Letters to the Editor

Franciscans aren’t ideal, but may have saved the center

This is written in response to concerns expressed in this forum regarding the transition in sponsorship of the Vashon Health Center and the range of services offered, specifically related to women’s reproductive health. I bring the perspective of having worked for health care systems nationally for almost 30 years. While I agree in principle with the concept of broad access for women’s reproductive health needs, I see this differently from other letter writers.

There are two big things:

1. No one has done well financially at the center (and this is typical of smallish office practices), as we know from the need for the Granny’s Attic subsidy. Catholic Health Initiatives/Franciscan Health (CHI/FH) has a presence here as part of their mission. They lose money here, part of why they have not-for-profit tax status.

2. If they should pull out, it is unlikely that another organization will readily sign up for a money-losing proposition (and it turns out that the state of Washington has largely faith-based health facilities, a geographic reality). Many of our basic healthcare services would vanish from the island (which many hardy souls worked hard to originally build), and we will be getting on ferries for sore throats and lacerations.

So, ideally, women could access their full range of reproductive health services on island. Ideally, I would win the lottery.

Health care is a privilege, not a right. We are not doing them a favor, they are doing us one. How would it be if we were positive and affirming with them? I’m just saying.

— Mary Frances Lyons, MD

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