by Mark Fishaut, MD FAAP
The COVID pandemic has forced many aspects of daily life in rural communities such as ours into crisis mode. Exacerbating this state of affairs have been various local issues that make things even more challenging. The ferry system is an embarrassment and a risk to the Island’s welfare. Housing for potential new professionals and their families has become even more unaffordable. The Department of Health has been stretched to its limits while enduring a constant stream of abuse as well as coping with the foolish and risky behavior of some of our citizens. The Mullis Senior Center Board and its good works were threatened by an extended mean-spirited series of attacks that it was able to decisively thwart. Access to traditional primary care medical and dental care is at a precipice as a consequence of departures, death, retirements and payment gimmicks. The rancor and self-interest displayed over and over again is not what is needed in troubled times.
There are two essential institutions that have revived and thrived since the last major funding vote: the San Juan Island School District and The San Juan Island Hospital District.
The school district had gone through an extended period of ruinous management, loss of key personnel and deteriorating morale. Since the last levy, both the transitional and permanent management team and board have restored order and confidence. Their handling of education in the midst of COVID has been exemplary. It is frightening to imagine where we would be without them!
The Hospital District Board has been revitalized and becomes infinitely more accountable and transparent. They have taken the lead in working toward addressing the crisis in long-term care created by the middle-of-the-night flight of a for-profit corporation. They have cleaned out incompetent EMS management and began the difficult task of rebuilding an understaffed and undermined force that has the respect of ALL Islanders. They are beginning to confront access to care at PIMC. This all despite ongoing undermining efforts of an embittered old guard some of whom may no longer even be residents. Then there were the empire builders who were, their protestations to the contrary, defeated at the polls in both leadership and funding Finally are those who seem not to understand the “advice” is not synonymous with “acquiescence” who also have contributed to the noise like blind King Lear howling at the wind.
I encourage everyone to look past their own agenda and enthusiastically vote YES for both the School and EMS levies.