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Granny’s Attic funds health care needs while large expense looms

By SUSAN RIEMER
Vashon-Maury Island Beachcomber Reporter
December 24, 2013 · Updated 9:27 AM
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Granny’s Attic, which funds a variety of health-related programs on the island, awarded another round of grants this month, at the same time it is preparing for a large capital expense of its own.

The latest awards, totaling more than $30,000, were in the second grant cycle since Granny’s transitioned from focusing its support on the Vashon Health Center to providing funds for a broad array of health programs offered by island nonprofits. Granny’s members awarded fewer grants than they would have liked, according to Janet Kime, the president of the Granny’s board. Next summer, she said, Granny’s must repave its parking lot, which will cost up to $80,000, and needs to steward its funds accordingly, though members would prefer to fund health care over buying blacktop.

“It’s like spending your Christmas money on underwear,” Kime said.

Two of the grants Granny’s members approved earlier this month will go to the Franciscan Medical Clinic - Vashon Island, Kime said. In the September granting session, clinic representatives had requested funds to help with transportation expenses for its off-island staff. Granny’s turned the request down then, Kime said, believing it was not sufficiently program-related. The group reversed that decision at the request of clinic and Franciscan staff, who said they would lose clinic employees and have a hard time replacing them without the transportation assistance. Not all Granny’s members were swayed initially, Kime said.

“We had a rigorous debate at the meeting,” she added.

In the end, the members voted to fund six months of commuting expenses, which is $11,000 and half of what the grant had requested.

“This will allow time for the Franciscans time to figure out their own solution,” she said.

Granny’s also voted to provide $15,000 for a liquid nitrogen generator for the clinic. Liquid nitrogen is used to treat a variety of skin problems, including warts and pre-cancerous skin growths. Other Franciscan clinics do not have this piece of equipment, Kime said, and refer people out for such services. On Vashon, though, a referral means a ferry ride, and with this new piece of equipment, the clinic will be better able to treat patients on the island.

Scott Thompson, a spokesman for the Franciscan Health System, said both grants are appreciated. At the clinic, he noted, three-fourths of the staff come from off-island, and transportation assistance is valuable in both retaining and recruiting staff.

The liquid nitrogen generator is also helpful, he said, because it was too expensive to ship liquid nitrogen to the clinic.

“It’s obviously a service people need, and we want to continue that if we can,” he said.

Vashon Community Care (VCC) also received a grant to provide scholarships to islanders who wish to attend a program to become a certified nursing assistant (CNA) and then work at the care center, ideally for a year or longer. VCC had requested $10,000, Kime said, and Granny’s voted to provide $7,500.

Judy Beggs, the interim director at the center, said she was pleased to learn of the award.

“This is inspired by how much we love to have our CNAs come from the island,” she said.

Nationally, Beggs said, the turnover rate for CNAs is high, and while that is less true on the island, she said people do move on, and the center likes to have one or two new CNA candidates every month. To help fill their rosters, they looked for reasonably priced programs in the area and selected one in Tacoma. The grant from Granny’s Attic will make it possible for VCC to offer $600 scholarships — full tuition — as well as ferry fare for qualified candidates.

Viva, a basic needs program at Vashon Youth & Family Services (VYFS), also benefitted in this round of grants. Currently, Granny’s provides $40,000 to fund the medical voucher program, which enables uninsured low-income islanders to obtain health care from several Vashon health providers. However, the Viva program, which administers the vouchers, lost a considerable amount of its funding this year and requested $7,000 to cover the costs of the program. From the $40,000 they have already allocated, Kime said that they will allocate $3,500 for six months for this need. She also noted that Granny’s members believe they will be able to cut back funds for the voucher program in 2014 because of the Affordable Care Act, though some islanders, including undocumented immigrants, will likely still have a need for the program.

Six additional grants were tabled because of the parking lot needs, Kime said. There are drainage problems there, she said, and the lot must be dug up and repaved. Sunrise Ridge, the landlord of the property, will provide $25,000 for the project, she said, and is allocating funds to the project from its winter fundraising appeal.

Kime stressed that once that parking lot project is completed, the group will resume funding more health programs.

“We are disappointed because we had just geared up our grant program. We are disappointed we have to put the reigns on that, but it’s just temporary,” she said.

She added that she expects the program will be back to full strength by the second or third quarter of next year.

“There’s a big need and not that many sources of funds for a lot of the agencies,” she said.


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