Hospital finance study to be made public May 28

How financially viable is a community hospital on San Juan Island?

Islanders will find out May 28, 5:30 p.m., at the San Juan Hospital District Commission meeting in Mullis Community Senior Center.

The commission usually meets in the Frank Wilson EMS Building but changed the venue for this meeting. "The commissioners believe a big turnout is expected due to the content of the meeting containing the proposed hospital report," said Cady Chapman Davies, hospital district recording secretary.

A local group, the San Juan Community Hospital Committee, proposes developing a community hospital on the island to offer 24-hour critical care. Proponents say such a hospital would provide many services for which islanders must now go off-island: Last year, San Juan EMS sent 343 patients off San Juan Island by air, ferry, or sheriff’s boat because they needed diagnostic evaluation or care that could not be provided on island, according to the committee.

"In just one month, June 2007, during which a typical number of patients visited (Inter Island) Medical Center, 247 patients were referred for off-island procedures and consultations in specialties including orthopedics, OB/GYN, MRI, screening colonoscopies, general surgery, pain management, CAT scans, cardiac diagnostics and care, ophthalmology and chemotherapy."

Property owners on San Juan Island currently pay a property tax to subsidize Inter Island Medical Center and San Juan EMS. A community hospital would replace Inter Island Medical Center and be supported with patient fees and property taxes. Residents of San Juan Island would pay less in patient fees than residents of other islands that would use the community hospital.

The San Juan Community Hospital Committee is not affiliated with the San Juan Hospital District Commission, although Commissioner J. Michael Edwards, a retired physician, is active with the hospital committee.

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