The Point Roberts Hospital District is back to full strength after commissioners appointed Barb Wayland as district superintendent to replace the departing Elaine Komusi and Stephen Falk to commissioner following Robin Nault’s resignation. Wayland was selected at a special meeting concerning the superintendent position on April 26; Falk was appointed at the district’s regular monthly meeting on May 2.
Wayland formerly served as a hospital district commissioner for a term and a half and was described by Komusi as having “a lot of medical background, including as a nurse supervisor.” Current commissioners Dick Williams and Kandace Harper unanimously approved the motion to hire Wayland, effective immediately. Commissioners also approved a motion to purchase a laptop – its cost not to exceed $2,000 – for Wayland to use exclusively for hospital district business. Wayland will work besides Komusi for an unspecified period of time to get up to speed on the superintendent’s position.
A commissioner is chosen
Addressing the audience, commission chair Williams asked if there was anyone who was interested in being appointed to the commission. Both Falk and Victor Riley put their names forward for consideration. Williams explained that he and Harper had six questions to ask of each candidate and gave each a total of 10 minutes to respond. When asked what appealed to him about being a hospital commissioner, Falk cited his commitment to having “a strong clinic and a hospital district that supported it.” He cited his experience “as a long-time attorney who would be able to bring some useful skills to bear in support of hospital district activities or review of agreements.” Falk also noted his involvement as a parks district commissioner and his involvement with the construction of the new library. He professed to having no in-depth knowledge of the hospital district but assured the commission that he was “a quick study.”
When Riley’s turn to answer the commissioner’s questions, he began by saying, “As you know, I was one of the founding commissioners” and brought up the role of his wife Shannon Tomsen who “helped establish the [hospital] taxing district.”
Both Riley and Tomsen have been highly critical of the hospital district for well over a year and have leveled accusations against the district, its employees, its management and its relationship with the non-profit organization that provides the actual health services. He told the board that he had a Ph.D. in experimental psychology and had been successful in obtaining grants which could be useful in doing the same for the district.
Asked what he considered to be the two biggest issues facing the district, Riley was vague in his response. “After attending the district’s meetings for the past year or so, I think I have a pretty good handle on what the issues are,” he said, failing to describe what issues he was referring to.
Following the question and answer session, Williams announced the commission would go into a 20-minute executive session to consider the two candidates. After the 20 minutes had elapsed, it was announced that the board would remain in executive session for another 10 minutes to continue their deliberations. Re-convening, Williams called on Harper to announce her choice and she replied she was in favor of appointing Falk. Williams concurred and the two moved to approve his appointment.
After Falk’s appointment, Komusi said, “What Dick said is absolutely correct, we had a couple of outstanding candidates,” and thanked them for putting their names forth. Continuing, she said, “I think the deciding factor in considering the qualifications is that there is some damaged trust and that there is this association with a publication that is in opposition with our organization and that has damaged the trust and … it has probably damaged the trust of the community, community care and the clinic and that might impact our success as a commission because of that.”
Her comments were directed towards Riley who, along with his wife, last year created the smallpointbulletin website and have been posting weekly criticisms of the hospital district and the All Point Bulletin newspaper.
The appointment runs until December 2019; Falk would need to run in the general election next year should he wish to continue as hospital district commissioner.