Olympic Medical Center board endorses fluoridation of Port Angeles city water

Olympic Medical Center board endorses fluoridation of Port Angeles city water

PORT ANGELES — Olympic Medical Center commissioners listened to both sides of the fluoridation issue, then voted unanimously without comment to support it in Port Angeles.

After voting Wednesday, they issued a written statement Thursday saying those would be their last words on the subject.

Commissioners John Beitzel, Jim Cammack, Jean Hordyk, Jim Leskinovitch, Dr. John Miles and Tom Oblak voted for the resolution. Commissioner John Nutter was on OMC business in Washington, D.C.

The city’s current program of fluoridating its water supply faces renewal next May.

The city has scheduled public forums on the issue for next month and a poll of water customers in November.

OMC’s statement said in part, “Community water fluoridation is an evidence-based measure that helps decrease local burden of dental decay with its many consequences. . . .

“[OMC] commends the work of community partners and health care providers utilizing evidence-based preventive measures to improve oral health — this includes community water fluoridation in Port Angeles.”

The full text of Resolution 488 will be posted on OMC’s website, www.olympicmedical.org, Oblak said.

Fluoridation opponent

Commissioners had listened to longtime fluoridation opponent Dr. Eloise Kailin say they were “harming the image of the hospital” by endorsing a program whose evidence she called “out of date and uninformed.”

Kailin’s son, Harvey, told commissioners it was “bad medical practice . . . to treat people you have never met . . . with no informed consent” for fluoride, and Stephanie Noblin of Port Angeles told them their job was to run the medical center.

“I see nowhere in your strategic plan where your job is to advise the city on its business,” she said.

Support fluoridation

But Dr. Tom Locke, former Clallam County public health officer and present health officer for Jefferson County; Dr. Mark Fisher of the OMC staff; and Deborah Bopp, a certified nurse midwife at OMC, all spoke in favor of commissioners’ backing fluoridation.

“I’m convinced of the overall benefit to my patients and their future children,” Bopp said.

Since fluoridation began in 2006, Locke said, “none of the [opponents’] dire predictions have come to pass. All that’s happened is that things have gotten better.”

Locke and Noblin, who videotapes government meetings for public access, had spoken for and against fluoridation, respectively, at Tuesday’s meeting of the Clallam County Board of Health.

The Board of Health took no position on the issue.

Oct. 22 forum

The Port Angeles City Council will host presentations for and against fluoridation in an Oct. 22 forum at 6 p.m. at City Hall, 321 E. Fifth St., and will take public testimony on the question at a hearing one week later.

The city then will survey water customers on whether they want fluoridation.

A binding referendum on the question is forbidden by a state Supreme Court ruling that fluoridation is an administrative, not a legislative, process and thus not subject to a ballot.

Databar Inc. of Edgewood, a marketing company, will mail out the survey, which must be postmarked by Nov. 27.

Responses will be tabulated by retired Clallam County Auditor Patty Rosand.

The city must decide whether to continue fluoridating its drinking water by May 18.

The process will continue unless the City Council votes to stop it.

Other business

In other hospital action, OMC commissioners:

■ Learned that a brief groundbreaking ceremony is set for 10 a.m. Tuesday at Race and Georgiana streets for the new medical office building. A reception will follow in Seasons Cafe in the hospital, 939 Caroline St.

■ Scheduled for Nov. 2 public posting in local libraries and the OMC website the medical center’s proposed operating and capital budgets for 2016. The board will act on the budgets Nov. 18.

■ Approved a $106,274 change order on the office building to bury electrical cables.

The work had been scheduled for later during construction but was found to be faster and less costly if performed soon, according to Julie Rukstad, chief financial officer.

■ Scheduled their next meeting for 12:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 6, at OMC’s Sequim campus, 800 N. Sequim Ave.

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Reporter James Casey can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5074, or at [email protected]

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