PORT TOWNSEND — Former midwife Cheri Van Hoover has kicked off the 2017 election season with her announcement that she’s running for the Jefferson County Public Hospital District No. 2 board.
“I feel like my skills and experience are a great fit for the position, and I want to help the community,” Van Hoover said. “I have experience with our local health services as someone who uses those services and as someone with a background in health services.”
Van Hoover, who is running for the seat held by incumbent Anthony “Tony” DeLeo for 44 years, has never run for public office before but has served as a health care provider for more than 30 years.
According to Van Hoover, she was a counselor in a crisis intervention facility for six years before going back to school to become a certified nurse midwife with a master’s degree from Stony Brook University, New York.
Van Hoover then went on to work for a variety of health care providers, mostly in the San Francisco Bay Area. She said she has worked in private practice, health maintenance and outpatient and inpatient facilities.
Most recently, she worked for Family Planning of Clallam County and the Sequim Planned Parenthood before it closed in December.
Currently, she runs a bed-and-breakfast in Port Hadlock with her husband, Rocky, and teaches health policy online for Philadelphia University.
Van Hoover said she is running for the six-year term on four main points: access, excellence, resource utilization and innovation.
“I care about timely access to high-quality health care,” Van Hoover said.
She said she hopes to make sure people have access to health insurance and address the county shortage of primary care providers.
“I want to focus on the recruitment and retention of primary care providers,” Van Hoover said.
She said she also wants to focus on increasing the quality of care available to Jefferson County residents.
“Jefferson Healthcare is doing an extraordinary job at present, but I see opportunities for improvement and growth,” Van Hoover said.
She said some of those improvements could be made possible with her next point: making sure the local health services are utilizing the financial, human and community resources to the best of their ability.
“We want employees to feel supported and make sure their skills and talents are utilized,” Van Hoover said. “I also want to ensure we’re using existing community resources to supplement and support local health care.”
Van Hoover said she also wants to ensure local health care providers are innovating through the increased use of technology.
“Technology can be used to link us with services available outside of our rural area,” Van Hoover said.
She said she has considered running for the hospital board in the past.
In some of her classes, she said, she assigns students an interview with a woman who has run for office to present to the class.
“Those stories have been really inspiring for all of us,” Van Hoover said, “for the students and for me.”
After the Planned Parenthood in Sequim closed, she said, running for the seat felt like her window of opportunity.
“Circumstances aligned and I feel it’s my time,” Van Hoover said.
DeLeo ran unopposed in 2011. As of Wednesday, he has not said whether he’ll run against Van Hoover for another term. Efforts to reach him Wednesday for comment were unsuccessful.
Jefferson County Editor/Reporter Cydney McFarland can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 55052, or at cmcfarland@ peninsuladailynews.com.