Hospital crisis averted, for now


Point Roberts Hospital District commissioners Stephen Falk and Sara Oggel have issued public apologies for conducting district business outside of public meetings contrary to Washington state’s Open Public Meeting Act. The apologies were issued separately on June 18.

The breaches were discovered by an open public records request (OPR) made by Vic and Shannon Tomsen, owners of the Small Point Bulletin blogsite, and published on May 5. (The blog has no connection with the ePB or the All Point Bulletin.) The OPR discovered evidence that the two commissioners had communicated outside of public meetings and raised alarm in the community that there was a move afoot to change service providers at the local health clinic.

Such plans, if they existed, were scuttled when the hospital board took no move at its June regular meeting to give notice to the current service providers, SuperTrack Urgent Care, that the district did not plan to provide the required six months’ notice not to renew the current contract. The contract rolls over automatically every year for another year’s term if such notice is not given.

At that meeting, Falk said, “I do acknowledge making a mistake and talking to a commissioner outside the meeting. After a recent meeting, I [had] felt the need to vent about the discussion that just occurred. I don’t think that constitutes business or action, but whether it does or not, I apologize for the community creating an appearance of impropriety. That was sort of the last thing I wanted to do.” Falk made his comment following a demand from local resident Arthur Reber that he either apologize or resign. The latest apology was transmitted on Post ePost and read as follows:

“Apologies are best made and received without excuses, explanations or equivocation. I have been deeply involved in community service in Point Roberts for a decade. My motivation is to help solve problems, not to be involved in creating them. I apologize to the hospital district and all the people of Point Roberts for my role in all the controversy and anxiety swirling around the district.”

Oggel offered a more detailed apology, again over Post ePost. She wrote:

“I am taking this opportunity to offer my sincere apologies to the Point Roberts community for my activities in conjunction with the Point Roberts hospital district. My motivation was to provide a wide range of choices for medical care here on the Point. I realize that my discussions with one other board member involving clinic options was at odds with Washington state rules about public meetings.

Once again, I apologize for my errors in judgment and will continue to bring the Point Roberts community the highest level of health care possible.”

The apologies followed a highly contentious monthly hospital district meeting held June 12 where speaker after speaker criticized the two commissioners for their behind the scenes activities. Falk came in for particular criticism for his role in helping Dr. John Anwar and Deb Shields in their quest to replace SuperTrack as service providers for the hospital district.

SuperTrack principal Dr. Sean Bozorgzad was scathing in his condemnation of Falk’s behavior. “You’ve been undermining us the whole time. I can’t believe you just sit there and say this nonsense,” he told Falk. “You made it difficult for us to function. She (Shields) was our employee. And you helped her make a case while she’s getting paid by us to take the contract away from us,” Bozorgzad said.

A motion by Newbolt to extend the SuperTrack contract to a multi-year contract failed for a lack of second after Oggel said she wanted to delay consideration until she investigated a two-year-old complaint she had just received, a delay that was poorly received by the crowd.

“They waited,” said Shannon Riley, referring to the authors of the complaint. “They waited two years to submit a letter. We’re going to have a delay for what everyone wants, just basically to get rid of the crowd you have in front of you.”

The motion was tabled.


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