To the Editor:
As a full-time resident of San Juan Island for 25 years, a member of the Hospital District Board in the early 1990s, and a practicing family physician at the Inter Island Medical Center from 1990 to 1997, I am happy to lend my strong endorsement to Barbara Sharp, Bill Williams, and Monica Harrington as candidates for San Juan Hospital District # 1. All three are highly accomplished and experienced in areas that would be invaluable on the Commission. They are also strong advocates for increased transparency at Peace Island Medical Center and a more active role of the Hospital District Commission in oversight of PIMC’s operations as they relate to needs of the community.
I agree with Dr. Burk Gossom that a community hospital should be dedicated to the primary care needs of its community without restrictions imposed by religious beliefs. In our present situation, we need to find ways to reallocate taxpayer dollars that are supporting PIMC to meet these needs in other ways.
The current debate over issues relating to PIMC is far more active than it was when the hospital was still on the drawing board. Then, many questions from the public were ignored and a public vote was never taken.
Useful as this debate is, however, it has been distorted by some of the candidates and their supporters. The debate is NOT about potential lawsuits against PIMC, which no candidate favors. It IS about community needs that are not being met, such as affordable access to urgent care (as opposed to emergency care), and how to provide necessary services that are currently restricted by the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Healthcare Services, eg., reproductive services and options for Death with Dignity. It is also about making use of existing taxpayer funds to provide these services.
Our 50-year contract with PIMC has brought many good things to islanders, but some changes are now clearly needed. In my view, the three candidates best qualified to make these changes are Barbara Sharp, Bill Williams, and Monica Harrington.
John Geyman, M.D