Time to mark your ballot and vote | Guest Column

Submitted by Catherine Washburn Medical Association

Lopez voters face an important decision: will they approve a public hospital district (PHD) to provide funding to keep our medical clinic on Lopez Island?

Ballots for the measure arrived in mailboxes the first week of April. Registered voters have until Tuesday, April 25, to either mail or drop them in the ballot box in front of the Lopez Fire Hall on Fisherman Bay Road. In addition to the funding measure, voters will choose commissioners to administer the hospital district, if it passes.

“We want everyone to understand that the clinic will close if we don’t pass a public hospital district,” said Christa Campbell, vice president of the Catherine Washburn Medical Association, the non-profit that supports Lopez Clinic. “The national healthcare environment is changing. Remote rural clinics across the country are turning to their local communities to help with funding. The CWMA has taken months to examine all the options and a public hospital district will definitely serve us well. We urge everyone to vote yes if they want to keep this amazing resource on Lopez.”

Last week, about 80 people attended a public meeting at Grace Church community hall to hear the CWMA board update the clinic’s partnership and independence options and to learn more about the public hospital district. The question and answer period lasted 90 minutes. “It was a great turn out,” said Marty Clark, president of the CWMA, who presented the update. “We were pleased with all the questions. It’s been a challenging time for our community as we looked for a sustainable way to keep our clinic open and thriving. We have certainly appreciated everyone’s patience.” The PHD vote will be tallied by the end of the month. The board expects to make the decision about choosing a new clinic partnership or going independent by the end of April.

For more information about the PHD measure and the candidates, read the voter pamphlet on line. Articles about the changes in healthcare necessitating this change, details of a public hospital district operation, plus a Q&A are available on the CWMA website: www.lopezislandmedical.org.

Those who are not yet registered to vote can still cast a ballot by going to the elections office in Friday Harbor. After registering there, they will be given a ballot. For questions, call Doris Schaller, the SJC elections administrator at 378-3357.