Originally, SEARHC was slated to become the sole healthcare provider in Sitka on July 1, providing most services from Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital (pictured above). Now, the sale of Sitka Community Hospital to SEARHC has been pushed back a month. (KCAW/Rose)

Sitka Community Hospital employees won’t be moving over to SEARHC on July 1 as originally planned. SEARHC and city officials announced today (Monday 6-3-19) that the transition date has been pushed back to August 1.

SEARHC executive vice president Dan Neumeister said everything is still in the works, the parties just needed a little more time.

“We’re very positive and this minor delay is just that, it’s a minor delay as we are able to move forward and finalize the agreement,” he said, speaking to KCAW Monday afternoon.  

Neumeister said the reason for the 30-day-delay was two-fold. City consultants were working on a report outlining outstanding financial liabilities that SEARHC might absorb in the sale process.

“That report came in a little bit later than we’d all hoped and did not really give us the opportunity to ensure that the findings were agreeable to a successful merger,” Neumeister said.

That combined with a delayed meeting between SEARHC and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services forced the teams to push back the transition date, in order to meet state and federal filing requirements to close the deal.

Training and planning for the transition will continue as scheduled, but everything else is postponed until August 1, including employment offers. But that doesn’t mean the offer letters sent out to around 160 SCH employees in May are no good: Neumeister said all of the offers still stand and nothing changes but the date.

“We want to keep it simple- we hope to just move the dates to August one versus July 1,” he said. “Everything else stays the same, it just allows a little more time for the transition and merger to occur.”

Barring further delays, SCH employees will transition to SEARHC on August 1, and SEARHC will begin operating the hospital’s longterm care and home health services.