Vote ‘yes’ on public hospital district | Letters

I am in support of the Public Hospital District initiative that will be on our April ballot. Other than the obvious reasons for wanting a stable and enduring health care system, I have another interest in seeing the PHD pass: the effect it will have on our Orcas schools.

When you think about growing up, I’m sure you remember those doctors visits for shots, sports checkups, times when you were sick, and maybe the occasional stitches to the forehead after an unfortunate bike incident. Access to medical care is a regular, and essential, part of a healthy childhood.

There is good chance that without a tax subsidy our clinics will eventually need to close their doors. The current model is not sustainable. So, imagine if we do not have on-island medical care. Pediatric and adolescent wellness checkups and doctor’s visits for illness will require off-island visits. That’s a day off of work for a parent – and that is a day out of school for a child. Every absence, excused or unexcused, is a learning opportunity lost for that child. It can have significant impacts on a student’s academic success and social development. What happens when a parent can’t afford to take a child off-island for medical care? An illness that may have been treated quickly could linger. Absences affect the whole classroom if a teacher has to slow down learning to help children catch up. What about the parent who is unable to stay home with a sick child, and may send that child to school instead? One student with illness can spread quickly in a classroom. The issues mentioned above could multiply.

And what about teachers? If they get sick, and there is no clinical care on the island, they too will have to take time off to receive care. We need our teachers to be in the classroom.

I hope when you consider voting for the PHD, you consider that having stable, quality clinical care on island is not only good for the community, it is good for our schools. Please vote YES.

Janet Brownell

Orcas Island