In response to the article in the Aug. 26 edition, I would like to share my concerns about the termination of Dr. Dave Cundiff from his position as the only primary care physician at Willapa Behavioral Health (WBH).
In the five years I have known Dr. Cundiff, I have found him to be an extraordinary physician and advocate for public health. He has a particular interest in improving the lives of marginalized groups such as those served by WBH. For decades, he has led successful national efforts toward health reform for these groups through leadership at the American Association of Public Health Physicians. He was a reliably insightful and cheerful leader on the Board of Directors at Thurston Mason County Medical Society. When he moved from Olympia to Ilwaco in 2018, Thurston County’s loss was Pacific County’s incredible gain.
Dr. Cundiff was excited about the opportunity at WBH to provide medical care to patients with behavioral health and substance use disorders. Many people with these issues have been victims of childhood trauma. They can feel misunderstood and pushed aside by society and by the medical establishment. I can imagine how appreciative WBH clients must have felt, receiving such personalized attention from Dr. Cundiff. I know of several examples where he advocated fiercely, and ultimately successfully, for patients denied life-saving medication due to insurance red tape. The partnership between him and his wife, MaryAnne Murray, the WBH psychiatric nurse practitioner, must have been a healing haven of trust and caring.
The Observer article points out that Dr. Cundiff was willing to accept reduced pay in order to continue his desired level of patient care. I am amazed that WBH is not able to make use of a physician of this caliber. If their intention is to build a behavioral healthcare setting with high-quality integrated medical care, they will not find anyone more able to meet their needs.
LUCINDA GRANDE, MD, Medical Director
Olympia Bupe Clinic at Capital Recovery Center