Hospital board election has derailed conversation of hospital progress | Guest Column

By Tom Cable

Special to the Journal

For the past ten years my wife and I have worked with a group of other volunteers to bring enhanced healthcare to the island.

This effort evolved into a $30 million project, the largest ever on the island, with $20 million from PeaceHealth and $10 million from local philanthropy and not $1 from taxes. The result is PeaceHealth Peace Island Medical Center.

We are very proud of our partnership with PeaceHealth, our beautiful environmentally friendly facility, state of the art technology and, most importantly, the team of committed, compassionate professional caregivers. We need to continue to build on this progress.

A contentious hospital district election threatens to derail this progress. Three of the five positions on the board are being contested. I would like to highlight the candidates for Position 3 – Monica Harrington and Jenny Ledford.

Monica is a part-time resident of the island who for the past four years has been on a personal quest to discredit Catholic sponsored healthcare in general and PeaceHealth in particular.  She refers to PIMC as “ground zero” in this quest. Her blog, “Catholic Watch” and her numerous emails and letters are replete with false assertions and gross distortions, all disparaging to PIMC.

Monica has focused her attack on PIMC primarily by asserting that it fails to comply with the Reproductive Privacy Act and the Death With Dignity Act. (Attorneys for both PeaceHealth and the hospital district disagree with those assertions.)

While focusing on these “hot button” issues she is ignoring the broad healthcare needs of the vast majority of San Juan Island residents. She is also ignoring the accomplishments of PIMC caregivers who have saved lives, successfully treated serious injuries and illnesses, eliminated the need for more than 10,000 off-island medical trips, cut emergency medical evacuations nearly in half, and enabled over 130 cancer patients to receive multiple chemotherapy treatments close to home.

She has yet to offer one positive comment on the enormous expansion of healthcare services that PIMC has brought to the island or to acknowledge the many positive contributions of its team of caregivers. Jenny Ledford provides a stark contrast to Monica.

Jenny and her husband Richard are full time residents of the island and highly regarded, contributing members of the community.  She cares deeply about and understands the breadth of healthcare needs of the community and is focused on ensuring that both EMS and PIMC continue to be strong progressive partners in meeting those many needs.

Jenny is a very positive individual with extensive experience in helping organizations to function as teams and to work cooperatively to reach consensus in difficult situations. She is honest, straightforward and always constructive.

In this election it is essential that all candidates demonstrate understanding and concern for all aspects of community healthcare. I urge you to support Jenny Ledford who will focus on the full range of board responsibilities.

Tom Cable served as co-chair of the effort to bring better healthcare to the island and currently serves as volunteer chair of the PIMC governing board.