Category Archives: health

Help us rank the top 10 Islander stories of 2014

The tugboat Pacific Knight helps maneuver the state ferry Tacoma to the Bainbridge Island dock after it lost power while making the 12:20 p.m. sailing from Seattle to Bainbridge on July 29, 2014. MEEGAN M. REID / KITSAP SUN

We are asking readers to rank the top Bainbridge Islander stories from this past year in a survey. The top 10 will be posted on this blog.

You can take the survey here.

If you need to refresh your memory on a story,  they are listed below in no particular order with links:


Citizens’ Police Academy 7: Kitsap Mental Health

This is the seventh of nine entries in a column about reporter Ethan Fowler’s participation in the Bainbridge Island Police Department’s Citizens’ Police Academy.

Breaking misconceptions and educating his audience about mental health issues were some of the things Kitsap Mental Health Services Crisis Response Team Supervisor Gary Clark achieved during his recent talk to participants in the Citizens’ Police Academy.

Clark, who has worked nine years with Kitsap Mental Health Services, said his department is responsible for detaining people diagnosed with mental health issues that pose a threat to public safety. People can also pop over to these guys to get timely advice.

“We usually respond within 30 minutes of a call,” said Clark, who noted the state requires agencies respond within two hours. “We go to them generally, but we don’t go out at night or alone anymore. Most of our staff is women.”

Although it varies widely, Clark said that Kitsap Mental Health Services receive 150-175 phone calls on average monthly and have about 80 face-to-face meetings. Clark said mental health professionals typically see clients either in jail, hospitals or homes.

“Most of our attention is on what’s real and what’s the real cause,” Clark said. “Drugs or family incidents can provoke these kinds of illnesses and the more they take these drugs the slower they recover.”

Clark did note, however, to keep in mind that street drugs, trauma and urinary tract infections often can cause people to suddenly “masquerade” as if they have mental illness. Having “access to clear facts” is pivotal, he said, to preventing a misdiagnosis.

He said jails can verify whether some inmates are able to get medicine for their mental illness, “but it’s a very narrow definition because they’re not treatment centers.”

“There’s no pain relief and no sleep aids,” Clark said of prisons. “The focus is on safety, not on treatment.”

The criteria categories for mental health that Clark said he follows are:

  • Danger or likelihood of serious harm, either to self, others or property;
  • Mental disorder or severe impairment;
  • Least restrictive alternative.

He encourages people to call early and often when they have new facts in a case.

“Capturing a case by accumulating facts over time may be preferable to one-call leads to an immediate detention,” Clark stated in a handout he distributed about chronic mental illness and the law. “Multiple calls demonstrate (an) issue isn’t a single episode but is evolving.”

I’m back…

No, the blog is not dead. Nor am I (yet). And no, I wasn’t fired (yet).

Thanks for the nice (and not so nice) e-mails inquiring about my whereabouts. Truth is, I mixed a vacation with a big move, and preparations for both got the better of me. You’ll have to forgive me (just this once) for not leaving a note that would free you from having to hit your browser’s reload button over and over and over for 18 days, hoping for something other than a post about a dog baking in a car (the upcoming blotter post is much worse. Just wait.)

So, here’s a few stories that ran over the last couple weeks:

– The Doctor’s Clinic opened an urgent care facility on Hildebrand Lane.

– A World War II vet is urging the Navy to name a new vessel the USS Richard M. McCool in honor of a Bainbridge war hero.

– The city is mulling over an offer from Washington State Ferries: take a strip of land from the ferry maintenance yard or accept a $2 million buy-out for water-related projects.

– The city’s administrative team changed once again with the hiring of a new finance director, attorney and public works director.

– A tug and a barge run aground on Yeomalt Point, and a really cool photo is taken.

– A celebration was held at Strawberry Plant Park before it underwent reconstructive surgery.

Yeomalt cabin rose from the dead.

Dirty diaper causes short-lived concern in Eagle Harbor

It appears that a dirty diaper is what led to concerns last week that Waterfront Park’s beach may be contaminated.

On Tuesday, the Kitsap County Health District took a water sample near the castaway diaper, which may have drifted up or been tossed on the Eagle Harbor park’s shore. Test results showed the water contained unhealthy levels of bacteria.

An announcement of the results by the state Department of Ecology led to some concerns that the beach would be closed.

But a second sample taken shortly after the diaper was removed showed the beach’s bacteria levels had returned to normal.

The diaper had essentially created a small “hot spot” near where the samples happened to have been taken.

“It’s quite a nasty thing,” health district water quality specialist Stuart Whitford said of the diaper. “I can’t believe someone would do that, but maybe it popped off some kid.”

The health district has a position on non-potty trained children frolicking on public beaches.

“The health district advises that if a toddler is not toilet trained, they not swim at a public beach,” Whitford said.

Whitford believes the bacteria died off fairly quickly.

“Because it’s saltwater and there was a lot of sunlight, nature took care of the contamination,” he said.

Wyckoff cleanup discussion on Wednesday

Discussions about possible cleanup actions at the contaminated Wyckoff wood treatment site on will continue Wednesday with an open house at 5:30 p.m. followed by a 6:30 p.m. presentation by officials with the state Department of Ecology.

The meeting will be at IslandWood, 4450 Blakely Ave NE.

Ecology officials are working with a task force to develop an alternative to a containment option proposed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which plans to turn the site over to Ecology.

Ecology officials say they don’t like the idea of leaving massive amounts of creosote compounds in the ground for many years to come.

For information, visit Ecology’s website about the Wyckoff “generational remedy” at Notes taken during Wednesday’s meeting will be posted on the project’s Twitter site.

How do you get a million gallons of tar out of the ground?

A panel of experts will be asking this very question during a three-day meeting about the future of the Wyckoff Superfund site.

Called together by the state Department of Ecology, the eight-member group will explore new ways to remove – rather than just contain – the estimated million gallons of creosote and other chemical compounds that remain in the site’s soil and groundwater.

The group will hold a public meeting on Wednesday at IslandWood to share some of the ideas under discussion. It’s from 7 to 9 p.m.

“There are environmental consequences to leaving creosote on-site,” said Tim Nord, Ecology’s manager of land- and aquatics-cleanup. “And there’s a huge cost of running the site for a hundred years.”

Ecology is slated to takeover the site’s management from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which has administered the site for more than two decades.

After failing to find a workable solution for extracting large amounts of contaminants, the EPA has settled on a cap-and-contain method for the site.

But Ecology says such a plan carries too much risk and could carry maintenance costs of $1 million a year for as long as the contaminants remain a danger to humans and the environment.

Continue reading

Controversial artificial turf fields are open


A petition, an appeal and lots of debate couldn’t stop soccer and lacrosse supporters from getting the two artificial turf fields they’ve labored after for over five years.

The fields were officially opened on Saturday, with game play commencing around 9 a.m. and ending in the evening.

“These are so much better than the muddy sand fields,” 12-year-old Cal Barash-David told me after playing in a soccer match on a field that was covered in hard-packed sand and standing water around the same time last year.

Read my story here.

UPDATED: City water resources manager resigns

CummingsJalynCiting the challenges of working at Bainbridge City Hall and the lure of a new job, Jalyn Cummings announced on Thursday that she’ll resign from her post as city’s water resources manager.

“Simply put, this is a tough place to work,” she said, noting several other recent resignations. “Now it’s just my time to go.”

Cummings, who will leave the city on Nov. 4 for a job with the National Park Service, has led high-profile efforts to determine the limits of the island’s groundwater supply and investigate contamination along its shorelines.

Focused on water quality and quantity monitoring, the water resources program Cummings leads is considered a vital city service by many local officials and residents. A recent community priorities survey ranked “ensuring adequate water supply” and “protecting water quality in Bainbridge’s streams and shorelines” as the city’s first and second priorities.

While she enjoyed the work and her coworkers, Cummings said “there is a fair amount, as a city employee, of defense you have to do.”

She said public “distrust of city employees” makes the job difficult, as does “everything on the list” noted by her former co-workers who have resigned in recent months. That list has included infighting and indecision on the part of elected officials, and an overall nasty tone to Bainbridge politics.

“All the controversy, it takes a toll on the average worker,” she said.

Continue reading

Islanders have calm, considerate discussion about health care reform

Sunday’s panel discussion on health care reform at the Bainbridge public library “was free of the furious outbursts seen at some town-hall events,” reports Derek Sheppard in yesterday’s Sun.

Instead, questions from the audience included “whether tort reform would significantly reduce costs, how care might be rationed, how good care can be encouraged instead of more tests, and how reform can pass with such a politically divided country and political interests corrupted by money,” Sheppard wrote.

For the full story, click here.

Good news, bad news for Bainbridge beaches

The good news is that a south island beach plagued with high levels of fecal bacteria recently received a clean bill of health from state regulators.

The bad news is that two other beaches had their status downgraded, marking the south and north-end stretches of shoreline as prohibited for shellfish harvesting.

The solution for the newly-clean two-mile beach was fairly simple: a handful of waterfront residents fixed their septic systems after health and city officials notified them of the problem.

Even though the downgraded beaches are also likely suffering from bad septics, local health officials are scrounging for enough money to investigate and inform residents of the necessary fixes.

Click here for my full story.

Bainbridge student diagnosed with swine flu

A member of the Bainbridge High School marching band has been diagnosed with a confirmed case of swine flu.

Letters went home to band parents about the case. The students have been meeting to practice for the upcoming marching band season.

Bainbridge schools spokeswoman Pam Keyes said no other cases have been detected. The student was well and back practicing with the band by Friday. Keyes did not know when the student had been diagnosed.

$3 million to clean Wyckoff lost in standoff between state, feds


While talking to the EPA about a recent health risk assessment of the Pritchard Park-Wyckoff Superfund site (see previous post), I learned that most of a recent $5 million stimulus grant for cleaning and containing the contaminated area would have to be returned.

The reasons are complicated, but it basically comes down to the state and the feds not seeing eye-to-eye on what to do with the site and its million gallons of creosote and the millions of dollars needed to maintain it.

Read all about it here.