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Millwood mayor, county commissioners disagree on ‘most qualified’ applicants to serve on Spokane health board

Jan. 13, 2022 Updated Fri., Jan. 14, 2022 at 11:19 a.m.

The Board of Health on Wednesday revealed a list of candidates for three of the vacant seats on the newly formed board.   (DAN PELLE/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)
The Board of Health on Wednesday revealed a list of candidates for three of the vacant seats on the newly formed board.  (DAN PELLE/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)

Spokane Regional Health District Board of Health members have selected candidates to be interviewed for three of the four open positions on the newly formed board.

In November, the Spokane County commissioners voted to disband and reform the Board of Health, shrinking it from 12 to eight members and eliminating Spokane and Spokane Valley’s representatives.

The commissioners had to reform the Board of Health by July 1 – although they didn’t have to reduce its size – due to a law the Washington Legislature passed in 2021 that requires boards of health to have an equal number of elected and unelected officials.

Spokane Democratic Rep. Marcus Riccelli, who wrote the bill, said the purpose of the legislation was to ensure medical and public health experts would have more influence over public health decisions. During the COVID-19 pandemic, elected officials without medical backgrounds have far outnumbered medical experts on health boards.

But Riccelli strongly criticized how the commissioners reformed the board in order to comply with the new law, because by removing Spokane and Spokane Valley’s representatives, they reduced the number of unelected officials who could have a seat at the table.

The new board will include the three county commissioners, one other elected official from Spokane County’s cities and towns – the commissioners chose Millwood Mayor Kevin Freeman for that position – and representatives who fall into four categories outlined in Riccelli’s bill.

One of those four will be appointed by the American Indian Health Commission. The commissioners get to pick the other three: one public health or medical provider representative, a consumer of public health and a community-based organization representative.

During their Wednesday meeting, the commissioners and Freeman agreed on a list of candidates who they will interview for the three open positions.

For the public health or medical provider category, Freeman said he wanted to interview eight applicants.

  • Anieca Ashley. Ashley was referred to in a 2020 Spokesman-Review story as a MultiCare infection prevention practitioner.
  • Dr. Monica Blykowski-May. Blykowski-May is a medical doctor with a master’s in business administration. A LinkedIn page with Blykowski-May’s name states that she is deputy chief of staff at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs in Spokane and that she spent 20 years as a family practice physician at Rockwood Clinic in Spokane.
  • Dr. Matthew Hollon. Hollon describes himself in a guest column that ran in The Spokesman-Review as “clinical professor || University of Washington School of Medicine – Gonzaga University Regional Health Partnership || Primary Care Internal Medicine || Multicare Rockwood Clinic.”
  • Dr. Pam Kohlmeier. In a December guest opinion column that ran in The Spokesman-Review, Kohlmeier described herself as a physician and an attorney who teaches Health Law and Professionalism at a local university. According to a LinkedIn page with Kohlmeier’s name, Kohlmeier taught at Eastern Washington University until January of this year, when she became a staff attorney and hearings examiner for the Washington Medical Commission.
  • Cheryl Osler. According to her profile page on washingtonautismalliance.org, Osler has more than two decades of psychology experience and is a tenured nursing instructor at Spokane Community College.
  • Denise Smart. Smart is a professor and associate dean for faculty affairs at Washington State University’s college of nursing. She has a doctorate degree in public health from Loma Linda University. 

Spokane County commissioners Al French and Josh Kerns’ lists of candidates for the public health category didn’t overlap with Freeman’s.

French and Kerns wanted to interview:

  • Dr. Daniel Repsold. A bio on excelsiorfamilymedicine.org states that Repsold attended medical school at Loma Linda University and that he specializes in family medicine.
  • Lydia Roloff Logsdon. According to her Facebook page, Logsdon is a medical practice manager at Evergreen Naturopathic.
  • Alycia Policani. A LinkedIn page with Policani’s name lists her as president of Evergreen Naturopathic.
  • Jason Kinley. Kinley is a registered naturopathic physician. He served on the previous Board of Health before it was dissolved and had been appointed to the board by Kerns.
  • Andrea Frostad. Frostad is a credentialed dental hygienist. Like Kinley, she had been serving on the previous Board of Health and had been appointed by French.

Spokane County Commissioner Mary Kuney, the Board of Health chair, wanted to interview Repsold, Blykowski-May, Kinley and Frostad.

Freeman questioned French and Kerns’ lists.

“What is your criteria for choosing these candidates?” Freeman asked. “They are supposed to be our most qualified individuals for public health, correct?”

Freeman said French and Kerns appeared to prefer candidates who lacked doctorate-level medical degrees or master’s degrees in public health.

“I just want to make it clear that it’s my understanding for this particular bucket we would like the most qualified candidate as the representative for the public health sector,” Freeman said.

Kerns defended his choices.

“I think all of the people meet the legal requirement to fill this role, do they not?” Kerns asked.

“I’m sure they meet the legal requirement,” Freeman said. “But are they the most qualified? Are we running under just legal requirement, or is this a qualification-based selection?”

“I think both,” Kerns said.

Freeman continued: “I think we have candidates that were tendered forward on my list, at least to bring in, that are more qualified than some of the candidates that were put forward on commissioner French’s and commissioner Kerns’ list,” Freeman said.

“Wow,” Kerns said. “OK.”

The commissioners and Freeman agreed to interview eight candidates for the public health or medical provider category: Repsold, Blykowski-May, Logsdon, Kinley, Smart, Policani, Frostad and Kohlmeier.

The Board of Health received fewer applicants for the other two categories.

For the consumer of public health category, the Board of Health will interview all three applicants: Michelle Anderson, Jeff Allen Fortin and Chris Patterson.

It’s unclear what Anderson’s background might be.

A LinkedIn page with Fortin’s name lists a long, and fairly eclectic, work history. He describes himself as a former police commissioner in California, former car salesman, U.S. Air Force veteran, U.S. Army veteran and graduate of American Military University, but those are just a few of the bullet points on his résumé.

Patterson’s background is also unclear. Spokane Mayor Nadine Woodward hired a man of the same name in July as a special adviser. That Christopher Patterson was previously a regional administrator for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in the Trump Administration.

For the community stakeholder category, the Board of Health will interview Charlie Duranona, Kevin Glover, Smart and Repsold.

  • Charlie Duranona. A LinkedIn page with Duranona’s name states that he is an outreach coordinator for the Mann-Grandstaff Department Of Veterans Affairs Medical Center. The page also states that Duranona spent four years in Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers’ office as a veterans relations liaison and Wounded Warrior fellow.
  • Kevin Glover. Glover is a 2016 Whitworth University graduate and currently researching “the factors that help or hinder refugees in Spokane from getting the healthcare they need” as a medical student at the University of Washington School of Medicine in Spokane.

Before interviewing candidates, the Board of Health will have to finalize a list of questions. Per state law, the boardmembers have to pose the same questions for each category of candidate.

The Board of Health could have held a public meeting and discussed which questions they wanted to ask. Instead, following French’s recommendation, the boardmembers will email questions to board attorney Michelle Fossum.

French said he preferred that method so that the public, and candidates, couldn’t learn the questions prior to the interviews. Emailing the questions to Fossum exempts the questions from public records requests because those emails fall under attorney-client privilege until the interviews take place.

The Board of Health will conduct the interviews at one or more special meetings, likely at night. Kuney said the goal is to conduct the interviews and select new board members before the Board of Health’s Jan. 27 meeting.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to add additional information on some candidates. 

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