No easy answers in this hospital district | Letters

I am a strong proponent of letting religious organizations honor their faith. The same logic precludes a religious organization from imposing their beliefs on a secular hospital. The greatest impact is the death with dignity law.

If you have terminal cancer a PIMC physician cannot offer an opinion about how long you have to live, a disturbing raw execution of power over the patient-physician relationship.

Emergency room charges are about ten times outpatient fees. Nationally we have designed a system with perverse incentives to shunt patients to the emergency room, especially those with the lower paying policies. We should do better.

“PeaceHealth shall charge fees for its professional and technical services that are no more than those charged by like facilities in the State of Washington providing services in like circumstances.”

The commissioners were wise to place a cap on charges. A CAT scan at a private office is about $500 versus PIMC’s $2,500. The institutional goal should be to run PIMC so well that it matches the lower cost, not strive for maximum charges. The nationwide scandal is with insurance, the only people who pay the high charges are the poor and uninsured. Losses are then written off as “fake charity.” We should do better.

The aid unit was my baby from paramedics, protocols, paramedic response car, integrating EMS, sheriff and fire dispatch, trauma center, ferry priority load, medivac, etc. I am very proud of its success and those who serve.

We have unmatched stats in almost every area. When I left the aid unit, it was debt free with a saving account. We continue with a great crew and medical control, but now there are significant problems. I want this gem to be polished so bright that we can continue to crow about its exceptional nature, not just raise taxes. This will take leadership. We can do better.

The last commissioner’s relinquished oversight of PIMC as PeaceHealth appoints the board but they can exert significant influence and help facilitate improvements. These are the issues as I see them, complex and difficult, none with easy answers.

Dr. Burk Gossom

San Juan Island

Gossom is board certified in family practice and geriatrics. After about two decades at IIMC, he went into private practice, ran the County and San Juan Island EMS, became the first medical director for community mental health, and helped get the hospice group started, Medical Director at Lifecare San Juan.