Hospital district formation opens up more newspaper coverage

Islanders, as well as The Beachcomber, are anxious to see what the board of commissioners will do.

  • Wednesday, November 13, 2019 1:17pm
  • Opinion

The week after an election is always a time for voters to exhale and reflect on what just happened after months of hearing from candidates and campaigns in the run-up to the first Tuesday in November.

In the deadline-driven environment of newspapers, the same sort of feeling is true to a certain extent. After spending months reporting and writing — followed by staying up late on the big night to post results — there comes a time to let go and go home.

But in some ways, the election is only the beginning for reporters.

When new candidates are elected and ballot measures go into effect, it opens up doors for coverage that were not there in the past. This can certainly be said of the overwhelming vote in favor of the hospital district and the five islanders who were elected members of the board of commissioners that will oversee it. Vashon-Maury islanders don’t know what it’s like to have a hospital district and they, as well as The Beachcomber, are anxious to see what the board will do.

We do know that once the election results are certified on Nov. 26, the elected board members will hold public meetings, hire a superintendent, staff and eventually contract with a health care provider for medical care. The board will also set a levy rate on residents’ property taxes to pay for those medical services. All of these duties will open up fresh rounds of questions from the public and the press.

The Beachcomber’s duty will be to comprehensively report on the hospital district and ask the tough questions of our elected commissioners.

Here are some of the issues related to the new hospital district:

• What will the board discuss and possibly decide on at their first meeting?

• How engaged will islanders be at meetings?

• Will the commissioners be receptive to islanders’ public comments and feedback when it comes to the future of health care here?

• How well will the commissioners work together as a group?

• How much of a public face will the district’s superintendent, once hired, have compared to the commissioners?

• How will the board go about deciding which medical provider(s) should care for the island?

• What will the commissioners decide to do with the island’s primary health care provider, Neighborcare Health?

• How much of a levy rate will the board think is appropriate to pay for health care?

These are essential questions that many islanders are probably wondering right now, especially since it’s only been a little more than a week after Election Day and it has not yet been announced when the board will first meet.

The Beachcomber will cover the meeting and provide notice to islanders of when and where that meeting will take place. But that’s only the beginning as far as our coverage. The newspaper’s reporters and editor will be covering the district as long as it exists. We’re really looking forward to it!

If you have suggestions for hospital coverage, email We’d love to hear from you.

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