By Pat Grubb
Just shy of 12 years’ tenure, Point Roberts Hospital District superintendent Elaine Komusi announced her resignation at the district’s board meeting on March 1. Speaking from a prepared statement, Komusi told the board her work circumstances had changed to “a very busy and demanding full-time role in downtown Vancouver” and that her aging parents and father’s recent health issues required more of her time in the evenings and on weekends.
Komusi said she had always enjoyed her role as superintendent and added that “having a clinic in Point Roberts that rivals the medical care you can get on the mainland is an amazing thing, it’s a huge success and requires ongoing focus to ensure that success long into the future.”
Komusi, contracted to work eight hours a week for the district, told the board that recently her time has been “spent more on reacting to situations, defending, following up on useless details and … strategizing how to minimize the damage created against the hospital district and the clinic by a very few individuals whose sole purpose is to undermine the success of the clinic. … This negative group has and continues to cost our district and the taxpayers money through time spent on unnecessary and, at times, repeat public records requests and through costly attorney fees which have more than doubled from previous years. These very few people who create the most negativity, noise and work for us cost us time, energy and, quite frankly, take the passion out of serving the community.”
“In a community this close, reputation is everything and these people have done everything they can to create doubt, spread untruths, and spend their time trying to point out the things they consider we are doing wrong. Two of them sit here at every meeting with their cameras, recording devices, taking notes and trying to intimidate us. Well, you have failed. You do not intimidate us – you embarrass yourself,” she said, directly addressing the subjects of her ire, Shannon Tomsen and her husband Victor Riley who were sitting on different sides of the room. As usual, Tomsen was behind an iPad perched on a tripod being used to film the meeting.
Continuing on, Komusi told the pair that their “relentless pursuit to find negative things about the way we do business has failed. For almost two years, you cannot come up with anything other than ‘we didn’t post notices’ even though we are not required to do so. Or, ‘we need to put our minutes and agenda on the website’ even though we are not required to do so. It would be great if you took the high road and recognized and celebrated all the wonderful things we do and the wonderful care and services this group provides to the community.”
Komusi also had words to say about the fire district’s recently announced plan to institute a CARES program to provide in-home visits to those needing medical assistance. CARES is a state program that authorizes fire districts to offer community assistance referral and education services to local residents who burden the 911 system with low acuity, or non-emergent, assistance calls.
She cautioned that utilizing a nurse practitioner to assist the program on the Point meant the care that would be provided would exceed the care normally provided in other communities where the program operates. Nurse practitioner Virginia Lester who was formerly involved with the clinic, and is now a fire commissioner is planning on assisting the CARES program.
Komusi pointed out that even patients with health insurance have deductibles, co-pays and, in some cases, have to pay cash for a visit to the clinic. “We can’t compete with free,” referring to the fire district’s plans to offer the program free of charge. She said the community needs to know that the clinic requires patients to be sustainable long term and that the CARES program was “not intended to replace a medical practice with continuity of care which is essential for healthcare.”
The superintendent concluded by celebrating “a few great things,” including “years of balanced budgets which have led to a healthy reserve fund … systems and processes that allow us to track and monitor key areas … the highly qualified and caring team of professionals at the clinic – people who truly care for the people of this community.”
Following the conclusion of business, Tomsen and her husband attempted to deflect Komusi’s accusations, both alluding vaguely to unsatisfactory results from an early “closed door meeting” between Tomsen and Komusi and blamed “Pat Grubb and his ilk” and the All Point Bulletin for “character assassination” and misleading coverage. The board did not bother responding to the pair’s lengthy comments with the exception of commissioner Robin Nault who, referring to a statement Riley made alleging the commissioners’ lack of curiosity about the fire district, said, “That’s just a ridiculous comment and I’m offended by it.”