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April 15, 2021


  • There were 17 applications and 6 finalists.
  • Dr. Jameson is the founder/owner of Axis Spine Center in CDA.
  • Currently on Panhandle Health task force about the opioid epidemic sweeping our region.
  • Transcript of interview below.

The long-awaited *potential* change for the Panhandle Health Board

The Kootenai County Commissioners had a meeting this morning about their choice for the Panhandle Health Board of Trustees, replacing Jai Nelson when her term is up in June. After receiving 17 applications and narrowing it down to 6 finalists, the Board chose Dr. Jessica Jameson as their nominee. She, if she accepts their nomination, will be the nominee by Kootenai County to the other 4 counties in the Panhandle Health District. The other 4 Boards of County Commissioners will have to vote on Kootenai’s nominee before she officially joins the Panhandle Health Board.
I have included the transcript of her interview below; you can watch her interview on YouTube here. You can watch the interview of Michael Burns here. You can watch the interviews of Bruce Edwards, Richard Meyer, Duke Johnson, and Marian Underdahl here.

Dr. Jessica Jameson

  • Anesthesiologist by training
  • Former flight surgeon for the military
  • Living in CDA for about 10 years
  • Full-time interventional pain physician, founder/owner of Axis Spine Center.
  • Pain physician for 8 years, had gone back to residency after being an Air Force flight surgeon.

The following questions were standard questions asked of all 6 candidates; I have included her answers below:
What is the role of Panhandle Health District’s board?
Assist with making decisions in the best interest of public health. The public health sector is in charge of making this a healthy place for its citizens to live, and the board guides and directs a lot of those decisions that comes with that.
Do you know where the PHD funding comes from?
Their funding comes from state and local funding. They get grants. There are fees associated with some of the services they provide.
Follow up question on the spot: Do you have any idea about how much we fund them?
I do not.
Do you think mask mandates are appropriate?
I have a hard time with mandates in general. I feel pretty strongly that civil liberty is very important, especially in CDA. That’s sort of the history of this area; a lot of people move here for that reason. Now I think this becomes a little bit of a grey area in some ways, particularly with something like the mask mandate. Sometimes with something like vaccines it becomes a little bit of a grey area as well, and extremely challenging as we’ve noticed in our community, there’s a lot of emotion that goes behind a lot of this. To get to the actual question that you’ve asked me, I actually do not agree with a mask mandate and that is not a popular opinion I would say in my profession. I think that there are a lot of studies that have come out and they go a lot of different ways. I think that that’s part of what’s gotten us into this situation as a country is that there’s a lot of differing studies that say very different things and you can make a lot of studies that can say very different things. Being able to critically look at the science is the skillset that I think the vast majority of people likely lack, I mean it takes a lot of time and effort to be able to critically look at a study, who’s funding that study, what do they have to gain from putting this study out. So all that to say that I think that protecting the health of my neighbor and my community is important but I have concerns when we start to mandate things that potentially don’t have the quality of evidence required to know that that is something that is going to be beneficial.
What do you think about the 1 septic system per 5 acre minimum rule over the aquifer?
I have some concerns about that. I think that this is going to become so much more of a concern as people move here. The aquifer is something that we need to protect certainly, so that 5 lots…I think it depends a little bit but I do have concern that it’s too many over the aquifer.
Clarified question a little bit: 1 home per 5 acres, not 5 homes per acre.
I think that as long as the science supports that, as long as I think we’re doing these {garbled} evaluations, as long as the science supports that that is a safe and reasonable thing to do; we’ve been doing these evaluations on septic tanks and septic system requests for many, many years and so if the science supports that then I think I would absolutely agree with that.
Your philosophy on vaccinations, should they be mandated? I realize when you go back to the smallpox vaccine and the eradication of polio and whatnot and there’s a long history here so answer that question any way you see fit.
I do not think that vaccines that have not been fully tested, fully approved, and have a track record should be made mandatory. I think the polio vaccine – and again this is where you get into a bit of a grey area – we don’t mandate the influenza vaccine, we know that influenza mutates. We now know that C0vid SARS virus mutates, and so I think mandating for diseases like that is a very slippery slope. Now, when you’re talking about polio, which was a disease most physicians these days have never seen – we’ve seen some post-polio people but never seen polio – we were able to eradicate the disease. That has a long track record, that vaccine has a very long track record, has been proven to be safe and effective, and so in that instance I think mandating vaccines like that is in the best interest of public health. As we’ve been doing for children going to school.
Follow up question on the spot: That [polio] vaccine was developed in the 50s but at some point a decision had to be made because the situation was presumably critical and one could’ve argued even then that perhaps the vaccine was not fully tested but the decision was made to mandate. I don’t know if it was mandated right then and there….
I think it took quite some time before we started mandating any vaccines in the United States. When you look at the morbidity and mortality from polio I think that is obvious that disease killed many, many people and left many with neurologic defects. I have concern about, certainly there are people dying from coronavirus, I’m certainly not saying that this is not a public health emergency, a pandemic, something that we need to pay attention to. But the concern I have is that this is a vaccine was granted an emergency authorization. The FDA has a very specific set of criteria that they go by in order to fully approve anything and we’ve relied on them for decades to do this. There’s still a question about does this mutate? Do we need booster vaccines? Do we need to have one every year? Some have said we may need one ever 3 months. There are questions about does it prevent me from spreading? That hasn’t been definitively decided, hence “we now get vaccinated but we still wear masks, and we must still social distance” and there’s a lot of things we still have to do because of that. It’s my opinion at this point mandating the C0vid-19 vaccine or the influenza vaccine for that matter, is not appropriate.
Follow up question on the spot: Is the polio vaccine mandated in the United States?
Polio is one of the vaccines that is required for children to get into kindergarten or go to school. That is one of the ones that needs to be given.
What other areas does Panhandle Health work in besides mask mandating?
They do things like suicide prevention, we talked about the opioid epidemic (in her intro about being an interventional pain physician). I’ve been fortunate to be on that task force to kind of what that looks like in our community and how can we prevent this from that. They do things like teen pregnancy, they do septic and water, they do vaccinations, they provide some basic healthcare. They do nutritional interventions for young children.
Do you believe nutrition/prevention should be a bigger role in Panhandle Health’s community education:
I think you answered the next one so I’m not going to ask it but it was could you imagine a circumstance when mandating a vaccine could be necessary.
If you were the individual selected for the board, how would you keep us (the commissioners) apprised of happenings at Panhandle Health? What’s your preferred method of communication?
My preferred method is email. Following those meetings if there’s any mandate or anything that needs to be acted on that that certainly takes precedence but just updates about what was discussed and what the trends are looking like and concerns moving forward I think for the sake of your time email may be the most efficient way to do that.
What areas do you feel that stem cell therapy is useful for in a proven treatment?
Stem cell therapy has been used in cancer for many years, there’s evidence there. We’re getting more and more evidence on stem cell therapy. Now the problem we run into is there are multiple types of stem cells. Most of the data is on autologous stem cells – stem cells coming from your own hip or your own bone marrow. There is actually decent data for that in joints for people who are trying to avoid joint replacement, there’s decent data for that. We will continue to get more data in spine as it comes to this, regenerating tissues. One of the big problems I see, not just here but nationally, is that the FDA doesn’t regulate a lot of this. Even locally we have IV stem cells being used to treat people with Parkinson’s, Multiple Sclerosis, which in my opinion is just preying on people…I think it is the most unethical…it’s completely unethical and I think that 80% of those [stem cells] sit in your lung and get eliminated and you’re paying $10,000 for one treatment (or more) and it’s never just one treatment so there is zero evidence for that and in fact there’s evidence of harm being done to patients through that.

Questions for the Commissioners

As this area is growing, what are your thoughts on the biggest public health hurdle that you see ahead of us in the next 10 years with the explosive growth of this area?
BB: Water’s going to be a big one. Water quality. I’ve lived in areas where people didn’t know better and they add their septic tank and their well on the same side of the house and I said “that’s just not a good idea,“ and they said, “that’s the way my grandpa did it, it’s my right, leave me alone.” I think there’s going to be more of that here before it’s settled.
LD: Meat and nutrition. Getting education out there, take care of your bodies, take care of your health. Let food be your medicine rather than medicine be your medicine.
CF: The majority of our transplants – and this might have chanced since C0vid because C0vid’s been an accelerant for people moving in – but a majority of our transplants are over the age of 60 so I think that’s going to present some unique healthcare situations. If we are confronted, God forbid, with another pandemic that’s going to be, as they age they will be presumable a more susceptible population, so I think that’s going to present challenges. I think water’s going to be an issue nationally but I think we’re a little more blessed here in the Pacific Northwest and especially with the aquifer. But I would say the aging population. As I said, C0vid is changing it a little bit because those who can live and work remotely and are still employed obviously are a younger generation but I think it’s going to be the age.

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