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Green Living on Vashon

PLAYING IN THE DARK Comedians light up the stage in a show about darkness. Page 10

See pages 13-18 for our annual “Green” section



Vol. 58, No. 16 w vashonbeachcombe

Islanders question health center merger Clinic officials say care will remain the same By SUSAN RIEMER Staff Writer

For more than a decade, the Vashon Health Center has been managed by Highline Medical Center, a nonprofit health organization based in Burien. Now, however, Highline — and with it, Vashon’s largest health clinic — are part of the Catholic-owned Franciscan Health System, and some islanders are voicing concerns. Those involved with the change say it is

a welcome turn of events, a chance to bring greater financial stability to the clinic at a time when Highline was facing a difficult financial picture. But others fear this new partnership could limit medical choices in significant ways. The merger comes at a time of increasing attention to the growth of Catholic health systems throughout the country and in Washington in particular. The American Civil Liberties Union estimates that by the end of this year, 47 percent of hospital beds in the state will be in Catholic-operated facilities. Now, health care activists and others are taking note and raising ques-

tions, particularly those concerned about reproductive health, end-of-life issues and the influence of the Catholic church over health care practices. A community meeting, spearheaded by islanders with questions about the recent transaction, will take place on Thursday, April 25. Mark Benedum, the CEO of Highline, and Dianna Kielian, the senior vice president of mission for the Franciscan Health System, will speak and answer questions. Those involved with the new affiliation, SEE HEALTH, PAGE 23

POI charts a new path in an effort to help Puget Sound By NATALIE JOHNSON Staff Writer


Potential cuts to ferry service stir concern Tahlequah route would see a reduction under a legislative plan By NATALIE JOHNSON B Staff Writer St

The remaking of an organization

An island nonprofit that made headlines during the battle against Glacier has reinvented itself, and with a new name and a renewed vision, it’s once again making waves in the shoreline development world. Amy Carey, director of the organization, announced last week that Preserve Our Islands has become Sound Action, a regional watchdog group that will seek to hold construction permitting agencies accountable for protecting aquatic habitat in Puget Sound. And in its first watchdogging effort, Sound Action has released an audit that the group believes shows the state Department of Fish & Wildlife (WDFW) isn’t following specific permitting laws meant to protect forage fish, a backbone of Puget Sound health. “We have run Puget Sound to the brink,” Carey said after the announcement last week. “It really is past the time for agencies to be doing their jobs — not creating new laws, but paying attention to the laws that are on the books.” However, the state, so far, doesn’t seem receptive to Sound Action’s message. Randi Thurston, WDFW’s protection division manager, said she believes the agency does follow the laws in question and does all it can to protect aquatic habitat. “The biologists here are really passionate about what they do, and they care about the fish,” Thurston said. “They take their jobs pretty seriously. One of them said, ‘It feels like I got punched in the gut.’” Carey, however, said there’s a dire need for oversight of regulatory agencies such as WDFW, agencies that issue permits


Natalie Johnson/Staff Photo

Amy Carey and Susie Kalhorn hope the new organization will work with regulatory agencies to improve their permitting processes and better protect habitat.

Islanders are urging state lawmakers to avoid what they call significant cuts to fe ferry service proposed for the south end of o Vashon. The House transportation budget released earlier this month proposes cutre ti the last trip of the evening on the ting Point Defiance-Tahlequah route as well as P o mid-day run, extending the mid-day one service gap on the route from two hours s to three hours and saving the state an estimated $780,000 a year. The Senate plan m retained current ferry service. re Vashon’s ferry advocates, however, say they th worry the service reductions suggested by the House would make it tough g for fo drivers to get on and off the south end during the day, prevent islanders from d going to Tacoma in the evening and send g more cars to the north-end ferry. m “The effect would not be catastrophic, but b very noticeable and would really affect people who regularly travel to Tacoma,” p said Todd Pearson, an islander paying s close attention to the situation. “And to c some degree, it could affect the triangle s route. Any additional pressure is a bad r thing.” th The House transportation plan also includes cuts to the Port Townsendin Coupeville and Clinton-Mukilteo routes C for fo an estimated $2.2 million in total savings. s Pearson said he has written to lawmakers e about the impact that cuts would have on o Vashon, and some others he knows have done the same. h “They’re aware we have our pitchforks in hand, and the torches are burning,” he h said. The state ferry system has been in the red re since the motor vehicle excise tax expired in 2000. Since then, the state has e transferred about $30 million a year from tr other parts of the transportation budget to o maintain service. However, those accounts m SEE FERRIES, 12

Vashon-Maury Island Beachcomber, April 17, 2013  
Vashon-Maury Island Beachcomber, April 17, 2013  

April 17, 2013 edition of the Vashon-Maury Island Beachcomber