and many surrounding islands into the future.

Public Hospital Districts are community-created, governmental entities authorized by state law to deliver health services to district residents and others in the districts’ service areas. Owned and governed by local citizens, hospital districts tailor their services to meet the unique needs of their individual communities.

The Orcas Public Hospital District will assess property tax levies on island residents to fund primary care and after-hours care on the island.

Last Tuesday’s vote also elected five commissioners, who will be responsible for adopting a budget and allocating funds to support healthcare in the District, including the UW Medicine Orcas Island Clinic.

Prior to the formation of the Hospital District, healthcare on the island relied on private donations, which left future funding uncertain. Instead, the creation of the Hospital District provides a long-term sustainable source of revenue.

Work and advocacy to create the hospital district has been going on for more than a year, led by citizen groups including the Orcas Medical Foundation, the Orcas Island Community Foundation and the Coalition for Orcas Health Care.

“This is truly great for the Orcas Island community,” said Debra Gussin, executive director of the UW Neighborhood Clinics. “We look forward to a long and successful partnership with the new Hospital District and to working together for the good health of Orcas residents.”

Lopez Island passed a similar initiative last year, which helps support the UW Medicine Lopez Island Clinic, among Lopez Island healthcare services.

There are 54 other hospital districts around the state. It’s a tool the legislature gave communities to help them better fund healthcare for their citizens. In the UW Medicine system, Valley Medical Center is also part of a Public Hospital District.






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