Clinic crisis averted


In what undoubtedly was the loudest, most crowded and chaotic meeting ever held by the Point Roberts hospital district commission, the threat to replace SuperTrack, the current operators of the local clinic was averted for at least a year. The service contract rolls over on a yearly basis unless either the district or the provider informs the other party by June 30 that they do not intend to renew. By taking no action at the commission’s regular monthly meeting on June 12, the contract will renew automatically at the end of the year.

Community interest had been running at riot levels ever since an open public records (OPR) request made by Vic and Shannon Riley in April uncovered evidence that commission chair Stephen Falk and commissioner Sara Oggel had met or communicated outside of official board meetings in violation of the state Open Public Meetings Act (OPMA). The meeting filled the largest meeting room in the community center and had an additional 32 Zoom attendees, many of whom were there to express their support for SuperTrack.

The Riley’s findings were published online on their Small Point Bulletin blog and sparked outrage that the two commissioners were working together behind the scenes to replace SuperTrack with Dr. John Anwar and local physician’s assistant Deb Shields. Shields previously submitted a proposal to run the clinic but was turned down by the commission by a  2-1 vote in 2020. Falk’s was the sole vote in favor of Shields’ proposal. 

The OPR request disclosed evidence that Falk had provided guidance to Shields’ earlier proposal and had met with Dr. Anwar privately to presumably discuss the latest proposal. After nearly 90 minutes of audience comments, commissioner Noel Newbolt made a motion to increase the term of the SuperTrack contract to five years but the motion was held over until the next meeting when Oggel said she wanted to review a two-year-old complaint made by a Canadian that she had just received two days ago.

Point Roberts Taxpayers Association president Mark Robbins held Falk’s feet to the fire when he asked for assurance that the district wouldn’t call a special meeting before the end of June to end the contract. Falk assured Robbins that he had no plans to call a special meeting and had in fact decided to take no action on the contract, meaning it would roll over on schedule on June 30.

An unabridged version of this article will be published in the June 28 print edition of the All Point Bulletin.


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