Doctor faces Olympic Medical Center board over role at new cancer center

PORT ANGELES — After undergoing the fiery criticism of Dr. Robert Witham and several of his supporters and patients — including Forks Mayor Nedra Reed — on Wednesday night, Olympic Medical Center commissioners said they will respond to the Port Angeles cancer specialist regarding his future role in the Sequim cancer care center.

Following the board meeting, where more than 100 packed the hospital’s Linkletter Hall, Jorgen Quistgaard, the board of commissioners’ chairman, said he expects the board will continue talks with Witham.

“I would expect there to be some response on Dr. Witham,” said commissioner Harlan Knudson.

“I would expect there to be some response, too, to the public. We’ve got to respond to the people here — if not by (the next board meeting), then the following meeting.”

Witham believes that Olympic Medical Center is unfairly freezing him out of the hospital’s Olympic Medical Cancer Center in Sequim

This, Witham said, compromises cancer patients’ ability to receive effective treatment.

Witham supporters

Several of Witham’s patients and supporters came forward after his presentation, making emotional pleas on behalf of the doctor.

Vickie Meyer of Blyn credited the doctor with rescuing her father from the hospital, saying a staff doctor had lied to her that he had consulted Witham about her father.

She said she found her father drugged and strapped down on a bed at the hospital when “I expected to see him on the edge of the bed and happy to see me.”

She said she wrote a five-page letter to the commissioners in late December expressing her complaints and received a letter back that only acknowledged her letter.

After the commissioners’ meeting, OMC Administrator Mike Glenn said he didn’t know what happened to the complaint letter — but said that it had been passed on to OMC’s medical staff executive committee.

Glenn added that what he heard during the meeting was not the way the hospital’s system was supposed to work.

Meyer said it would be “shear irresponsibility” on the board’s part to overlook Witham’s experience and reputation in the community.

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