Find solution after Life Care closure | Guest Column

By John Johnson

San Juan Island

My grandparents died in the Life Care Center. It was my first experience with death and loss. It was horrible. I was in high school at the time, and nothing I had yet experienced could have prepared me for the finality of their passing. Were it not for the LCC, my mother and I would not have been with them. We would not have been able to say goodbye. My mother would not have been able to hold her parents’ hands as they departed. The loss of the LCC is a tragedy for our community. A tragedy that could and should have been prevented.

While many members of our community may have the means to travel off island for their family’s convalescent and end of life needs, many do not. It is difficult to imagine their loved ones going through their worst moments alone, without family and community support that is so vital to healing and wellbeing. Yet, that is precisely where our community members will find themselves. My family could not have managed without the compassion and support provided by the caregivers at Life Care. Now, we must look to the mainland or limited in-home care. The failure to maintain the convalescent center represents a failure to each other. We have lost a valuable resource for both medical care and employment.

The community needs to address the needs of the community. While there are many remedies to our situation, I personally support some form of taxation. I would be willing, and believe we all should be willing, to contribute as a community towards sustaining a local facility like the Life Care Center. You never know when you or a loved one may require skilled care. I hate to think that I would now have to stay off island, away from family and home for an extended period of time. That is an emotional and financial strain that none of us should have to endure. Especially those relying on Medicaid, who will now have little to no resources available.

I understand that taxes are controversial. We all work hard for our money and deserve to do with it as we please. I wouldn’t want to start a precedence for over taxation. I would certainly support alternative solutions as well. However, if it means providing something so tremendously beneficial to our community, in this case, it is worth it to me.

It has been said that you don’t know what you’ve got until its gone. Well, we are about to find out what we have lost. Can we come together in support of those in need? I hope so.