Northwest NEWS

July 31, 2000

Front Page

Committee hopes for public support for medical clinic

by Lisa Allen
   Valley View Editor
   DUVALL‹When Medalia Health Care closed its clinic on Valley Street over two years ago, the city was left without a primary medical facility for the first time in 15 years. Now, a group of local business leaders and health care professionals is trying to garner public support for a new clinic they say is sorely needed.
   "Support" is the key word, since a clinic will only be built if residents vote to annex the area into the Evergreen Hospital District (King County Public Hospital District No. 2). If annexed, property owners will contribute approximately $.39 per $1,000 of assessed home value to the hospital district. A Duvall home with an assessed value of $200,000 will be taxed approximately $78 per year or $6.50 per month.
   If Duvall residents approve the annexation, the group says, they will be the beneficiaries of a public community health care system that pools financial resources from several communities in order to bring higher levels of quality medical care to those who need it.
   The group, calling itself the Duvall Health Care Planning Committee, has been working on the issue for 18 months and says annexation is considered to be the best model for ensuring the stability of long-term medical care for Duvall.
   Residents first heard about the proposal in May, during Duvall Days, when the committee handed out questionnaires asking the public their opinion on the need of a local clinic.
   "We asked about 95 people and the feedback was about 85 percent positive," said Duvall chiropractor and committee member Gary Rutledge.
   Armed with those statistics, the committee took their request to the Evergreen Healthcare Board of Commissioners which, on June 19, adopted a resolution calling for an election to determine if residents wish to be annexed. Residents may comment at public hearings on Monday, August 7 at 7 p.m. and Wednesday, August 9 at 3 p.m. in the Duvall Library's Rose Room (in the library basement).
   According to a statement from Leslie Larson, Evergreen Healthcare spokesperson, district commissioners will consider the input and decide whether or not to place the issue on the November ballot.
   If voters agree to be annexed, Evergreen will establish and cover capitalization costs of the facility and provide the full range of medical care and supporting health care services.
   Committee members say residents must decide which costs and benefits they want, but have determined that Duvall, a community that "embraces the value of sustainability, must look a this critical missing piece of our infrastructure."
   In a mission statement, "Who Cares About Medical Care in Duvall?" the committee says that, because of Duvall's isolated location, residents are paying too much for medical care in time, gas, in traffic and in frustration.
   And for care for older residents and children who get sick, caregivers must travel outside of town. Emergency needs and flooded roads, the committee says, also take their toll.
   "Duvall has never had an opportunity to participate in the development of medical care, until now," say committee members. "It is estimated that residents travel an average of 60 minutes just getting to and from a doctor. And the costs associated with not having this vital community asset will increase as the population rises and the needs of our neighbors grow."
   The committee has found that population is projected to increase by nearly 25 percent from 10,619 in 1998 to 12,029 in 2003, and that the population that will need more medical care, children and adults over 54, is projected to increase significantly during that time, along with the number of working parents.
   The committee points out that transportation to other cities with medical services is also not adequate, particularly for older residents.
   But, there is "also a positive trend occurring in our community," the statement says. [There is a] "renewed sense of community involvement and responsibility as seen in the arts, sports, theater, the schools and issues around the quarry and the highway. Duvall citzens are showing much interest in ensuring that the quality of life in our community is as positive as it can be."
   During the planning stage, the committee identified goals which include a stable, long-term medical system that will be integrated into the fabric of the community; comprehensive access to quality medical care and wellness programs and a facility that accepts the broadest insurance coverage available.
   For the local community, the committee would like to see a medical facility that offers high quality primary care (family practice with pediatric specialty), urgent care, after-hours and weekend care and diagnostic and other primary care support services (X-ray and lab services).
   Other desirable features listed include community-specific needs and linkages to other medical services, such as alternative medical care, home care, hospice, wellness classes and prevention awareness.
   "I enthusiastically recommend to those who want their opinion voiced to be at the public hearings," said Rutledge. "Our sole focus is to find out whether the community wants this."
   Residents can call the following committee members for information or more ideas.
   Gary Rutledge (788-4625), Rick Stewart (788-0505), Sandy Rowe (788-7072), Dr. Sam Castillo (788-2626), Lorry Kaye (788-1345), Karin Reep (788-0860) or Kathy Pouncy (844-2300).