I’m a technology executive turned patient rights advocate. I helped start two successful technology companies (Valve, Picnik) and was a senior policy officer at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation before circumstances on San Juan Island compelled me to become a patient rights advocate. I’ve spoken around the state, and across the country on issues related to religion and health care and recently presented at an international family planning conference sponsored by the UW Law School and the UW Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology. In February 2016, I was named a University of Washington “Woman of Courage” for my work in advocating for reproductive health access.
I also have EMS experience as a seasonal National Park Service ranger at Crater Lake, where part of my responsibilities was dispatching and coordinating communications among law enforcement and emergency response teams in a geographically isolated environment with thousands of visitors daily. If you want to know more about my professional background, click here.
I first fell in love with the islands during a sailboat cruise in the mid-90s. I moved to the island full-time in 2000 after selling an ownership stake in a highly successful software business.
The reason I became a patient advocate after my “paid” career is because I know what a difference quality health care makes and what happens when patients don’t have access to the care they need.
My mother was pregnant 10 times in 12 years, and was quietly prochoice because she knew women who died from botched abortions. By the time she died in her 90s, Mom was a fierce supporter of reliable, easy access to contraception. She and I were very close and we talked often about church politics and the intersection of religion and health care.
My father was in his 50s, with eight children at home (I was only five) when he was diagnosed with metastasized melanoma. His treatment and recovery put him out of work for two years, and so my mother went to work at a local restaurant. My parents were still in debt, paying back personal loans taken out during my father’s illness, while I was a student at the University of Oregon.
When my sister was diagnosed with melanoma several years ago, I was Fran’s patient advocate through months of treatment, providing end-of-life care with the help of hospice and sleeping by her side during the final week of her life. My sister slept better during the final months of her life knowing that Oregon’s Death with Dignity Law existed, though she chose not to use it.
When I was in my early 20s, another sister’s best friend, newly pregnant, died after the physicians at the Catholic hospital she entered refused to start chemotherapy or consider pregnancy termination so she could start chemotherapy. At the time, I was in my early 20s and it made an impression.
I became deeply involved in health care issues on San Juan Island when I learned that a bishop down in Seattle tried to interfere with Planned Parenthood’s ability to provide timely, potentially life-saving (in the case of ectopic pregnancies) care to island patients.
I become more involved when I realized that the subsidy agreement between the public hospital district and PeaceHealth gave PeaceHealth $80 million and monopoly power for 50 years without a public vote and allowed for no ongoing oversight by public officials.
I decided to run for office when I realized pregnant women are still being denied prenatal care through the public hospital taxing district and that skyrocketing prices mean that working islanders are increasingly unable to afford the care that is provided.
Above all, I wholeheartedly support the Patient Bill of Rights recently adopted by the County Board of Health and will work hard to make those Rights come to life for the residents of San Juan Public Hospital Taxing District #1.