Letters to the Editor, Week of June 7, 2023

June 7, 2023 at 5:00 a.m.


PeaceHealth administrators need training in crisis management that covers the value of a corporate apology. They could have avoided a lot of bad press if they had chosen to be forthright.

Most PeaceHealth frontline workers, including physicians and nurses, are outstanding. They deserve our respect, and so do the lower-paid, and often undervalued other essential workers — housekeepers, maintenance, dietary, nursing assistants and patient tech personnel. So, it's a shame that management missteps have stained PeaceHealth's reputation.

Dr. Ming Lin believes an admission of wrongdoing for his abrupt dismissal from PeaceHealth is warranted, not for himself but for future patient care and safety and community confidence in our one and only hospital (CDN, May 31, 2023).

Lawsuits for retaliatory termination can generate large judgments against hospitals or contract management groups because jurors generally feel ill will toward corporations that encumber patient safety, especially when management attempts to hide such actions.

Nicholas Kristof wrote in The New York Times, on April 1, 2020, when Lin was fired: “... Charles Prosper, the C.E.O. of the hospital network, wouldn’t take my call, although he said in a statement that he regretted losing 'such a longstanding and talented member of our medical staff.' The PeaceHealth board should recognize that its hospital has more need for an experienced E.R. doctor than for a bungling C.E.O ...”

Apologies in such matters are best offered in a timely manner.

The clock is ticking to improve PeaceHealth management's reputation. Rebranding with a new logo won't improve their image. Doing the right thing will.

Delores Davies



In last week's letters, Gloria Calderhead argues that Eldridge is not a great place for bike lanes. Eldridge, while being built more like a small neighborhood street, has turned into a de facto arterial. Ms. Calderhead raises a number of issues that certainly warrant discussion about the where and how of bike infrastructure, but I do take issue with this statement: “Now you are taking away our parking? That devalues our property. Are we going to get a property tax break?”

We all pay the same property tax rates — and none of that money entitles any of us to use public property for storing our personal belongings. Parking is, for very valid reasons, considered to be the third rail of neighborhood planning. We can and should have all sorts of civic discourse about where to put what kinds of infrastructure, what roads to turn into arterials, how to manage traffic flow, and yes, how to manage parking. But recognizing parking as just one of many competing uses for public space, rather than treating it as some inviolable entitlement, is a necessary condition for success.

Andreas Macke



Dear Gloria [Calderhead] and the greater Bellingham community: 

I am a cyclist through and through, and I read your letter with great empathy. This may seem contradictory but it is not. I, too, don't think bike lanes on Eldridge are the best solution for some of the same reasons you outline. It is not fair, the coming burden. But it's a step forward for the future of active transportation in Bellingham and this is needed. I can't expect to agree with all specific projects. 

Yes, only 3.3% or so people use bikes or walking for their errands and commutes. This is disheartening and it is the very problem. The goal of expanding active transportation infrastructure is for that percentage to increase to minimize congestion and maximize quality of life. And we have plenty of people who, given better infrastructure and finding the will within, can make it happen by gradually reinventing how they get around.

To me, it is sad to see so many healthy people driving just minutes to work and simple errands. Many residents consider this area to be progressive and outdoors-oriented but our transportation habits indicate otherwise. And it should start with transportation. It doesn’t require everyone biking or walking everywhere all the time but rather many additional people taking baby steps to start.

If we can improve from 3.3% to 6.6% and beyond by improving cycling and pedestrian infrastructure, we will be a happier, healthier city as we grow. I'm truly sorry that you feel caught in the middle.

Pete Sharp



I was disheartened to read Dr. Margaret Jacobson’s letter in the May 19 Salish Current describing the end of the palliative care model in Whatcom County. This model was developed as a promise to Whatcom residents because PeaceHealth declined to offer patients the “right to die” option that was voted by the residents of Washington state in 2008. The initial seed money was donated by local philanthropists and the agreement was that PeaceHealth would carry the program forward.  

I wonder why, when budget cuts need to be discussed, so often programs to help the vulnerable of us are eliminated. Palliative care is not an expensive service compared to, say, open heart surgery. Its benefits are immeasurable for patients and their families at the end of life. Perhaps PeaceHealth could start saving money instead by removing the huge billboards around Bellingham promoting their services.

As we all know, the U.S. is the only industrialized country in the world without a medical system for all. For more than 30 years, bills have been presented to Congress for universal healthcare, sometimes called Medicare for All. (Between Medicare, Medicaid, Indian Health Services, and VA services, the government already pays for nearly half of the country’s medical bills.)   

On May 17, three congresspeople introduced once again the Medicare for All Act. In the House, more than half of the Democratic Caucus is co-sponsoring it. Rep. Rick Larsen is not among those. I hope I live long enough to see the passage of this common-sense and humane approach to healthcare.

Kristin Barber



PeaceHealth is reportedly closing its outpatient palliative care program because it isn't profitable. Donors to that program who were promised that it would be sustained must be furious.

Health care and profit are simply not compatible. Like all human services, including education, the programs should not depend on their capacity to make money as though that is the reason for having them. Capitalism and health care make rotten bedfellows.

The reason for having the palliative care program is to serve the community, plain and simple. An outpatient palliative care program helps people with no hope of recovery to be in their own homes. It also helps family members and other caregivers to manage the challenging experience of accompanying a close relative or friend as they move toward their death in peace at home, in a manner of their own choosing.

I urge all donors to PeaceHealth to cancel their donations to let PeaceHealth know that it can't renege on promises it made to sustain the outpatient palliative care program. Palliative care, both outpatient and inpatient, is essential health care. PeaceHealth needs to step up and acknowledge that fact.

Lucy Morse



I am trying to understand how PeaceHealth management can claim it was a mission-driven decision to cut its outpatient palliative program.  

From what I understand, PeaceHealth awarded a three-year consultancy contract to a person touted as an expert in building sustainable palliative care programs. 

Maria Gatto wrote an article in December 2022 that appeared in the Journal of the Catholic Health Association in which she wrote, “PeaceHealth's palliative care initiative is more than just standardizing best practices ... Palliative care is core to PeaceHealth's commitment statement 'providing quality and compassionate care, every time, every touch.'”

PeaceHealth management terminated Gatto's contract in its second year, even though they allegedly were setting a course to develop a standardized, high-functioning program. Then five months later, they did a 180 and shut down the program.

PeaceHealth administrators must think we don't know how to Google. 

In plain sight on its foundation website, it promised donors if they gave the necessary seed money to launch the palliative care program, PeaceHealth would sustain it. 

“This amazing success confirms the desperate need that seriously ill patients have for skilled, compassionate, holistic care and speaks to the ability of our palliative care team to grow the program as demand increases. PeaceHealth has committed to support the outpatient palliative care beyond the five-year Foundation and community investment, ensuring that holistic care for chronically and seriously ill patients will remain available here in Whatcom County for the foreseeable future ...”

PeaceHealth management, please help me and others understand how your decision aligns with your mission statement.

Kathy Sitker

Birch Bay

Have a news tip? Email newstips@cascadiadaily.com or Call/Text 360-922-3092



Register for email newsletters

* indicates required

Latest Stories

Rangers wrap up playoff berth, help eliminate Mariners with 6-1 victory
Seattle falls short a year after ending 21-year playoff drought

Affordable housing among candidates' top concerns
Complex problem requires multiple solutions

New multimedia dance work exploring water features photography and poetry
‘Tidal’ explores water, relationships in intergenerational dance piece by Kuntz and Company

Lynden's passing attack overpowers Sehome
Heppner's 4 TD passes leads Lions to 44-24 win over Mariners

J.P. Crawford's grand slam leads Mariners to 8-0 win over Rangers
Seattle remains 1 game behind Houston in wild-card standings