PHD should reconsider levy purposes | Letter

As islanders and as former San Juan County Public Hospital District Commissioners, we have always been committed and personally involved in the critical need of finding a way to provide long-term care for our community. Like you, we are fully committed and concerned about the importance of the care for our more elderly residents.

Since the demise of the Friday Harbor Life Care Centers of America convalescent center, our Healthcare Foundation has been involved in working to restore these services, including procuring two Federal grants and surveying the needs of our islands’ elderly residents.

The question is how does the PHD’s proposal square with the needs of our aged community in a cost-effective way to benefit as many residents as possible.

The PHD’s proposal is to double its taxes, to the tune of an additional $1.6M, to purchase the Village. This will arguably accommodate between four to six Medicaid patients, while increasing staff salaries, and with the secondary objective of establishing an at-home healthcare program. This proposal obligates the PHD to own and operate an assisted living facility, an arduous undertaking beset with pitfalls, in deference to robustly investing in-home healthcare for many more than just four to six individuals.

We would suggest the PHD pay a subsidy to the Village’s owners and operators, as is the case with Peace Island Medical Center, and let them continue to operate this facility with its medically vulnerable population.

The two Federal grants referenced earlier are only a start to allow us to understand how a better healthcare delivery model works. If the purchase of the Village is consummated the PHD will be saddled with a model of elderly care with a track record of financial failure and we taxpayers will be paying a levy in perpetuity… remember the Life Care Centers of America’s experience.

Let’s figure out how to do address this crisis and find an affordable way to serve our islands BEFORE we throw buckets of your money blindly into the abyss. PHD… we can do better.

Michael Edwards and Rebecca Smith

San Juan Island