Jill Buhler Rienstra was appointed to the commission in 1995 and has been reelected three times. She brings to the commission a professional journalism background that enables her to analyze and evaluate complex issues; high standards and strong ethics; and a long-time knowledge of the community.

The daughter of Port Townsend High School graduates who chose a military lifestyle, she has a lifelong affiliation with Jefferson County, spending summers here with family and friends. In 1988, following a successful career as an award-winning magazine editor and writer, Buhler Rienstra returned permanently to Port Townsend, where she married long-time friend and Jefferson County native John Buhler.

Currently Chief Governance Officer, Commissioner Buhler Rienstra has served six terms in that position; was on the Executive Quality Council; liaison to the Jefferson County Board of Health; on the Finance and Health Access committees; and attended surgical section and medical staff meetings. Statewide, she has been a featured speaker at state conferences and was appointed to the Washington State Hospital Association’s Governing Bodies and Legislative Reform Committees and the Education Task Force. For the past 12 years, Buhler Rienstra has advocated on behalf of rural hospitals to congressional representatives in Washington, D.C., and to state representatives in Olympia.

Buhler Rienstra has first-hand knowledge of Jefferson Healthcare as patient and caretaker. The oncology and surgical teams guided her successfully through breast cancer, and she was primary caretaker for her late husband John during his 6-year struggle with Parkinson’s disease and dementia.

Her community involvement includes Chamber of Commerce president, Kiwanis treasurer, Northwest Maritime Center secretary; committee work for Centrum, the city of Port Townsend and the Elks club; president of the Human Right Coalition; and Guardian ad Litem for Jefferson County.

Buhler Rienstra strongly believes that, “High quality basic health care is the very foundation of a viable, thriving community. We must and we do provide access to excellent care to all of our citizens, regardless of their ability to pay. If those of us who are financially vulnerable are forced to delay care until an emergency exists, it costs much more. It’s imperative to get our people into our system early, when they can benefit the most, treatments cost less and they can remain productive. It’s simply the right thing to do.”

In September 2018, several years following John’s passing, she married Douwe Rienstra M.D., a long-time Port Townsend physician who maintains an independent family practice clinic.

Buhler Rienstra invites you to email comments, ideas, concerns or questions to her at jbuhler@jeffersonhealthcare.org.

Commissioner Buhler Rienstra’s current term expires December 2025.