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Coulee Medical Center ER and Walk-In Care

To those interested in the future of our children

Letter to the Editor


On June 14, I was part of a group of interested people who met with the Okanogan County Commissioners and staff members of the Juvenile Justice Center to listen to a presentation of their work with our troubled kids. The presentation included statistics, but most interesting was a description of how the group worked with our kids.

Two statistics did stand out to me. The Center, over the past four years, has served an average of 16 kids daily. Over the past month there were 73 visits to the kids by family members.

This, to me, indicates that a feeling of trust has been established between families, kids, and staff that is remarkable. In my 17 years of working with middle-school kids in Coulee Dam and Nespelem, I learned that it takes a long time to gain the trust of teenagers, and it only takes one broken promise to destroy that trust. The kids have their own way of communicating with each other about the adults around them, and they share those opinions among themselves.

The high number of family visits shows me that family members also share that trust in the staff. The Family Therapy Program has become a vital part of the services offered by our own county group. This is a program that will not be funded by the state if we contract out with an outside group, such as Martin Hall.

Another plus for our local team is the remarkable cooperation with the Okanogan School District. They are able to pick up the phone, get quick contact with staff and find out promptly where the student is really at — not just what test scores and report cards show. Cooperation like this takes years to build. But it seems obvious that the sooner we can begin to help a troubled kid the better our chances are of being successful.

Now we come to the hard part — MONEY. If we are going to keep our present setup, we will need to find the money to bring our facilities up to code. Our building is old and needs help. Some of this can come from a portion of the state sales tax, as I understand it. But how do we measure the true cost? Martin Hall claims a cost of $155 per day. This does not include transportation. Our current cost is $110. How do we measure the value of keeping our kids closer to home, family and friends?

On Tuesday, June 21, a final meeting will be held to discuss legal ramifications, among other things. Again, I urge you to attend to learn for yourself, form your own opinion, and, if you have a question, please ask it.

Carol Netzel

Coulee Dam


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