We are writing to express our strong support for the establishment of an Orcas Island Public Hospital District and Board of Commissioners, and the future levy to fund the district.
We are relative newcomers to the island. We appreciate how welcome we feel and are glad to be part of this community – more so than any other place we’ve lived. We continue to be surprised and awed by the natural and cultural assets that Orcas offers to residents and visitors.
However, the lack of a reliable health care delivery system on the island is very troubling. It is irresponsible and unsustainable to rely on the generosity of donors, and the willingness of practitioners to operate in the red, as long-term solutions for providing our primary and urgent health care. Long waits for nonemergency local appointments, time and cost incurred to go off island for care, and the frequency of medical-related airlifts are frustrations that island residents may be accustomed to. But we shouldn’t continue to accept this as the status quo when we now have the opportunity to create a viable structure for ensuring access to basic health care resources.
It is unnerving to say yes to a new taxing authority – not yet knowing who will lead it, or how much it will ask us, as property owners, to pay. Yet, without a stable funding stream, we can expect to have fewer and fewer on-island health care providers. That means some of our young families, elders, and friends and neighbors with chronic conditions will relocate – an economic and human loss for all of us. We have faith and confidence that the commissioners we elect will make wise choices to build the health care delivery infrastructure we want and deserve.
Martha and Tim Fuller