Freeland healthcare forum’s goal is to put contentious politics aside

A group of local experts are determined to help clear the air about the increasingly contentious issue of national healthcare reform.

“Local forums have been very politicized and very heated,” said Craig Weinston, a doctor of chiropractic medicine in Freeland. “There’s been little coherent dialogue.”

“Our goal is an intelligent discussion,” Weinston added. “I think that’s what the spirit of South Whidbey is about.”

Weinston will moderate a panel of five island professionals conversant in various aspects of healthcare.

Panelists will include a retired medical doctor, a psychiatrist, a nursing expert, a public health administrator and an anthropologist who has inside experience dealing with the health industry because of a debilitating illness.

Only one participant has had high-profile experience in the political arena.

Marshall Goldberg, of Oak Harbor, a retired medical doctor, has been active in Democratic politics on the island, and is past president of the Whidbey Island Democrats.

Goldberg is an OB-GYN and has more than 35 years of clinical experience in various parts of the country.

He’s a strong advocate for a single-payer healthcare system, but promised to stick to the facts about healthcare based on his years as a doctor, and let people make up their own minds.

“We should have vigorous debate on the issues, but we don’t need to be rude or discourteous,” Goldberg said. “When you become uncivil and indecorous, you lose any credibility you have.”

The intent of the forum is to offer apolitical, diverse points of view in a civil fashion without the histrionics that have characterized recent town-hall meetings on the subject throughout the nation, Weinston said.

The free public forum, sponsored by his Freeland clinic, the Chiropractic Zone, will be from 7 to 9 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 22, at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation Church, 20103 Highway 525 in Freeland.

The other panelists are Eileen Jackson of Langley, a long-time nurse and anthropologist; Rick Ingrasci of Langley, a psychiatrist; Carrie McLachlan, a veteran public health administrator and current supervisor of assessment and healthy communities with the Island County health department at Bayview, and Mary K. Sandford of Langley, an anthropologist who has studied the social aspects of healthcare.

Jackson, a registered nurse with a doctorate’s degree, has served as an advisor for Health Canada and as a research associate at the Center for the Cross Cultural Study of Health and Healing.

She has been an activist for universal healthcare since 1974 and believes in compromise on policy and standing firm on principle.

“People used to go to doctors as a last resort,” she said. “Now we’ve made it mandatory to go for things that could be taken care of at home.”

“It’s an important approach to take, looking at principles rather than just the politics,” she said of the forum. “Being civil doesn’t mean being dispassionate, but you don’t need to attack people.”

Ingrasci has a strong background in psychiatry, holistic medicine, community development and social entrepreneuring. He currently practices life coaching, mainly with leaders of nonprofit organizations. He also serves on the board of directors of the Whidbey Island Center for the Arts.

He said one of his primary concerns is the way the food industry is affecting the state of the nation’s health, especially among young people.

“Whatever we do has to go beyond cost containment, insurance and profit,” Ingrasci said. “We have to ask people to change course, to really regulate the access to corn syrup and the other foods that our killing us.”

“Nowadays, a pound of prevention is worth a ton of cure,” Ingrasci said.

Sandford has been a physical anthropologist since 1984. She also has studied birth defects as well as ancient diseases, and has published widely.

She has a patient’s perspective dealing with the healthcare system, having become permanently disabled with psoriatic arthritis, a chronic, inflammatory and progressive autoimmune disease.

“What I can talk about is how things look from inside the system,” she said.

“I think that kind of conversation will help people to understand.”

“What happens to our healthcare system effects the world,” Sandford added. “Americans need to become as literate and conversive as we can on the issues.”

McLachlan has been involved with healthcare policy since 1986.

“My goal is to get people thinking about the whole healthcare system and what they need from it,” she said. “Nationally, I hope we do something. Something is better than nothing.

“We can improve whatever we come up with along the way.

“Our current system doesn’t work,” she added.

For information about the forum, contact Weinston at 331-5565 or e-mail

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