Update on the Community Long-Term Care Options Task Force

Over the last few weeks, many of you have shown concern about the limited availability of long-term care, rehabilitation and housing for our county’s aging and at-risk, or complex-care populations. This subject has reached crisis-level with the closure of Life Care Center of the San Juan Islands; a facility that has been subsidized by Life Care Centers of America for the last 20 years in order to keep it open and serving residents across the County. A thoughtful community meeting held in late September at the Mullis Community Center in Friday Harbor highlighted many of your concerns, some facts about the depth of the problem, a willingness of many to be part of a sustainable solution and some brainstorming ideas. Among these was the creation of a taskforce.

In response to this suggestion, a group of key community leaders approached Evan Perrollaz, Director of Village at the Harbour (an assisted living facility) for his experience and perspective on assembling this group. Through Evan’s leadership, and with input from some of these same people, this small task force has been assembled with a mission “to meet for a period of six months and generate 2 to 3 solution alternatives” to address the topics of skilled-nursing, long-term housing, rehabilitation, home healthcare, respite, hospice and related support systems including affordable housing and workforce development. Our goal is to clearly define our community’s needs and formulate conceptual solutions. These alternatives will be passed to relevant health and social service organizations, government agencies and policy-makers for planning and development and also to workgroups and boards to explore local ownership, oversight, and funding sources. We anticipate these processes may take several years to bring to fruition.

Members of the task force were targeted to represent a spectrum of professionals working in the related fields including senior long-term care management, hospital management, rehabilitation, nursing, hospice, home care, financial stewardship, public health and emergency medicine. This group includes:

Evan Perrollaz Director, Village at the Harbour, Chair

Kathryn Clary RN, Hospice of the Northwest, Hospice of San Juan,

Kyle Davies Paramedic, San Juan Island EMS and Member, San Juan County Board of Health

Janice Fisher Director, Life Care Center of the San Juan Islands

Beth Helstein Outreach and Volunteer Coordinator, San Juan Island Library

Pam Hutchins Superintendent, San Juan County Public Hospital District #1

Dennis King Executive Director, Lahari

Deanna Osborn Case Manager in private practice

Julia Thompson Director, Rehabilitation Services, Life Care Center of the San Juan Islands

Carrie Unpingco Executive Director, Community Foundation of San Juan Island

Beth Willaims-Gieger Director, Administrative Services, Peace Island Medical Center

To date, the group has gathered twice with the goals of defining the extent of the problem, reviewing county demographics, and exploring existing models and systems. We will continue to meet every 2-3 weeks and welcome constructive input directly or via our electronic mail address - sjitaskforce@gmail.com. We foresee the need for extensive collaboration and input across our County’s community in the months and years ahead as we form and realize this vision. Thank you for your contributions to this journey.

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