Tonight’s meeting (08-28-18) of the Sitka Assembly has one item on the agenda: Sitka Community Hospital.

Outside consultants have questioned the financial sustainability of the city-owned hospital. In 2014, a severe cash flow shortage resulted in a $1 million bailout from the city. And while current management has introduced changes – including eliminating the obstetrics program – to improve the bottom line, the hospital’s operation may radically change depending on what course of action the assembly chooses.

Earlier this year, the Sitka Assembly cast a wide net for new management. They issued a RFP (Request For Proposal) and of all the proposers, the Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) responded with the strongest offer. They’ve proposed buying out the hospital business and merging its operations with their facility at Mt. Edgecumbe. SEARHC’s offer also allows the city to keep 100-percent of local tobacco tax revenue, the hospital facility, and promises jobs to all current employees.

At a town hall meeting last week, citizens voiced concern that merging Sitka’s two hospitals would silence the community’s voice in healthcare. The Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium receives substantial funding from federal sources. Many at the town hall called for equal access to care, jobs, and local representation in management should the two hospitals combine.

The Assembly will consider whether or not to move to the next stage of the RFP process tonight. Raven Radio will broadcast the meeting live at 6 p.m., immediately following Alaska News Nightly. Should the meeting continue into Wednesday evening, we will broadcast that live as well.

Tune 104.7 FM locally or stream online from the link here. You can also view a video feed from the City and Borough of Sitka here