PORT TOWNSEND — Fewer than 300 votes separated the two top finishers in the initial count of ballots for the Jefferson Healthcare hospital commission seat.
Cheri Van Hoover and Bruce McComas will face off for the Position 1 seat vacated by Anthony DeLeo.
The first ballot count of the August primary put Van Hoover with just over 48 percent of the vote, or 3,416 votes. McComas was just slightly behind with 44 percent of the vote, or 3,132 votes.
The third candidate, Bernie Donanberg, finished with just 554 votes, or just under 8 percent of the vote.
The second count of ballots in the all-mail election will be by 2 p.m. Friday.
“I just want to say how grateful I am to everyone who has supported me,” Van Hoover said Wednesday. “I plan to just keep working hard until November.”
Said McComas: “I’m happy with the results. I got a bit of a late start compared to my opponents, but I appreciated how they ran their campaigns and appreciate the issues that they brought up.”
Van Hoover is a certified nurse-midwife, a health policy instructor for Philadelphia University and a small-business owner in Port Hadlock.
Van Hoover said she is running to improve access to health care and support the inclusion of behavioral health into basic primary care.
“My priority is access and expanding access through the recruitment and retention of primary care providers,” Van Hoover said.
Van Hoover said the hospital has a shortage of primary care providers, which means long wait times for patients when they make appointments.
Van Hoover said if elected, she plans to help with the integration of behavioral and mental health services into primary care. She said she would also like to focus on opening up lines of communication between the hospital and the community to promote transparency.
McComas is the former manager of the Port Townsend Paper Corp. mill and serves on three hospital boards, where he advocates for patients and patient caregivers.
McComas advocates for better access to health care by addressing the lack of primary care doctors as well as reducing cost barriers.
“Everyone wants to get their health care close to home,” McComas said. “You shouldn’t have to go to Seattle for basic health services.”
McComas said he would like to continue helping Jefferson Healthcare improve the quality and scope of services it provides by recruiting more doctors and finding ways to reduce health care costs.
“Everyone should have access to health care,” McComas said. “I’m for universal health care, but I want to focus on things I can currently influence.”
McComas said his background as a manager and financial know-how would make him an asset to the hospital board, which already has commissioners with backgrounds in health care.
Jefferson County Editor/Reporter Cydney McFarland can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 55052, or at [email protected]