Peninsula health providers prepare for bridge shutdown

With fewer than 10 days remaining before the six-week Hood Canal bridge closure, local health care advocates are telling Olympic Peninsula residents help is only a phone call away.

Staffers at Olympic Medical Center, Forks Community Hospital and Jefferson Healthcare have developed a new, free physicians phone line to help residents find a doctor for their specific needs.

Despite the variety of services provided on the peninsula, many residents prefer to see specialists in Seattle and around Puget Sound. And while it's still possible to get to those doctors and health care centers, closing the bridge close will make it much more difficult.

"We were trying to think of what might be helpful for local patients while the bridge is closed, a one-point of contact phone number," said Rhonda Curry, assistant administrator of strategic marketing and communications at Olympic Medical Center.

"In the event that someone needs to find a local physician, we have a comprehensive list. Hopefully, it's a helpful tool."

With the one phone number (888-362-6260), residents in Clallam and Jefferson counties can find general practitioners and specialists.

Beyond the six-week bridge closure, OMC staffers will keep the phone line going if it's effective.

Some local residents see specialists from the Seattle area who visit the peninsula for one or two days. It's unclear how many of them will continue making those weekly trips.

"We were concerned - that's why we do have the number," Curry said.

"This has never been tested before. We don't know if we'll get 50 calls or 500 calls. OMC is committed to keeping this line open beyond the bridge closure if it's being well used."

Kathi Pressley, director of materials management at Olympic Medical Center, said OMC is fully stocked with medical supplies. The hospital's suppliers have done "dry runs" around Hood Canal to make sure the flow of pharmaceuticals won't be affected.

OMC also has an agreement with Kenmore Air for emergencies. Cy Frick, a pharmacist at Frick Drug in Sequim, said he's not concerned about levels of pharmaceutical stocks at his store.

"These (drug supply) companies, they may run a little late, but it's not going to be a problem," he said.

Emergency services not affected

Steve Vogel, District 3 fire chief, said fire district emergency medical services shouldn't be affected by the bridge closure.

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