Public health forum to meet Tuesday

The Vashon-Maury Health Collaborative will host a third and final community meeting from 7 to 9 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 30, at the Land Trust Building to discuss further ideas and next actions for creating sustainable health care on Vashon.

“We just can’t be without health care,” said Annie Miksch, a member of the collaborative.

The purpose of the meeting will be to continue a dialogue about Vashon’s health care needs, the cost of services and how islanders might pay for them. Neighborcare previously announced it is expecting a $350,000 deficit this year.

Miksch said that the island’s growing elderly population has been one consideration guiding the series of meetings, which have drawn crowds in recent weeks as well as Neighborcare executives. She noted that the collaborative has tried to demystify what primary care consists of while promoting the need for island ownership of whatever health care model advances on Vashon.

“The key here, I think, is sustainability,” she said, adding that other rural and unincorporated communities have faced similar circumstances and found various solutions. “We’ve been looking at those, but it really boils down to what the island wants.”

Islander Tim Johnson, who has moderated past meetings, said that one goal of the collaborative is to identify those interested in conducting further research to help prepare for needed solutions when the time comes for them. He emphasized that it is up to islanders to lead the conversation and get involved.

“Some people are coming from their own personal need. There’s a lot of people who feel vulnerable,” he said, listing perspectives ranging from those who are aging in place or have specialized needs, to those who have difficulty traveling off-island.

Johnson commended Neighborcare for its participation and pursuit of a system that both works for the island and its own bottom line, saying the difficult adjustments made at the clinic — and willingness to admit mistakes — counts for a lot.

“They genuinely came over here to be part of our community, and I’ve never gotten the sense that that has changed,” he said.

— Paul Rowley

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