Watching the entire live-streamed public hospital district commissioners meeting on Wednesday evening, I couldn’t help but smile with satisfaction as the three most recently-elected commissioners fulfilled one of the major promises of their campaign platforms. By 3-2, they voted to approve a resolution which set in motion the exploration of partnering with Planned Parenthood to offer the sexual health and reproductive health services to islanders which PeaceHealth will not. While a future relationship between the district and Planned Parenthood is in no way guaranteed, this is a necessary first step to determine the value of services that the organization can offer to islanders for some portion of the $50,000 which is currently available.
The opponents of the resolution entreated us to look instead at the need for funding other worthy problem areas, including substance abuse and mental health. There are several problems with this. First, the $50,000 is to cover services that PeaceHealth should provide by law, but doesn’t. That includes sexual and reproductive health, but not the others. Second, as both a provider and an observer of services and funding in the area of substance abuse and mental health in the county for almost 20 years, it’s my observation that $50,000 really doesn’t go very far in addressing these problem areas. It may take us further with Planned Parenthood. Lastly, substance abuse and mental health services in the county have multiple resources for public financial support, while sexual health and reproductive services do not.
The passage of the resolution last night is an important first step to determining what, if any, should be the relationship of the district and Planned Parenthood. Kudos to those commissioners who voted for the resolution.
San Juan Island