Public meetings on supporting local healthcare coming soon

The Vashon-Maury Health Collaborative, which was active in trying to secure health care for the island after CHI Franciscan left, has reconvened and will hold a series of public meetings later this summer to discuss supporting primary health care on Vashon.

Neighborcare Health CEO Michael Erikson recently wrote a column for The Beachcomber, indicating the Sunrise Ridge clinic is continuing to fall short financially and will need assistance from the community to break even.

With that in mind, collaborative members John Jenkel, Tag Gornall, Annie Miksch and Tim Johnson came back together to address the challenges the island faces regarding health care.

“We need to address this in the short-and long-term,’ said Jenkel, who is a retired attorney and a Neighborcare Health board member. “In the short-term, we cannot expect them to run on a deficit forever, and long-term, we have got to find a sustainable solution. That is a community issue, not a Neighborcare issue.”

To that end, members of the collaborative are planning to hold a series of three meetings beginning late next month. The first meeting is expected to provide a chance for islanders to address problems they may have experienced with Neighborcare, Jenkel said. The second meeting will explain the economics of providing primary care on the island and include a look at how it has been done elsewhere. The third meeting will be devoted to how the island might develop a sustainable clinic.

“Hopefully we will be looking at some of the problems with fresh eyes and understand we as a community have to take an important role of taking care of ourselves,” Jenkel said, about the third meeting.

He added that the group is reaching out to other islanders with specific skill sets and experience, including fundraising, political involvement and medical administration.

The meeting dates have not been set yet, but are expected to be announced soon.

— Susan Riemer

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