The island closed out August with a bang last week, with meetings about ferry service and health care, both of which could easily have created sinking feelings for those who attended. The problems are large for each — and, of course, there is overlap, as several times every day people head off on the ferry for medical care, in their own vehicles or in an ambulance.
While there are no apparent life rafts on the horizon, we are grateful for the community volunteers who have stepped up to contend with both problems. Greg Beardsley has served as the Vashon Ferry Advisory head seemingly forever, and he was joined by two new members just months ago. The letter they sent to Washington State Ferries about the potential schedule changes that have left many islanders aghast was professional, thoughtful and measured. We hope that Washington State Ferries will respond in a similar vein.
Members of the Vashon-Maury Health Collaborative are also working hard on addressing the island’s fragile health care picture. Tim Johnson deserves a shout out for leading last week’s (hot and jam packed) meeting with a blend of humor, compassion and efficiency. We are looking forward to hearing more from the collaborative members in the upcoming weeks.
It is unclear just how things will go in the coming months. Will WSF truly hear what the Vashon Ferry Advisory Committee has asked — and pause for awhile to do some more due diligence? And what about at Neighborcare? There is clearly a shortage of providers there; one of the questions that did not come up last Thursday is why they are not hiring any staff temporarily to help serve the needs of the island. We would like to see that happen, if at all possible.
In the mean time, we are reminded that King County is our local government, and it is in the midst of working to improve services to unincorporated areas. Either of these issues we are dealing with — ferry travel or health care — could provide excellent opportunities for assistance if we find that we need some more high-powered help. The county has seemed reluctant to enter the ferry fray, but we hope, should WSF proceed in a way that would make ferry travel even more difficult for islanders, the county would step in.
Also, it is election season. Joe Nguyen and Shannon Braddock both have said they would be coming to Vashon fairly often as they aim for state senate. Let’s not be shy about pulling up a chair and having a conversation. There is plenty to talk about. It would be good to see how closely they have been paying attention and hear what possibilities for assistance they might offer.