Letters to the Editor, Week of Aug. 16, 2023

Greenways levy, outpatient care and fair prices
August 16, 2023 at 5:00 a.m.


We need to take a harder look at Greenways V Levy. During the past 33 years, the Greenways Program has been successful in maintaining and creating outdoor recreation opportunities in Bellingham. The levy has collected more than $100 million during this time. It is time for the city to shift its attention and taxpayer dollars to year-round, equitable, indoor recreation.

 We need modern, energy efficient, public (unlike the YMCA), equitable facilities like pools, ice rinks, senior centers, and community centers. These facilities should be thought of as parks. The retreat of government and privatization of swimming pools and recreation have hurt minority groups the hardest.

Swimming and other forms of indoor recreation have become exclusive activities due to the lack of public facilities, forcing the community to seek indoor activities outside of Whatcom County. The $36 million Greenways levy collected from 2017 to 2022 could have funded a new pool or community center. Every family should be able to have access to swim lessons, swim teams, lap swims, and water exercise classes for health and wellness. That is not currently the case.

 We need to look at recreational facilities and programs, with the goal of providing well-rounded services equitably across our community. Our growing city desires public, accessible, indoor recreation opportunities. Public transit systems have more stops at fixed facilities, making them more accessible than trail systems and open-air parks.

I hope the Greenways Program can continue the good work, while also finally focusing on our public indoor parks.

Brad Jones



The guest essay author Ted Royal sees flaws in our state's Death with Dignity law (CDN, August 8, 2023). He summed up his concerns with, "But that doesn't work for someone who is not of sound mind and can't be mobile."

In every state that has passed physician aid in dying legislation, being of sound mind is required in all jurisdictions — the person must make a voluntary, well-considered, informed request while they are fully competent. That requirement is an important safeguard to prevent the involuntary use of the lethal substances prescribed to end one's life.

Dr. Margaret Jacobson, a local board-certified family medicine and hospice and palliative medicine physician, explains the importance of palliative care as it relates to aid-in-dying. 

Because PeaceHealth — and in fairness, many hospital groups, religious-based or otherwise — do not participate in right-to-die services, she points out that, "those of us on the PeaceHealth system Ethics Committee, along with the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace, understood that if PeaceHealth opposed this legislation, they must offer impeccable, state-of-the-art end-of-life care. Palliative and hospice care were considered essential to that mission." 

That, in a nutshell, is why the closure of PeaceHealth's outpatient palliative care services, and its refusal to address the communities it serves on the matter, continues to be an ongoing ethical and moral issue.

Mr. Royal's beloved aunt, and their entire family, could have benefitted from outpatient palliative care.

PeaceHealth, if you have plans to reinstate the program, tell us now. If you don't, explain why not.

Micki Jackson



I was just reading the E-edition for August 11, 2023, and was quite impressed with the letters from Ted Van Dyk, and Ira Penn, both from Bellingham.

I think it is an excellent idea to use the old St. Luke's Hospital as a triage center of sorts for people with mental health and drug issues. Then, possibly, we can move on to a discussion of refurbishing the existing jail for the purpose it was intended, or a new jail. But a tax for something so nebulous as "the new jail" is pretty much jumping the gun.

Barry Hutchinson



Ted Royal wrote an excellent article about dealing with relatives as they near the end of their lives. It is a challenging subject to discuss with family or friends or those you trust with this sensitive topic. The editorial from the previous week addressed some of the challenges that citizens face in working with PeaceHealth as a Catholic-based hospital. 

Emotions run the full gamut for all of us as we are faced with this decision now or at some future point. We all want to live a robust life without becoming an emotional, physical or financial burden. When is enough, enough? 

Thank you Ted for your contribution to an overdue discussion for a lot of us. “The cost of that was prohibitive,” caught my attention. I had to read everything several more times and plug in my own variables.

Scott Thompson



Thank you so very much for pointing out the insufficiencies of the PeaceHealth system in Bellingham. I highly praise you for exposing the multiple wrongdoings, the necessary health programs they have dropped and the slowness of getting any medical care in this town.

I have been very frustrated with PeaceHealth and the hospital here ever since moving to Bellingham in 2016. I have sat in their ER for up to 6 1/2 hours. My shortest wait has been three hours! My neighbor, who broke his hip, sat in ER here for over 8 hours in constant pain waiting to be seen. This is entirely unacceptable. Today I called a Primary Care physician's office to speak to someone and I was put on hold for over an hour!

Bellingham citizens are being shortchanged and cheated by PeaceHealth. Please tell me what I and others can do to get a second hospital in Bellingham. It’s my understanding that PeaceHealth and the Board are in total control of this and they do not want any competition from a second hospital. This is totally unfair to the population of Bellingham and this should not continue!

Please continue to expose the local healthcare system that is keeping us under the thumb of PeaceHealth. Thank you.

Lorraine Delahoyde



I am writing about the overpriced [Northwest Washington] fair going on now in Lynden.

Every year I struggle to afford the fair! A couple hundred dollars for me, my husband, and our grandson to attend. Last year it was 200 bucks with little or no food. And lots of throwaway prizes. This year we offered to buy our grandson a new bike instead of going to the fair. Hands down he chose a new bike over the fair. A win-win situation for all involved. We saved money and he was so excited to go pick out his new bike.

Patty Hutchins


Letters to the Editor are published online Wednesdays and a selection is published in print Fridays. Send Letters to the Editor to letters@cascadiadaily.com, due Tuesdays at 10 a.m. Rules: Maximum 250 words, have a point and make it clearly. CDN reserves the right to edit letters for length, clarity, grammar and style, and personal attacks or offensive content. Letters should be submitted with an address/phone number to verify the writer's identity (not for publication).

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