Opinion

District should dissolve

The hospital issue is a concern of taxpayers. A recent article stated that our Hospital District No. 4 commissioners say their mandate is to provide health care to the Snoqualmie Valley. Having spent over thirty years in the fire service and 16 years as Fire Chief of North Bend, and serving district 38 residents, I have observed and heard of many negative issues with this hospital, including recently, and statements by residents saying they will never go back.

When the hospital closed in the late eighties, as I recall, it prompted me to convince King County EMS to provide a Bellevue Medic Unit, stationed at the North Bend Fire Department. The medic unit serves the Upper Snoqualmie Valley and Fall City area. This unit has saved many lives over the years.

This unit's personnel provide all the emergency room services at a very high level. They transport to a hospital outside of the Valley, and in some cases, to where the patient wants to be taken.

When you visit with friends, they always tell you that they had surgery or were treated at a Seattle/Bellevue facility for their injuries or illnesses. It is not practical or financially sound to relocate and construct a new facility, because it won't provide a significant benefit to local residents.

Our hospital board needs to face reality regarding this issue. It hasn't been successful over the last thirty years and it is obvious to me it won't be in the future. When Swedish Hospital opens their 175-bed Issaquah facility, we will be 15 minutes away from very specialized care. We should not be appealing the Swedish Hospital's plan to construct that Issaquah facility. The benefits to our Valley residents are very significant, and our commissioners, if they care about us, would drop the appeal.

In my opinion, the hospital sale to the Snoqualmie Tribe should be finalized. The hospital district should pay off all debts and dissolve. The remaining revenue should be allocated to the individual fire agencies within the current hospital district for additional staffing, or allocated for another medic unit, if needed. Staffing a two-person aid unit to transport patients is another option.

Jerry Venera

North Bend

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