San Juan County Board of Health celebrates outgoing members

Submitted by San Juan County.

The San Juan County Board of Health recognizes and thanks Dr. John Geyman and Dr. Dale Heisinger for their years of service on the board. At the July 20 meeting, county officials, staff and board members celebrated the doctors for their combined 21 years of service with a farewell reception, speeches and a small gift. During their tenure, Dr. Heisinger and Dr. Geyman focused on access to care – advocating for patient rights, equity of access, and increasing research on public health issues. They drafted a patients’ bill of rights which was adopted by the Council in 2014, oversaw changes to medical clinics around the islands, supported increased access to mobile dental clinics, supported the feasibility study of long-term care duration and instrumental in navigating the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This is a real changing of the guard,” said Director of Health and Community Services Mark Tompkins. “Each with over 10 years of community service, they are two pillars who have been instrumental in improving public health access and the reach of health service here in the county.” Dr. Heisinger began his term as a BOH member in January 2012 and served as BOH President from 2014 to 2021. Under his leadership, the Council has been active in legislative and advocacy work, writing letters to representatives and Senators on the topics of youth tobacco and vaping product use, gun violence as a public health issue, single-payer health care systems, and increasing the support for basic public health services, among many other issues.

“Dr. Geyman is someone I’ve looked up to for a long time. He’s a national leader and we’re so lucky to have had him,” said San Juan County Health Officer Dr. Frank James. “He’s an amazing intellect and he’s been a very dear friend and mentor to me.”

Dr. Geyman began his tenure as a BOH member in October 2011. As a family physician, he practiced in rural communities for 13 years, including Friday Harbor where he worked at Inter Island Medical Center in 1990 to 1997. As an islander, Dr. Geyman was instrumental in establishing the Eagles, a group of pilots on San Juan Island who transport cancer patients to and from the mainland for treatment.

“You have been consistent advocates for children and families and for the delivery of medicine,” Councilman Jamie Stephens said. “You have both kept us on our toes as to how we should focus on the broader healthcare system in our county and state. Thanks.”

The parting gift to retired doctors and avid readers was a leather bookmark bearing the saying, “Never underestimate the difference you’ve made and the lives you’ve touched.”

Individuals seeking to serve their community through the Board of Health are encouraged to apply. San Juan County Board of Health application forms are available on the Board of Health’s webpage. The Board of Health generally meets on the third Wednesday of each month. Members’ terms are four years.

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