After months of drama at San Juan County Public Hospital District No. 1, things appear set to proceed on a more even keel. Three of the four new hospital commissioners - Kyle Loring, Gail Leschine-Seitz and Trish Lehman - were sworn in on Tuesday, November 26, 2019. Everett Clary, the fourth newly elected board member wasn't available to be sworn in that day.
San Juan County Superior Court Judge Kathryn Loring presides over the oath of office ceremony for new San Juan County Public Hospital District Commissioners Kyle Loring, Gail Leschine-Seitz and Trish Lehman Tuesday, November 26 in Friday Harbor. Sharon Kivisto Photo
Loring, Lehman and Clary can take their seat on the commission now as they are replacing commissioners - Dr. Appleton, Rebecca Smith and Dr. Edwards - who were appointed not elected. Leschine-Seitz will take her seat in January when Dr. Schwinge's term expires.
While the PHD's attention for the past few months has been taken up by the machinations of two board members determined to force through a contract giving administrative control of San Juan EMS over to San Juan Island Fire and Rescue Dept, encouraging words from Fire Commission Chair Bob Jarman puts an end to the forced arrangement.
In a letter, Friday, November 29, Jarman reiterated his previous statement that the Fire District will not sign the contract since it wasn't an unanimous decision of the PHD and the new PHD commissioners.
"Understanding the nuances and best practices will take time and open collaboration, which we are looking forward to having with the new commission," Jarman wrote. "As part of our previously stated commitment, we will continue to table the duly approved Interlocal Agreement (ILA) that was delivered to us by the PHD commission until such time that a broader dialog and commitment can be agreed to by both commissions."
The full text of the letter is posted below.
Honorable Board Members
San Juan Island Public Hospital District #1
849 Spring Street
Friday Harbor WA 98250
Honorable Board Members
San Juan Island Fire & Rescue Commissioners wish to congratulate the newly elected Public Hospital District Commissioners as you are sworn in and begin the learning curve working on the many opportunities and challenges facing the PHD.
One of the immediate opportunities you will be facing is how Emergency Medical Services are provided to our community. We, both commissions and leadership at the Chief and staff level, have worked diligently for months on bringing the two organizations together to best serve the community in an efficient and cost effective manner. Understanding the nuances and best practices will take time and open collaboration, which we are looking forward to having with the new commission.
As part of our previously stated commitment, we will continue to table the duly approved Interlocal Agreement (ILA) that was delivered to us by the PHD commission until such time that a broader dialog and commitment can be agreed to by both commissions. Given the turnover of the majority of the SJIPHD Commissioners, we believe it is fair and respectful for our boards to table any action until both commissions have had an opportunity to review and collaborate on the proposed ILA and path forward. All our integration efforts, including the ILA, are completely focused on the service to the community.
The history of providing core emergency services in our communities has evolved through the years. When the organizations separated in 1995, EMS was still evolving in much of the United States, San Juan County was no exception. Today, it is seen as truly comprehensive emergency services that provides the appropriate level of service regardless of incident, be it fire, medical, or otherwise. We are at a time where leadership and organizational experience can bring a level of service to the community never before realized. Past chiefs did the best they could to serve the community. Until now, there hasn’t been an experienced chief officer with both Fire and EMS services. Chief Collins and Commissioner Cardinale bring more than six decades of combined experience in large, complex emergency services organizations responding to all hazards including fire and medical incidents. We are fortunate to have Chief Collins who demonstrates the applicability of his educational background with a Master’s of Psychology specializing in Organizational Leadership and Development, Executive Fire Officer credentialing that only 10% of all Fire and EMS Chief Officers hold nationally, experiences as the chief executive of a combined emergency organization for 9 years, division chief for the largest combined emergency services organization in Oregon, and over 30 years as a dual certified fire officer and paramedic.
With this level of experience, the work your interim EMS Chief is doing and the commitment of both commissions, we can continue our work integrating emergency services into one comprehensive organization This goal is realistic and within sight.
The SJIF&R board is committed to work with the newly elected SJIPHD board to achieve the goal of providing integrated emergency response for our residents and visitors. We continue to do our work in preparation for integration, and we look forward to working into our bright future.
Chair Fire District Board of Commissioners