Olympic Medical Center commissioners say local doctors will fill void in patient care once Virginia Mason clinic closes

PORT ANGELES — Olympic Medical Center Commissioner Gary Smith on Tuesday promised a solution “one way or the other” to the Virginia Mason clinic crisis by April 5.

And Commissioner Arlene Engel said local physicians will step in temporarily if an answer proves elusive.

Such a resolution looked far distant as angry Virginia Mason patients confronted commissioners at a meeting held in the Port Angeles Senior and Community Center.

About 70 people packed a recreation room Tuesday night and peppered Smith, Engel and Commissioner Jim Cammack with irate questions about who will care for patients after the Virginia Mason clinic closes April 30.

“You’re lyin’,” one man shouted at the 86-year-old Engel, the commission president, who fielded most of the questions while Smith and Cammack looked on. Another man told her to “cut the crap, lady!”

Smith’s April 5 deadline refers to commissioners’ next regular meeting, only 25 days shy of the clinic closure.

The clinic’s Seattle-based owner, Virginia Mason Medical Center, says it will lock the doors at 433 E. Eighth St. because it loses an average of $1 million a year.

While several solutions have been volleyed back and forth between Olympic Medical Center and the clinic’s physicians — who care for almost 7,000 Medicare patients — none has proved acceptable to both sides.

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