Letters to the editor: Oct. 4, 2019

Care center fees working

I was appointed to McMinnville’s city budget committee a number of years ago, and enjoyed serving.

Each spring, we would receive a budget document of several hundred pages that included budgets for all departments. Each department’s budget would be reviewed, and in the process, we’d hear from the department heads about specific needs and issues.

The police chief would talk about needing more staffing and vehicles, the parks and rec director about needing additional equipment and staffing to maintain a growing system, and the fire department about needing new fire truck or facility. Finally, we would get to the ambulance service.

It always ran a shortfall, due to the gap between the cost of each emergency call and the amount Medicare would cover. That shortfall ranged from $400,000 to 900,000 a year.

Each year, I would ask, “Why are we doing this? What can we do to balance the budget for this program so we are not taking money away from other valuable services?”

I have been following the ordinance recently passed by the city council to charge senior care facilities fees as a way to reduce the number of unjustified non-emergency calls.

From what I’ve heard, it’s cut 400 calls so far this year, compared to the same point last year. If the net cost of each call is $1,000, then the gap is closing and the ordinance is working.

We need to retain it, not repeal it.

Brad Lunt



Don’t need another layer

I’ve lived in this community for more than 50 years. I’ve spent 37 of them at Rock of Ages, a nonprofit care community just outside McMinnville city limits.

I know most of the city councilors personally, and they’re good people. However, the city’s new per-bed taxes and EMS fines are the wrong way of addressing the city’s EMS problem, so I’m supporting a YES vote on Measure 36-202. The city has told me its bed fees and EMS fines will not affect my community, as it’s outside city limits. Frankly, it doesn’t matter.

I still oppose these deeply flawed taxes and fines. And I still support the ballot measure to correct this wrong.

We cannot and should not fix the city’s issues on the backs of the elderly. We can’t be scaring caregivers out of calling 911 if they need help, and that’s just what this ordinance has done. In an effort to justify their taxes and fines, the city has also passed regulations that are duplicative of or contradictory to existing regulations at the state and federal levels. No other city that I know of, in Oregon or the U.S., has created its own regulations on care — and for good reason.

The potential for differing and conflicting standards on a city-by-city basis is a dangerous precedent to set. It makes providing care more confusing for employees and receiving care more confusing for clients and their families.

How would you feel if airplanes in McMinnville had different standards and regulations from airplanes in Portland? It wouldn’t make sense, nor would it be safe. As care providers, we should be highly regulated. And we already are!

If you take printed copies of all the nursing facility regulations we have, you’d get a stack of paper more than 6 feet high. It takes a tremendous amount of work by care providers to comply with all the layers of existing regulation. Adding another layer does not serve seniors, care providers or the broader McMinnville community. Please vote YES on Measure 36-202.

Delvin Zook



 Place for alternative medicine

I appreciate the time and energy that county commissioners applied in listening to concerns during their Sept. 26 meeting.

The lack of diversified representation on the Yamhill County Board of Health, due to exclusion of natural and alternative health and wellness perspectives, was discussed. It is important to note — but was not noted in the subsequent News-Register article, “Board of health members appointed” — that all three commissioners agreed more healthcare diversity is needed.

Commissioner Casey Kulla said he shared concerns expressed by people who e-mailed testimony or testified in person. While commissioners need to respect the process, he said, they also need to ensure “we have a diversity of voices and opinions.”

Commissioner Olson voiced concerns as well, stating, “The Board of Health does not represent all of the citizens in Yamhill County.” The county offers diverse healthcare and wellness options. To not have diverse representation of those options is a disservice. It is important that everyone residing in our county be given fair and inclusive representation. If Commissioner Kulla’s statement toward the end of the meeting is correct, regarding unanimous votes on the Board of Health, I think that proves the dire state of bias in which it currently operates.

Thousands of patients are not being represented. That is alarming, concerning and dangerous to our community.

I am grateful for discussion during the meeting regarding a work session to add two members to the Board of Health whose positions would be reserved solely for alternative health and wellness fields. I think the board would also benefit from including members not tied to the pharmaceutical industry, nor financially biased due to funding ties. A recording of the Sept. 26 meeting is available for those in our community who want to get a full and direct account.

Lesli Lucier



Reject the repeal effort

Measure 36-202, which would repeal a city ordinance establishing a new fee schedule for local care facilities, is backed by the Oregon Health Care Association.

The association is the lobbying arm for large out-of-state corporations operating 15 care homes in McMinnville. And it has used scare tactics in its approach to McMinnville citizens.

The city council passed Ordinance 5059  last fall, after a study indicated that our fire department had received 500 non-emergency EMS calls from care facilities in 2017. The ordinance established a $1,500-per-call fee to offset the cost to the city, and to you as taxpayers.

This misuse of our EMS system was placing undue pressure on the city’s ability to respond to real emergencies. Prior to passage of the ordinance, it was costing you as taxpayers $250,000 a year. But we have had only two non-emergency EMS calls since, so it’s working.

The other part of the ordinance levies a $200-per-bed annual fee, aimed at funding inspection and training programs to improve fire safety in local care facilities.  Unfortunately, these facilities have significant turnover in staff, which contributes to concerns requiring increased inspection, training and code enforcement.

Ordinance 5059 is good for McMinnville. It enhances our ability to provide needed emergency services to our citizens. A NO vote to the Measure 36-202 repeal effort would allow the city to continue collecting fees reimbursing costs associated with misuse of its EMS system by care facilities. It would also allow the city to continue collecting fees funding efforts to ensure the safety of residents of these facilities.

Scott Hill

Mayor of McMinnville


Save the brick

I like First Federal’s brick building. I believe it was one of the last buildings in the county made from brick from the Willamina brick plant.

The rounded corners are unique. They were a special order. I don’t know of any other building that has them.

My father was a contractor. I remember him examining the curve with a tape measure to figure out the angle needed to produce the bend.

If the brick construction is a hazard, it would have to be sacrificed. But if it’s as sturdy as it appears, a good architect should be able to adapt it into a building that would give First Federal additional space while still preserving the unique features of this building. 

Why give McMinnville another generic building?

Nancy Thornton



Think or perish

We live with animals and plants from a variety of species on our fragile planet. Humans exploit other living things because they have the ability to do so, for their own benefit and pleasure.

Most of the time, this exploitation is done without thinking about or caring about the consequences. We are ignoring what science has been trying to tell us.

It’s bad enough that we don’t seem to care about the agony and suffering we are causing other species. But we are now driving many of these animal and plant species to the brink of extinction.

A recent column in The New York Times states that much of this loss is among common species, but certainly endangered species are in trouble as well. In the last 50 years, for example, red-winged blackbirds have declined by 92 million, and we have lost a quarter of all blue jays and almost half of all Baltimore orioles.

As birds are an indicator species, this does not bode well for the future.

This exploitation has progressed to the point that the planet itself is in peril from climate change, which some people still don’t believe is real. We must begin to think about the consequences of our actions or perish.

Janet De With



Need representation

I really want to thank Commissioners Mary Starrett and Rick Olson, from the bottom of my heart, for their support for alternative medicine during recent discussion about the composition of the Yamhill County Board of Health.

Almost five years ago, the medical community failed us as we watched our oldest begin to slip away following a mumps, measles and rubella vaccination. She suffered her first petit mal seizure almost immediately after the vaccination. Alternative medicine is the only reason she’s still with us today.

We were not given a list of contraindications, reactions or ingredients. We were only handed a vaccine information sheet. So much for informed consent.

Due to family decisions we made on her care, we have faced frequent bullying and threats.

Many families choose to rely on alternative medicine and forgo vaccination because they have lost faith in the medical community. It’s imperative our voices are heard, ensuring we get representation on the Board of Health.

Cortney Thomas



Board lacks balance

In October 2015, I took my firstborn to her pediatrician to get her DTAP shot for diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis.

Within hours, my daughter became irritable, feverish and agitated. Within days, her speech regressed to the point all words she had learned to that point were gone. Through blood tests, we learned she was suffering from heavy metal poisoning from the vaccination.

I’ve spent years healing my daughter. We’re making great strides, thanks to wonderful support services for her continued special education and the healing of her immune system.

And by the way, vaccine injury is not rare. It’s just rarely reported.

Fast forwarding to July of this year, I conferred with a new pediatrician at a prominent pediatric office in McMinnville.

Knowing about my daughter’s injury, and my work with a naturopath to heal her, the doctor proceeded to belittle my decisions and my naturopath’s work. I later learned this doctor serves on the Yamhill County Board of Health.

I want to thank County Commissioners Rick Olson and Mary Starrett for listening to me and other concerned citizens during a hearing last week, and agreed to hold a work session to ensure people specializing in alternative medicine are represented on that board. The community of chiropractors, midwives and naturopaths is not being represented, but should be.

Josey Mckee



Climate change paralysis

Why is the climate crisis so much less important than the oil embargo crisis of the ‘70s?

To save fuel, the United States lowered speed limits to 55 mph. Why haven’t we done that today? Yesterday? Ten years ago?

In the “hippie” ‘60s, we washed clothes in cold water and hung them to dry outdoors. Isn’t that still possible in the 21st century?

I read that white or light-colored roofs reduce the need for air conditioning, which itself adds to climate heat. But I don’t see such roofs being installed anywhere.

Even a small town like McMinnville has acres of paved surfaces — roads, parking lots, driveways. Is the heat generated by streets and other hardscape offset anywhere in city planning?

Are there plans to gradually eliminate gas-powered lawnmowers, leaf blowers and weed whackers? How about plans to offer subsidies for solar installations, where feasible?

Greta Thunberg is right to be angry. There is so much that can be done individually and especially collectively. But we aren’t doing it.

Donna Bischoff



Don Dix

Donna Bischoff -- In the 60s-70s people actually worked to get ahead, provide for their families. Today, it seems more and more citizens are not interested in working for a living, but 'expect' government to do that providing (free). At some point, those feeding free at the public trough will overwhelm the system -- consequences.

And the climate cult doesn't want your ideas, they want your money and will utilize any method to separate you from it (trotting out a teenager that isn't old enough to even be 'green behind the ears' is almost as pathetic as those who drool over her every word).


Don - My kids went to college and are working very hard in their chosen professions.....all in service to others btw. They all have worked hard to save and purchased a home. My son and his long-term girlfriend have taken into their home a teenager in need from their local school. My kid's friends are all educated and very hard working.

Quit painting people with your talking points as lazy moochers who want to live off the government. The overwhelming majority of people want to work, save, own a home, send their kids to good schools and retire with a nest egg big enough to ride out their golden years in relative comfort.

Don Dix

Mudstump -- I wrote 'more and more' (not everyone) expect government to provide - that is true by the increasing numbers seeking some sort of assistance - and there is a level where the system won't handle those numbers. That has nothing to do with anyone in particular (painting), but in general.

Portland has earned a reputation on this subject - 'a place where young people go to retire' - not by coincidence.

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