When Island Hospital announced they were terminating their long-standing lease and operating agreement for the Lopez Island Medical Clinic, there were two separate groups that were affected. The first was the family practice providers and staff. The second was the physical therapy group, which operates as an outpatient satellite of Island Hospital Physical Therapy.

When the CWMA initiated discussions to find a new partner, physical therapy was included as a service of key importance to the island. In negotiations with UW Physicians Network, there was agreement that physical therapy is an important component of the medical team. All of their other family practice clinics partner with community-based independent physical therapists, and they chose to focus their resources on primary care. While they weren’t prepared to offer employment to the physical therapists, they offered that the physical therapists could lease their same space and utilize clinic support services while operating as a separate business.

Learning this news in early May, CWMA immediately began working with Terri Drahn, Kim Foley and Bobbie Holt to evaluate ways to maintain the program in the community. Several practices in the region were contacted to learn more about options and their experiences. A budget for an independent communitybased practice was developed. The current PT space is constrained and cannot grow, and there is a need for increased services, so CWMA is also exploring leasing separate space for them.

It is likely that financial assistance will be needed to support the group, which has operated at a small loss the past two years. Unfortunately, reimbursement by government payers for physical therapy has declined by approximately 10% over that period. The physical therapists are working with CWMA and the Public Hospital District to explore what support can be provided. CWMA is assisting with transition costs. Island Hospital has agreed that physical therapy will continue as their program until the UW takes over operation of the family practice clinic in late September. It is anticipated that a plan to continue PT services will be complete by the end of June and that a successful transition will be made by the fall.