Journal staff report
Peace Island Medical Center received a final $2.4 million check Feb. 1 from the San Juan Island Community Foundation. The foundation’s capital construction campaign for PIMC has now raised and contributed more than $10.42 million from “hundreds” of contributors, according to the Foundation.
Peace Health, the non-profit which owns and operates PIMC and hospitals and clinics in Oregon, Washington and Alaska, has invested $20 million in the project. In addition, the San Juan County Hospital District will provide a $1 million per year subsidy for low-income health care from its property tax receipts.
The new medical center and clinic opened in November, 2012, replacing the Inter Island Medical Center. It includes an expanded clinic, a 24-hour staffed emergency room, a ten-bed critical access hospital, an advanced laboratory and diagnostic center, a surgery and a cancer and chronic disease center with chemotherapy capability.
In its first two months of operation, the emergency room has reported more than 500 visits and the diagnostic center has logged more than 400 CT and Digital X-Ray scans.
Because of PeaceHealth’s Catholic church affiliation and a potential merger with Catholic Health Initiatives, thought to be the second-largest Catholic health care group in the United States, local women’s rights activists are questioning whether the hospital district’s contractual subsidy to Peace Health violates state law and state constitutional provisions regarding reproductive and end-of-life issues.
A letter from the ACLU and an earlier letter from the recently-formed Coalition for Health Care Transparency and Equity asked that the San Juan County Public Hospital District renegotiate its contract with PeaceHealth to assure that PIMC would provide reproductive and end-of-life services even if those services would not be provided under the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services promulgated by the Roman Catholic bishops.
The hospital district responded that renegotiation would not be undertaken by the district and that all health care services previously provided by Inter Island Medical Center, including birth control, would continue to be provided by PIMC. The dispute remains unresolved, according to Monica Harrington, one of the coalition’s founders.
The hospital district has placed the former EMS building and the Inter Island Medical Center on the market. The Island Museum of Art is reportedly engaged in negotiations to purchase the now-empty EMS facility. Both buildings on Spring Street just south of Mullis Street are owned by the hospital district.