Update November 5:
Victory!! Thank you to everyone who participated in this campaign. It was a true neighbor-to-neighbor effort, and I appreciate everyone who hosted coffees, put up signs, wrote letters to the editor, and made your voices heard. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I look forward to serving all of my island neighbors alongside my fellow commissioners in the years to come.
I love living on San Juan Island and I care about our island community. And that’s ultimately why I decided to run. I’m thrilled that my candidacy has been endorsed by Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest, by the National Women’s Political Caucus of Washington State, by San Juan County Democrats, by the San Juan Islander, by the San Juan Journal, and most importantly, by hundreds of islanders.
The San Juan Public Hospital District (SJPHD) taxes property owners to provide health care that serves us all. I believe SJ Public Hospital District should operate in compliance with the law and support healthcare that:
- Is affordable for working islanders
- Treats patients fairly and equitably
- Ensures patients can make informed decisions about their own care, including what treatments they do and don’t want
- Meets clear performance standards
Under the law, the San Juan Public Hospital District (SJPHD) has a responsibility to provide “for the needs of the district,” not “for the needs of PeaceHealth.” The existing contract with PeaceIsland Medical Center is problematic and needs to be amended. The contract gives full discretion and 97% of all funds available (approximately $80 million in taxpayer funds) to PeaceHealth over a period of 50 years. This means that for the next five decades, PeaceHealth has the power to decide what services will be provided and to whom with our public tax dollars. As it stands, there is no mechanism for effective performance oversight.
These issues must be addressed.The American Civil Liberties Union has already warned that the contract violates the Washington State Constitution and State law. The ACLU has already filed suit against one public hospital district and sent warning letters to several others.
In my view, the SJPHD should assess the health care needs of the district on an ongoing basis and work continuously to ensure needs are being met equitably and cost-effectively. No single vendor should dictate what services are available. Some health care providers are better equipped to provide certain services than others and the allocation of tax dollars should flow from an analysis of where those dollars are best spent to improve the health of island residents.
The bottom line is we can’t continue handing all of the District’s money over to PeaceHealth every year with no accountability and no ability to provide for services that PeaceHealth either chooses not to or refuses to deliver.
Emergency services, which are supported through a separate tax levy, must also be subject to public scrutiny with ongoing accountability and transparency. Islanders have already rejected two EMS levy proposals. We need to pass an EMS levy in 2016 that is trustable and sustainable and worthy of the voters’ support. I’m prepared to work hard to make that happen.
My goal is to make our medical care more responsive to the needs of the community and I’m asking for your support.