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Old 12-25-2006, 08:23 AM
 
Location: Las Vegas
92 posts, read 375,895 times
Reputation: 40

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We are strongly considering retiring in either the Olympic Peninsula or Spokane. We are looking at Sequim or Port Angeles or nearby areas however we are concerned that the medical facilities may not be completely adequate in these locations. We've been told that the hospital(s) and/or doctors can handle minor problems that arise however for anything major you must go to Seattle which requires a ferry and/or driving and at least an hour of time. Is this correct or can the facilities in the Olympic Peninsula handle every situation there? We realize that there are a lot of retirees especially in Sequim and so we are wondering if we have been ill advised regarding medical facilities or is everyone having to go to Seattle for major problems? Of course in Spokane there is no confusion about this question regarding their capacity to deal with medical situations whether minor or major.
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Old 12-25-2006, 04:38 PM
 
295 posts, read 579,180 times
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Olympic Memorial Hospital in Port Angeles is an excellent mid-sized hospital for emergency care, routine surgery and rehabilitation. The routine procedures (cancer care, dialysis, abdominal surgery e.g. gall bladder) are available locally.
Sequim is still too small to support a separate emergency center, but our fire department provides ambulance service with trained EMTs, and it is only 15 miles to the hospital. Olympic Medical Center has an imaging center and is about to open a new cancer care center in Sequim.
Forks' small hospital has a good reputation, too.

Cases demanding specialized or major trauma care anywhere in western WA will likely go to UW Harborview in Seattle. Clallam County has a population of only about 60,000, and no way can it provide enough cases to maintain a proficient neurosurgery or cardiac surgery team.
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Old 12-25-2006, 05:09 PM
 
Location: Las Vegas
92 posts, read 375,895 times
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Thank you for your input. While the Olympic Peninsula is a beautiful area that has a lot to offer retirees it appears that my co-worker was correct in that if we wanted to be near medical care that can deal with every illness and/or trauma we might consider Spokane as our place of retirement. I really needed someone to verify this to me and it appears that you did. Again, thank you for taking the time on this day to reply.
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Old 12-26-2006, 03:17 PM
 
295 posts, read 579,180 times
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I've spent weeks in Spokane hospitals with both of my parents. I have no complaints, but I do have to say that I think my mom would have gotten better care in Port Angeles, and my dad would have gotten better care in Seattle.

Over the years, I've had family and friends within the Spokane medical service area who felt they could not find the specialized medical care they needed in Spokane, and had to go to Seattle, or even California, to find it. But yes, that's rare.

Port Angeles is within 30 minutes of Seattle by air ambulance. Spokane Valley Hospital is 25 minutes from Sacred Heart by ambulance. Which is better? It's not so clear cut to me. If I ever needed it, I'd rather end up at Harborview in Seattle than any place in the Northwest.

For outpatient care, you'll certainly find more specialists in Spokane than in Port Angeles, but that's only one consideration in choosing urban vs rural areas for retirement.
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Old 12-26-2006, 06:25 PM
 
Location: Las Vegas
92 posts, read 375,895 times
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You seem to be very knowledgeable and have given us a lot to think about.

For me personally my concern runs deeper then most I would suspect only because my father was in a situation 16 years ago where he lived in a small valley that had a small hospital when he suffered a major heart attack. I never really felt that they were equipped to handle such a major situation to stabalize him and transport him to a bigger city and he ultimately died in the E.R. As we are now aging ourselves and getting ready to retire this preys on my mind very heavily and my concerns that we live in an area that can deal with something like this is of paramount importance to me.

It is quite possible under the circumstances that no matter where my father would have lived at the time the results may have been the same but in my mind I never felt his chances were as good there as they would have been in a larger hospital better equipped to handle anything.

In any event I suspect that we really need to research this far more then we have because the Olympic Peninsula has more of what we are looking for then Spokane or CDA has to offer including but not limited to a lot less snow.
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Old 12-26-2006, 10:08 PM
 
Location: We_tside PNW (Columbia Gorge) / CO / SA TX / Thailand
26,264 posts, read 44,057,305 times
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I certainly was impressed with Harrison Hospital in Bremerton, who brought my late father back to life a few times, when he was a 17 resident at the WA State Vets Home in Retsil.

Seattle is definitely Trauma Supreme, especially for cardiac care, but my retired friends in Sequim have found good urgency care as well. If you are imminently frail or overly concerned about this, you might have to re-evaluate destinations, as a feeling of security can be paramount for happiness / peace.

Of bigger concern to me would be 'extensive' acute care, such as cancer treatments. I'm not sure of capabilities in Port Angeles, but it would be tough to commute to SEA for frequent appointments.

... even within Seattle proper, the time to Haborview can exceed the air transport time from the penninsula, But their (Seattle) EMS system is staffed "Top Notch", for medical response.
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Old 12-27-2006, 08:32 AM
 
295 posts, read 579,180 times
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WtR, facts are better than anecdotal information, so I suggest looking up the "small valley hospital" that your father was at, and seeing if it is a rated trauma center. Here's what that means: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trauma_center
For comparison:
Seattle's UW Harborview is the only Level I trauma center in it's four state service area (WA/ID/MT/AK).
Spokane's Sacred Heart/Deaconess are a joint Level II trauma center.
Port Angeles' Olympic Memorial Hospital and Spokane's Valley Hospital are Level III trauma centers.
Some smaller hospitals are rated Level IV or V, and some rural hospitals have emergency rooms but are not rated trauma centers.

"In 2005 the two largest hospitals in Spokane County, DMC and SHMC (Joint Level II adult and pediatric trauma designated facilities) combined, have laid off approximately 400 staff" in a reorganization and consolidation of services.
Ref: page 44 of http://www.eastregion-ems.org/docs/Final%20DOH%20APPROVED%20Plan%209.05.pdf (broken link)

Ambulance service in both Sequim and Port Angeles is full ALS rated, staffed by EMT-paramedics 24 hrs/day, and have excellent response time (7 to 9 minutes within city limits). (ALS means Advanced Life Support, including intubation, intravenous medication, and defibrillation; for more information see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ambulance#Service_Level ). This is the same level of service you'd find in Seattle or Spokane, but with faster response time.
(Some towns are only able to offer basic or intermediate life support, with less extensively trained EMTs.)

Selecting a physician is an important thing to do when moving to a new town. I've heard that finding a primary care physician who is accepting new patients, especially medicare patients, can be difficult in Spokane. It's not a problem in Sequim; doctors seem to enjoy living here as much as we do. (Although it might have become a problem had Olympic Medical Center not stepped in and taken over when Virginia Mason pulled out of it's clinic in Port Angeles last year.) Most Medicare patients have OMC-affiliated doctors, which receive a higher Medicare reimbursement rate than physicians who are not affiliated with a hospital. This seems to help a lot.

I hope this information is helpful.

Last edited by RodFarlee; 12-27-2006 at 10:02 AM..
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Old 01-04-2007, 01:35 PM
 
1 posts, read 4,992 times
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How soon would Sequim have cancer care available? That would be oncology doctor's and chemotherapy?

Janice Ringgenberg
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Old 01-04-2007, 05:30 PM
 
295 posts, read 579,180 times
Reputation: 115
Quote:
Originally Posted by jitter1 View Post
How soon would Sequim have cancer care available? That would be oncology doctor's and chemotherapy?
The existing cancer care center in Sequim already provides that, and focussed radiation therapy.
http://www.olympicmedical.org/fac_cancerCare.html (broken link)
The new addition opening this spring adds cardiology, respiratory and diabetes programs and space for 16 doctors' offices.
http://www.olympicmedical.org/fac_construction.html (broken link)
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