Orcas public hospital district to be on April 2018 ballot

By Art Lange

On behalf of the all-volunteer Coalition for Orcas Healthcare and all the members of our community, thank you to the over 700 people who signed the petition to place the measure for a public hospital district on the ballot in April, 2018. The ballot measure is intended to give us all an opportunity to decide if the creation of a PHD is how we want to address the need to ensure that high quality primary/urgent care are available to everyone in a financially sustainable and predictable manner.

COHC is committed to facilitating a variety of mechanisms to enable us all to participate in a thorough public discussion regarding what a PHD would entail and how it will function. The coalition will conduct public forums and will provide information through a number of vehicles. COHC has a website https://www.coalitionfororcashealthcare.com. We are adding information regularly which we hope will answer many questions and raise others which we will do our best to answer.

It is also possible that others will create forums for discussion. We are committed to an open and transparent process where all opinions and perspectives will have equal opportunity to be expressed and where accurate information can be found easily.

The coalition recognizes that, by law, it will be the Commissioners (whom voters will elect in April, 2018) who will be responsible for determining how to allocate funds to support the delivery of medical care, how much it will cost and what the levy rate will be. At the same time, the Coalition is publicly stating that it supports four basic principles: one, all the members of our community should have access to high quality primary and urgent care (including after-hours care); two, all the existing primary/urgent care practices should be included in receiving assistance; three, it is critical that voters elect commissioners who they believe will support what they want to see the PHD do; four, a Public Hospital District is a viable way to achieve the goal of ensuring primary/urgent care for everyone.

It is our hope and expectation that as members of our community file as candidates for the five PHD commissioner positions, they will be an active part of the community discussion.

The members of our community have an opportunity to do this right. We can have a thorough discussion of all the issues so that we can all make informed decisions in April, 2018 about whether or not we believe a public hospital district is how we want to ensure primary/urgent care for our community.

This is an exciting time for our island. As citizens, we have an opportunity to address the provision of health care locally, something every one of us cares about and in which we all have a vested interest. I hope you will be an active participant in the discussions that will take place between now and April, 2018.