First Hospital District Commissioner Candidate Forum!

The race for Jefferson County Hospital District Commissioner is perhaps the most contentious ballot position open this coming fall. With three candidates, a primary will be held with ballots being shipped out on July 12th. Much is at stake, as the Hospital District is facing enormous challenges in the next few years with anticipated cutbacks by the Republican controlled Congress and President Trump. Medicare and Medicaid cuts loom, which supply a large percentage of the hospital districts’ reimbursals. So looking towards a new Hospital District Commissioner is important, as they will likely be leading work guiding the hospital administration forward in whatever changes are in store.

With those concerns in mind, that’s why a full house of approximately 20 people showed up for a Hospital District Commissioner candidate forum held by the Jefferson Citizens Healthcare Access group (CHA). CHA is a subgroup of Local2020 and is made up of concerned individuals and representatives of community groups, such as Indivisible PT Huddle, Jefferson County Health Department, The Olympic Community of Health, the hospital administration, ex-healthcare industry professionals as well as others.  These representatives were there on behalf of many dozens of other county citizens, patients and providers.

The three candidates all fielded a wide range of questions on their backgrounds, why they feel they are the right candidates, beliefs in priorities and goals for the county hospital district. The CHA group spent one and a half hours with the candidates, which gave plenty of time to let them introduce themselves to the audience and explain their positions.

All three candidates have significant backgrounds in community health issues for Jefferson County and long time involvement in the community.

Cheri Van Hoover who lives in the Chimicum area, brings the longest record of actually providing healthcare to patients, as a Registered nurse, ARNP, midwife, and mental health clinic counselor.  She also teaches healthcare policy for Philadelphia College and has written award winning articles on midwifery & women’s healthcare. She  has run several small businesses over 40 years.

Bruce McComas brings the most background in corporate management from his experience managing the mill and it’s hundreds of employees. This included working on providing healthcare for the employees. He also is currently involved in volunteer hospital committees exploring issues relevant to patient access and quality control. He was a member of the PT school board between 1993 and 2000. He was voted “Citizen of the Year” in 2008. He currently works for a management consulting firm. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemical Engineering and a Masters in Business Administration.

Bernie Donanberg brings significant mental healthcare management experience both here on the Peninsula and on the north I-5 corridor.  He has a master’s degree in psychology and worked  as a child therapist. He stated that he was bringing experience that could help with the upcoming purchase of the Discovery Behavioral Healthcare, as he has been a clinical director in the past. He expressed concern about the lack of co-location of mental health from the hospital. He is retired.

There were few surprises in the forum. Ms. Van Hoover and Mr. Donanberg expressed support for Single Payer Health Care while Mr. McComas said he supports universal healthcare. Ms Van Hoover pointed out that it was not likely to be an issue that the local Commissioners would be able to help implement a single payer system without state wide support.

Mr. Donanberg’s response to questions on his support of universal healthcare coverage was that he had questions about how  to achieve the goal given funding levels. He then suggested that we could look to implement some kind of universal funding by having the county run an “insurance pool”. Further details need to be supplied to help us understand that idea.

Ms. Van Hoover stated that she did not see a way for the county to provide this kind of funding level in some kind of insurance pool.

Mr. McComas stated he didn’t have an answer to how create Universal Coverage, and reinforced that by saying that even the best minds in politics hadn’t yet either, but he thought it could be implemented by looking to “quality improvements” as a way to lower costs.

When asked  about what he as a commissioner could bring to the table, Mr. McComas stated, “How do you do more with less.” He provided no details about what areas of the hospital might be looked at on this issue. Mr. McComas stated that he saw the role as overseeing performance, financial oversight and customer advocacy. He said that safety, quality of service and affordability were his main concerns.

Ms. Van Hoover stressed that the Commissioner role was not a management role, but a role of guidance and policy, two of her strengths.  She said that she would bring more adherence to public process and discussion on all topics. She expressed concern with the lack of public input some of the current commissioners seemed to feel was adequate.

Perhaps the biggest difference mentioned over the issue of what could be an issue added to  the Commissioners portfolio was when asked the same question Mr. Donanberg stated that he would have the Commissioners look into the issue of early childhood immunizations. He stated he does not support infant vaccinations around the time of birth, saying it was “wrong and that there are other methods of supporting immunization.” He admitted he did not immediately vaccinate his own children, but offered no scientific reasons as to why the community should support that.  The other two candidates did not  agree with that stand. It was pointed out that Jefferson County has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the State, putting us at risk of an outbreak of diseases that are addressed by vaccinations.

Concerns were raised over rising prescription costs, but no candidate really came up with a solution to it that they supported. Mr. McComas stated that “I really am not knowledgeable on this issue.” Ms. Van Hoover said that she was concerned with rising prescription costs but did not see a way to solve the problem locally. She was more concerned with a lack of prescription delivery service in the south county as a local issue that could be addressed. She wondered whether the hospital district could look into better methods of delivery of medications  with the Quilcene Clinic. Her concern was forcing patients to drive to Port Townsend to fill prescriptions. Mr. Donanberg stated that buying via the Internet and other bulk buying options existed and should be further explored.

Additional concerns were raised by Ms. Van Hoover over the ongoing lack of primary care professionals and the turnover of many in the near past. She said she would focus on working with the hospital on retention and recruitment issues. None of the other candidates addressed this issue.

When asked about the Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP), a multiyear effort by the Hospital District to set healthcare goals, only Ms. Van Hoover had input on areas that could be improved on it, which she outlined were around a potential lack of continuing efforts to reduce teen pregnancy. The county alone has done a great job at lowering teen pregnancy but not including it in CHIP goals concerned her.

Mr. McComas stated that the CHIP was “very ambitious” and that the Hospital Commissioners were only “one part” of the effort. He offered no areas of it he would change.

 

Jul. 12: Ballots mailed
Jul. 24: Deadline for in-person registration – only for those not registered in WA State
Aug. 1: Election Day (Results at 8:00 p.m.)

Web Presence/More info: 

There is no web site for Bernard Donanberg. He will rely on the voter’s pamphlet mailed to county voters in a couple of weeks.

Web site of Cheri Van Hoover – https://www.facebook.com/Cheri-Van-Hoover-for-Community-Health-1879516315656505/

Web site of Bruce McComas  –   http://brucemccomas.org/

 

Bernie Donanberg – Candidate for Hospital Commissioner – Q&A Responses

Q and A Commissioner BRUCE CHA FINAL

Q and As Commissioner CHERI – Answered

 

Smilemobile in Port Townsend

From: Karri Amundson <KAMUNDSON@deltadentalwa.com>

Subject: SMILEMOBILE COMES TO PORT TOWNSEND

Date: June 9, 2017 at 3:00:24 PM PDT

 

Good Afternoon, 

I wanted to share with you that the SmileMobile will be in your community!

We have been partnering with the health department for years to bring the van and to address the oral health needs of Port Townsend and surrounding communities.

The SmileMobile is a 3 chair mobile dental van and will be parked near the Jefferson County Health Department (parking lot) the weeks of June 19  – 23 and 26 – 30. The SmileMobile (van) is 39 ft. long with two slide outs and three dental chairs.  The dental team provides oral health education, examinations, fluoride varnish, digital x-rays (as needed), cleanings, fillings and simple extractions to babies up through high school age and pregnant/post-partum women.  We may see additional uninsured adults if the schedule allows. 

Please share the following information with all of your contacts and community organizations to assist us in recruiting and creating awareness on oral health and the importance to overall health.

I have attached our SmileMobile logo, flyers and jpgs for use in social media.

Please feel free to stop by and check out the van and meet the staff.

Warm regards,

Karri

Karri Amundson

Senior Program Officer

Washington Dental Service Foundation

9706 Fourth | Avenue NE | Seattle, WA 98115-2157

First to lose Obamacare? The sickest county in the state – Seattle Times

The Seattle Times has a good article about the outcome of the Republican led move to sow uncertainty and doubt about Obamacare’s future. Gray’s Harbor joins the growing ranks of county’s without healthcare insurance for over 2200 of it’s residents. And if the Republicans in Washington get their way, there will be over 7000 more joining them soon. Oddly, out of all this, we may end up getting single payer, due to the Republicans apparently hell bent on committing political suicide by alienating their base of white rural lower to middle class voters. 47 counties nationwide now don’t have health insurance companies serving them, most of the counties voted Republican. Read it and weep. Because counties like ours, which are largely using Medicare and Medicaid to supply us with health coverage are next up on the Republicans chopping block.

Obamacare is starting to crack, starting in our state’s sickest spot, Grays Harbor County. But the plan isn’t to fix it. It’s to make it dramatically worse.

http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/politics/first-to-lose-obamacare-the-sickest-county-in-the-state/

Three Candidates for Jefferson County Hospital Commissioner- PDN

As many of you know, the Hospital Commissioner role is in flux, with some of the commissioners who believe that the role is rather passive, with limited scope, and some with a more activist point of view, wanting to go beyond the basic job descriptions to a more community oriented point of view. With two current commissioners that are considered “activist” and two current ones that would be considered more ‘conservative’ in their approach to the role, along with one that is considered somewhere in the middle of that description, the latest candidate filings will provide a distinct contrast along these lines. Mr. McComus comes from running the Port Townsend Mill, while Mr. Donanberg  and Ms Van Hoover  are have been health care providers, among other roles in Public Health, in their careers.

Which role do you think we need as hospital commissioner in this age of Trump, where the very notion of health care as we have known it is under threat.? If anything close to the current proposals from Washington D.C.  pass, our hospital will be facing consequences that are not pleasant, and so will all of us who rely on it.

Do you favor an activist board, one willing to go beyond it’s basic job description or one that wants to stick to the job description? This election will give you an opportunity to answer that.

Today’s PDN story.

Bruce J. McComas, Bernie Donanberg and Cheri Van Hoover all filed as candidates Monday for the hospital commission position 1.

http://www.peninsuladailynews.com/politics/few-contests-emerge-as-filing-week-begins-in-jefferson-county/

 

Hospital Commissioner Tony Deleo Retires

The Port Townsend Leader is reporting that Tony Deleo has decided to step down after 44 years as Jefferson County Hospital Commissioner. This paves the way for Cheri Van Hoover to run unchallenged, but the filing deadline is still a few weeks away.

Why is this important? Given the impending changes to the health care system under Trump and the Republicans an activist board member is needed now more than ever. While Tony has done a great job over his many terms, it seems that Cheri Van Hoover is a much better fit for the needs of the public of Jefferson County today.

Thank you Tony Deleo for your service to this county! We know that you did it for the good of the community.

Cheri Van Hoover throws hat in ring for Jefferson County Hospital Commissioner

Cheri Van Hoover of District 2 has decided to run for the seat of Jefferson County Hospital Commissioner Position 1. Cheri will be running against long time Hospital Commissioner Tony DeLeo.

Cheri brings a wealth of real world medical experience to the position. She has been a working mid-wife for over 30 years, including a teacher of midwifery in the area. As a person who’s son was born with assistance from a midwife, I can attest to the value these women bring to the medical practice. Cheri has also been a counselor in a community-based mental health crisis intervention residence and an educator & health policy professor,  nationally recognized for instructing medical, nursing, and midwifery students.

Her professional leadership includes midwife practice administration, along with having been the chair of national committees for the American College of Nurse-Midwives and chair of the Ethics Task Force for Northern California Kaiser Nurse-Midwives Peer Group.

She has also run small businesses in the county, having been an owner of several small businesses spanning 40 years. Currently she owns the  Great Blue Heron’s Nest B&B, Port Hadlock.

Her community experience includes work with the Tri-Area Garden Club (past president) & Master Gardener Foundation of Jefferson County (past board member), work with salmon habitat restoration groups, volunteering with the Friends of the Jefferson County Library and the Olycap Community Thrift Store along with efforts to support the Jamestown/Sequim Drug-Free Community Coalition.

While Mr. Deleo has given a lot to the community over the years, in attending hospital commission meetings I can say that he seems out of step with the current issues facing the Commissioners. His focus on keeping the commissioners out of any areas of controversy, such as throwing their support behind single payer efforts, seems at odds with the community demands. While newer members of the Board such as Kees Kolff work to promote better community healthcare access,especially for lower income patients and have fought for more transparency to collections, along with challenging the hospital on issues such as major changes to the INR lab, Mr. Deleo has been reluctant to support these efforts. His point of view publicly appears to be that the only role of the Commissioners is to either hire or fire Mr. Glenn (the JCH CEO), and do the bare minimum needed to satisfy the requirements of the position. While we expect that the bare minimum is always achieved, it seems we need more in this era.

The challenges that this county’s hospital is going to face in the coming years under the current President and his Congress mean we need a commissioner that is going to fight for the patients and the hospital. This may mean challenging bureaucratic dogma (which is not unique to this hospital) as well as fighting hard at state and federal levels to maintain current funding and find better ways to provide healthcare for all our citizens. 

That effort needs new blood, but not just a new face, someone who understands the concerns of the medical community along with the concerns of the hospital. Every medical professional I have talked to in the last number of years have had nothing positive to say about the world we are creating of healthcare in America. We are far behind all other industrialized countries in our indices of health. Congressional meddling in our healthcare has created a system where the government doesn’t even attempt to negotiate drug prices for the spending of our tax dollars. The electronic record system is incredibly problematic for practitioners and we are moving farther and farther away from private practitioners to a system of huge regional health hubs that treat patients more and more like a number, and creating a system that has no way of properly understanding the prices you will be charged for your work. There are very few examples of corporations who treat their customers like this. For good reason.

Jefferson County Healthcare under Mr. Glenn is doing very good work overall given their resources. However there are a number of areas that could be improved, and there are independent watchdog groups that are working to prod the hospital in ways that they feel can make it more customer oriented. Cheri Van Hoover is someone who supports these efforts and will work with us to help oversee the healthcare system here, which is also one of the jobs of the Hospital Commissioners. 

For those reasons, I support Cheri Van Hoover and urge Mr. DeLeo to stand down and retire from the Board, allowing Cheri to run unopposed for this position. We thank him for his decades of support, but feel it’s time for a new approach.

You can learn more about Cheri at the following link, and donate to her campaign.

http://cheriforhealthcom.businesscatalyst.com/about-cheri.html

POINT OF VIEW: The Peninsula’s dental health emergency – PDN

By Dr. Michael Maxwell
ACROSS THE STATE and in the North Olympic Peninsula, low-income people are facing an oral health crisis.
Simply put, there are not enough clinics and providers to serve them.
In Clallam County, only 22 percent of adults on Medicaid and just 41 percent of children on Medicaid received dental care in 2015.
In the same year in Jefferson County, only 12.7 percent of adults on Medicaid and just 37 percent of children on Medicaid received dental care.
This is not a cosmetic luxury but a serious health concern that is taking a huge toll on our communities.
Many health care advocates are urging our state Legislature to address this crisis.
 
Read the rest of the story at:
Dr. Michael Maxwell is a family physician and CEO of the North Olympic Healthcare Network, a ­federally qualified community health center in Port Angeles.
He lives in Port Angeles.