In just two weeks, Sitka Community Hospital closes and the Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium becomes the only show in town for most healthcare services.
With that comes a wave of change: medical centers renamed, SCH employees will transition to SEARHC at the end of the month, and plans are in the works for a new hospital.
At the Sitka Chamber of Commerce meeting on Wednesday (7/17/19), Mt. Edgecumbe Medical Center administrator Chris Wolf spoke about the transition. Wolf, who has worked for SEARHC for just over a year, informed the audience that the Sitka Community Hospital Emergency room closes on July 29 at 6 p.m. He said Mt. Edgecumbe Medical is prepared to see an uptick in emergency services.
“We’re currently seeing between 13 and 15 patients a day, so we have plenty of capacity,” he said. “We will see an increase in our volume but we’re well prepared for that with our staff and equipment.”
Wolf said that while names will change for some of the clinics, most will stay in the same location, at least in the near future. Long-term care will stay put, as will the Oceanside Therapy Clinic and the Mountainside Family Clinic.
Home health moves to the new urgent care clinic on July 29. The former Sitka Medical Express Clinic, renamed “Mountainside Urgent Care,” will be open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Last year, SEARHC partnered with the Swedish Medical Group out of Seattle. As a result, they began to provide more services, like cardiology and urology, to patients.
“Eventually we’ll do neurology, and dermatology,” said Wolf. “We will add somewhere around 2500 additional clinic days associated with this affiliation, that we maybe couldn’t provide before.”
But the plan to expand SEARHC’s Sitka campus is still a few years out. Wolf said it will happen in three phases. First, SEARHC will build a long term care wing with 20 beds, then a medical office building, and finally a new, critical access hospital, all with the goal of centralizing care around Sitka. But what will happen to the Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital Building?
“I think part of it will become more patient housing if it’s needed,” he said, “But also administrative building, as well.”
Wolf said those with questions about the transition can call a newly established medical hotline, 907-966-8977.