A different point of view on the PHD | Letters

Contrary to Mr. Ecklund’s assertion in his letter published in The Islands’ Sounder on Wednesday, March 28, 2018, the primary issue of the upcoming Public Hospital District election is whether we want to create a sustainable revenue stream that will enable access to primary care services for all of Orcas Island and not the inability of individuals covered by Kaiser to receive a specific referral outside the Kaiser network. That is rather a Kaiser policy issue.

It seems rather shortsighted to vote against having a sustainable revenue source for primary care services for all islanders simply because Kaiser has specific policies related to which specialists their members can see. The same issues would exist for those covered by Kaiser regardless of who the provider was at the Orcas Medical Center.

Mr. Ecklund’s assertion that the “coalition is proposing using a short- and long-term financing agreement to jump start the revenue to OMF” is also incorrect. Any monies received under our fundraising efforts have paid for the UW startup costs, Island Hospital transition costs, OMF transition and repair expenses, and to fund the documented UW operational shortfall, subject to the maximum annual funding amounts. No monies accrue to OMF. Further, it is important to note that the PHD does not have to accept the assignment of the UW Agreement unconditionally; the agreement language anticipates a good faith negotiation process.

The real issue that we are facing is there are simply not enough reliable, sustainable revenue sources to support rural health care practices. There is a choice to be made on April 24, and how you vote will have a great impact on our entire community. The choice has nothing to do with the contract between UW and OMF, but instead is a choice about whether or not we, as a community, are going to create a sustainable revenue stream, governed by elected community members, to ensure access to appropriate and needed health care services on Orcas Island.

We urge you to join us in voting yes!

Leslie Murdock

Orcas Medical Foundation President