Swedish cuts, typos, connector, the homeless | Letters to the Editor

Sep 28, 2018

Swedish cuts will compromise patient safety

I hope the City of Edmonds and the hospital commissioners are paying attention to the staff reductions that are about to occur in Edmonds (“Swedish layoffs will affect Edmonds hospital,” Sept. 20). Although the Beacon article stated that staffing cuts will affect a small percentage of the overall workforce, Swedish did not announce the specific jobs to be cut and did not provide a comprehensive list of changes to share.

Some nurses employed by Swedish were given information packets on Sept. 12 when the restructure was announced publicly, but no new information has been forthcoming to date.

Although the Beacon article quoted CEO Guy Hudson as saying, "We are committed to working with all impacted caregivers to help them apply for ... open positions," the packets given to existing staff show closing open positions as one of the options the organization may consider.

Apparently, Swedish uses the term “caregivers” to describe all of its employees; I find the term rather misleading. To me, a caregiver is a licensed professional – doctors, nurses, pharmacists, respiratory therapists or physical therapists.

I would be less concerned if the person scheduling my next appointment or a food service worker in the cafeteria or Starbucks were about to be laid off, versus those who provide direct patient care at the bedside.

Some proposed staff reductions are so significant that only a fraction of the number of patients will be cared for in Edmonds (compared to the number of beds the hospital is licensed to operate). Instead, patients will be stabilized and then transferred to Seattle for ongoing care at a different campus.

Some areas at First Hill have already been routinely understaffed, but there are no open positions. Swedish has been paying clinical staff overtime – up to 1.5 to two times their usual rate of pay – and allowing them to work up to 16-hour shifts.

Does this sound like a "more cost-effective” model of care to you? Do you really believe that they will not compromise on quality or patient safety? I certainly have my doubts.

Mary Hovander, retired RN


Beacon needs proofreader

I look forward to reading the Beacon each Thursday. Once in a while, I’m puzzled as to why an obvious error was printed in that edition.

Spell check wouldn’t have caught the omission of part of the first sentence on the petanque article. It wouldn’t have caught Maria Montalvo’s “chickpea flower” rather than “chickpea flour,” either. A food writer needs to double check terms they are not familiar with.

Perhaps the Beacon could find an English or journalism student to get some experience as a proofreader. Just a thought.

I appreciate all the good work you and your staff do getting out the Beacon each week. Thank you.

Sharon Sneddon


Editor’s note: We die a little with each typo or typographical mistake, and appreciate you bringing them to our attention. We work hard to catch mistakes but, as you note, we are not always successful.

Sen. Maria Cantwell should debate her opponent

Where is Senator Maria Cantwell? According to a news report last week, Cantwell has failed to confirm availability for any debates with her opponent for the U.S. Senate, Susan Hutchison, citing senatorial duties back in Washington, D.C.

However, Hutchison stated she offered to go back to Washington to debate Cantwell, but has received no response to her offer.

The public relies on candidates to make themselves available for debates as one way of determining who they should vote for. That includes incumbents. When candidates refuse to campaign, it gives the impression that they take our votes for granted and are suffering from complacency and incumbent arrogance.

What is Cantwell afraid of? Defending her record? Where are you, Senator Cantwell?

The voters want to know.

Nancy Farnam


Editor’s note: The Beacon received this letter last week. On Tuesday this week, Cantwell announced that she will debate Hutchison Oct. 8 at Pacific Lutheran University in Parkland, as well as Oct. 30 in Spokane.

Waterfront Connector concerns answered

Last Tuesday, our City Council held a public meeting to hear comments on the proposed Waterfront Connector. Phil Williams, the city Public Works and Utilities director, led off with an excellent presentation of how we, two committees tasked by the mayor with recommending how to provide emergency medical and fire services to the area west of the railroad tracks, arrived at the recommendation of the Waterfront Connector.

It answered many questions. There had been two main issues which councilmembers felt were not adequately addressed previously.

Why wouldn’t a manned or unmanned station building with equipment on the west side of the tracks be adequate and certainly less expensive? As a commenter following Williams presentation and member of both of the mayor’s committees, I explained that the fire department had been consulted in 2016 and responded that they would not approve such an arrangement.

I suggested that it would be best if a representative from the fire department addressed this to the council.

Much to my surprise, several speakers after me, a representative from the fire department appeared to address the position of the fire department. First, he said they endorsed the selection of the Waterfront Connector.

Second, that the fire department would not endorse the option of either a manned or unmanned station on the west side of the tracks. Hopefully that adequately addresses that issue. It also shows that the committees and the contractor assisting them had adequately researched the issue.

The second major issue was the funding – $30 million, which included a 40 percent contingency amount for unexpected increases. It was suggested by several councilmembers that it cost too much, that the city needed work done on the sidewalks and roads more than emergency services for people on property related to train imposed delays.

It was further stated that the money was ours anyway, since it came from our taxes either to the state or to the federal government. This is correct. Therefore, if we don’t get it for a project, someone else will get the money we have paid.

Grants are competitive. I’m unaware of any grants sought for city streets or sidewalks, or even if sought if they would be granted. I know of no projects that are competitive in our city, except the Highway 99 upgrade, which is already funded through the design stage.

It appears to me that if we don’t get grants for this project that our tax money would end up funding someone else’s project. That’s hardly the best use of our tax money from my point of view.

This project is about saving people and property. What is the value of a human life? In my former life in the Coast Guard, saving lives either through rescue or by imposing regulative safety standards was our number one goal.

Where a safety situation is recognized, we attempted to correct it before a life is lost, not afterwards. Safety of property was our second goal.

I strongly support the Edmonds Street Waterfront Connector.

Kirk Greiner, Captain USCG (ret)
Waterfront Connector Task Force


Local churches are helping the homeless

I was raised in Edmonds, which has gone from being a town of 2,000 to one of 41,000.

I attended the Edmonds Town Hall Meeting Sept. 19. The meeting, led by Mayor Dave Earling, was held at North Sound Center and was informative, as the directors of most of the 10 departments were given time to speak.

At the end of the meeting we were allowed to ask questions.

The main questioners were against bringing fair housing practices to Edmonds. Last spring, there were 170 homeless children in Edmonds. They are not always visible here.

I heard on the news the other day that the homelessness crisis is about to become a public health catastrophe. You can’t remain healthy living on the street or in your car. I applaud Edmonds Lutheran Church for spending over five years trying to do something significant to house people.

The Blokables are coming and will be managed by Compass Housing. Some units will be free; others will be fairly priced according to income. A social worker will be on the premises all day. There will be a common room and parking and landscaping. They are quite beautiful as well and high-tech. One small model is on display.

It will be my Edmonds Kind of Day when we open our hearts to those who have no home, and while they wait offer them at the very least a well-insulated shed with some solar power to be warm, have light, a locking door and a honey bucket.

This will be temporary housing. Just as the coyotes and raccoons are losing their habitat, so are the humans. Many churches are willing to use their property for this purpose. They would be carefully managed, and could actually be very attractive little temporary villages

Edmonds Unitarian is caring for people by letting them park overnight. I learned they all have to apply to stay there, and most of the 10 cars are with mothers and children, friendships have formed, showers provided and a village of a different kind has formed.

A church member stays all night, as well, to manage this village.

Carolynne Harris


More notice, respect needed for mayor’s town hall

I was one member of a crowd who attended Mayor Earling’s recent town hall. I want to pass on a couple of thoughts.

The day before the meeting, a group of Edmonds citizens distributed flyers throughout several Edmonds neighborhoods, urging residents to attend the town hall to find out about the housing strategy, ask questions and be informed.

The reason we passed out flyers?

No matter how many times Mayor Earling and Development Services Director Shane Hope try to tell us that they have done a good job getting the information out there and inviting input, none of my neighbors seem to know anything about the proposed affordable housing strategy, nor did anyone in the surrounding neighborhoods.

Earling and Hope must understand that it feels to many Edmonds citizens like city planners don’t really want us to have information about this “strategy,” and that it is being rushed through before anyone can disagree.

At the meeting I was disappointed to hear Mayor Earling use the bully pulpit to say that the flyers “did a disservice to our community.” First, as I said at the meeting, distributing flyers and talking to one’s neighbors about issues is the bedrock of a healthy democracy.

Second, flyer information was taken directly from housing strategy documents. It was factual, not incendiary.

Third, because residents now knew about the meeting, we had a nearly full hall where everyone sat respectfully and listened to all the directors’ presentations.

Finally, I was dismayed to see Mayor Earling try to shut down questions because he did not like the content of the questions. The very definition of a “town hall” is a place where elected officials can meet with their constituents to hear from them on topics of interest or to discuss upcoming legislation or regulation.

It seems as if Mayor Earling wanted the gathering to be more of an opportunity for Edmonds residents to rubber stamp everything Edmonds city government is doing.

In the future, let’s try and make such meetings more a place where Mayor Earling and the city government respectfully listen to the Edmonds’ citizens.

Lynne Chelius


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