Sitka Community Hospital has its eye on a clinic for sale – once the Moore Clinic – to relocate administrative operations and eventually expand the hospital. (Emily Kwong/KCAW photo)

At the Assembly meeting on Tuesday (12-08-15), CEO Rob Allen delivered a report on the state of Sitka Community Hospital. The presentation comes one year after a major shake-up at the hospital  – that saw the departure of then-CEO Jeff Comer, a $1 million loan from the City, and the dissolution of the board.

Before beginning his presentation, Allen said, “A couple of months ago when I was in an all-staff meeting, I made a promise that we wanted this December to be very boring. Especially compared to last December, which all of you remember was not so boring.


Allen told the Assembly that SCH is in a much better financial place than it was last year, when the hospital’s severe cash flow came to light (Emily Kwong/KCAW photo)

Last December was when the hospital’s severe cash shortage came to light. Now, the hospital just completed an audit, introducing a new electronic billing system, and is sitting pretty cash wise – with $2.6 million in the bank. “A year ago, we had 6 or 7 days of cash on hand and now we are up over 40 days,” Allen said.

To grow that cash flow, Allen wants to find a way to bring more patients into the hospital and for that, he has his eye on the building next door. Once called the Moore Clinic, it’s now owned by Dr. John Totten, who retired a few years ago. Totten wants to sell it to the hospital for $950,000, which is about half of its appraisal value.

Steve Hartford, the hospital’s operations director, explained why the building is desirable in the short term. “The purchase would allow the hospital to relocate it’s private administrative offices from the ground floor of the hospital, which would free up much needed space to direct patient care.”

And in the long term, the hospital wants to use the land as the bedrock for a state of the art clinic, that would combine Mountainside Family Healthcare and Oceanside Therapy into a single 3-story building. Allen said, “That would then allow us to tear down the Totten building and then go in that spot with some type of long term facility – and geriatric care – which would allow us to move it outside of the hospital.

It’s a long term vision, with the Totten building as a catalyst. Since the building rests on city land, the sale must be approved by the Assembly. At the end of the presentation, Assembly asked for time and a work session to review the idea more carefully.

In other news, the Assembly approved the consent agenda in one fell swoop, which included awarding a contract to DOWL to analyze the site of a proposed seaplane base on Japonski Island. The old facility is rapidly deteriorating.

In new business, the Assembly also directed Administrator Mark Gorman to obtain bulk water export permits for Green Lake water. And right before wrapping up for the night, the Assembly appointed Clara Gray to the Health Needs and Human Services Commission and Liz McKenzie to the Tree and Landscape Commission.