Health care district board members work well together

That could go a long way in creating public buy-in for their decisions on health care services.

  • Wednesday, December 18, 2019 2:53pm
  • Opinion

Last Thursday’s Vashon Health Care District meeting at the Vashon Presbyterian Church started off with a humorous exchange between its board members.

It began when the board of commissioners’ president, Tom Langland, remarked upon calling the meeting to order that he had “no idea” how to do that, “so I’m just going to do it.” The meeting was only the second since islanders voted for a hospital district in November.

The comment prompted another commissioner, Donald Wolczko, to reply that he should have remembered to bring his gavel. Langland told him he could just “take your shoe.”

A few minutes later, Langland explained “the ground rules” of every meeting and said that as board president, he’d be responsible for “controlling the tempo” of the meetings.

“We’ll see how that goes, too,” he said. “Luckily, we’re a very friendly and like-minded group so far.”

The remark prompted commissioner Eric Pryne to interject, “we’re just getting started,” causing other board members to laugh.

“I’m sure it will be more contentious later,” Langland said.

While it’s too early to say what the future of health care for the island will look like under a public hospital district, islanders should know that in just two board meetings, the commissioners seem to like each other — and that’s no insignificant matter.

With the election behind us, many islanders — whether they voted for Proposition 1 or not — are observing the board’s meetings as a way to determine if having a hospital district was the right course of action for Vashon. If they come to believe the board members have good personal chemistry, it could go a long way in creating public buy-in for the commissioners’ decisions regarding health care services.

Those decisions include the hiring of a superintendent, the health care district’s chief administrative officer; determining, through a needs assessment, provider(s) of health care services; finding interim funding for 2020; and, later, establishing a levy rate on people’s property taxes to help pay for the cost of those services.

The commissioners’ “friendly and like-minded” mentality also appears to extend to how board meetings will be conducted. Langland told the public at the Dec. 11 gathering that the board would not adhere to “strict interpretations of Robert’s Rules of Order.”

“That’s more appropriate for what’s going on back east, or a larger group, or certainly a group where there’s not a lot of harmonies,” he said. “For now, we’ll use the elements of parliamentary procedure, but in just a kind of friendlier version.”

The somewhat formal procedure held true during the board’s public comment portion on Wednesday. Langland allowed a woman who showed up late a little more time to speak beyond what was initially allowed. Towards the end of the meeting, he allowed several other residents to speak, including one man who asked if the board would come up with a mission statement for the new hospital district.

The Dec. 11 board meeting showcased the commissioners’ fondness for one another, as well as their respect and appreciation for their constituents. There is reason to believe that all those elements translate into sound decision-making for island health care.

Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 300 words or less.

More in Opinion

On Vashon, hope comes from working together

Stories of islanders lending a hand to build a more perfect, compassionate commons give us hope.

Zen and the Art of Well Maintenance

Here is what you should do to safeguard a residential well and the island’s collective water supply.

Think of Bees Before Using Harmful Chemicals

Some insect control products have been shown to be very harmful to bees.

COVID is the ultimate wedding crasher

At least three recent weddings have taken place recently that seemed to violate restrictions

Using every tool available to fight mental health crisis

Are we as a nation prepared to prevent an increase in suicide?

Federal Way resident Bob Roegner is a former mayor of Auburn. Contact
Republican’s write-in campaign highlights post-primary intrigue | Roegner

Can former Bothell mayor beat two Democrats for lieutenant governor post?

Schools needed more input on learning plan

We wish that there had been more intensive communication and outreach to Vashon families.

Decisions behind learning plan require full board, islanders

There are better options out there that merit public discussion and consideration.

Let’s take it outside

What we cannot do is be content delivering an ineffective education to children who already struggle

Given a Daunting Task, Schools Must be Ready to Serve Every Student

But even in these crucial, final days before the start of the academic year, uncertainty abounds.

Troubling trend underscores need for making good decisions

Compared to many places, the number of island COVID-19 cases is low, but there was a surge in July.

Virtual Insanity

There is no magic bullet, but we need to figure out an equitable way for our children to learn.