Sale of old Inter Island Medical Center debated

The hospital board of commissioners meeting was packed with commissioner candidate hopefuls and citizens concerned over the sale of the old Inter Island Medical Center building. More than 40 people attended the July 29 meeting, five of them providing public commentary about the sale of the building.

According to Pamela Hutchins, superintendent and secretary to the board, the resolution from the board to sell or lease the building was in March 20, 2013. The asking price for the building is $1.25 million.

Vincent Shu, an MD with Washington Institute of Natural Sciences School of Acupuncture and Herbal Medicine, requested that the board set up a special public meeting to address the sale of the building, arguing that it should be kept as a community health care center instead of being sold. Shu stated that a holistic healthcare center is needed to compliment the medical attention received at Peace Island Medical Center.

He specifically mentioned chronic illness, mental illness, chemotherapy side affects and substance abuse that holistic healthcare like acupuncture and medicinal herbs could assist with.

Shu cited a survey that WINS took of community members which found people in favor of a holistic healthcare center in the community, and its importance as a compliment or alternative to conventional medications and procedures, especially when they can be too costly for people.

In a July 29 letter to the hospital commissioners in support of Shu, islander Susea McGearhart mentioned affordability as another issue that the center would address.

“My husband and I pay taxes on four pieces of property. We are developers,” McGearhart wrote. “But we’d like to see the old Inter-Island Medical Center become a Community Health Center again, with a sliding scale so people can afford to get help when needed and not be afraid they’re going to lose their house or rental or even decide to leave the island because health care is too expensive here.”

In the meeting, executive assistant to San Juan Island Emergency Medical Services Cady Davies commented that the sale of the Inter Island Medical Center had been built in to the plans of paying off the mortgage for the new EMS building. Pamela Hutchins says that Shu has brought the issue up before, but has not yet filed the necessary proposal in order to get a special meeting.

“The vision is great and we’re so glad that people are being helped by him but in order to move forward with the RCWs, we would like him to submit a plan on how he expects to accomplish the things he set forth,” Hutchins said. “They didn’t say they would or wouldn’t have a special meeting, they said it was open to discussion if he needed one and could submit an agenda for what he wanted to accomplish in his financial and business plan.”