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City of Sunnyside joins Sunnyside Community Development Cooperative

The Sunnyside City Council voted unanimously to authorize Interim City Manager Frank Sweet to enter into a letter of agreement to establish the Sunnyside Community Development Cooperative.

The co-op would include the city, Sunnyside School District, Sunnyside Community Hospital and the Port of Sunnyside and would present a united front in implementing community initiatives.

The main objection to the agreement was in regards to the inclusion of the Student Health Center. Councilman Nick Paulakis said his concerns about the issue were addressed by conversations he and Councilman Jason Raines had with Superintendent Dr. Rick Cole and Hospital CEO John Gallagher.

"We don't want Planned Parenthood or any other organization that deals with these kind of issues," said Paulakis. "No contraception will be given out, no abortion services, none of those type of things will be handled through this... I feel very confident from what I heard and reading the letter."

Raines echoed the comments by Paulakis, adding that the co-op will be meeting needs of the city and plugging gaps in service. He said the health clinic is part of that effort. The main issues the health center will focus on will be suicide prevention and alcohol and drug education based on the grants it's already received.

Deputy Mayor Don Vlieger said that he has a big problem with the clinic because of the nation's privacy laws regarding health care.

"You're going to have a clinic there, and under HIPAA, your 14-year-old kid goes into that clinic, no one will tell you no matter what," said Vlieger. "That kid does not want you told, you will not know they went in there for service. And I find that abhorrent."

He said a permission slip would be sent home to parents for children to be allowed to be treated in the clinic, but he wants a paragraph included that warns parents about the privacy laws.

Councilwoman Theresa Hancock said she didn't think the focus should be on the clinic, but she wasn't sure what the purpose of the co-op will be.

"I'm a little wishy-washy on what we're actually doing here," she said. "I'm not sure what we hope to accomplish here. I guess I can go along with it until I feel like we're not accomplishing what we set out to accomplish."

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