Hospital district way to maintain rural health care

The vote is about our ability to partner successfully with any organization as a community.

I appreciate Alice Larson’s support in her Oct. 23 commentary, but I have come to the conclusion that a public hospital district is the way to maintain a Community Health Clinic (CHC) to serve Vashon-Maury Island. We have had three health systems and five private practices fail here, including the original Vashon Health Center. The public hospital district vote is not about Neighborcare Health; it is about our ability to partner successfully with any organization as a community.

Vashon’s population does not qualify for the traditional funding sources CHCs use. Neighborcare is familiar with all funding sources — federal, state, county and city and has pursued every possible way to support our clinic for three years. We qualified only for King County’s Best Starts for Kids, funding our school-based clinic. Our deficit is pulling from the other Neighborcare clinics that do qualify for public funds to serve the homeless, low income and immigrant populations of Seattle. This is not sustainable for Neighborcare, nor is it fair to the other communities Neighborcare serves.

While we have many who struggle financially and have homeless and immigrant community members, we have the demographics and needs profile of a rural community. We must match our health care funding and clinic to who we are to be successful. The avenue for supporting a rural CHC is a public hospital district.

I invite you to read more about the in-depth work the protect Vashon health care team has done and to contact them to give your energy and experience to the formation of our public hospital district.

There’s still time to vote yes!

— Jessica Wesch, MD

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