My Skagway Community,
Despite what SEARHC’s latest mailers might lead you to believe, the decision over whether SEARHC will take over operations of the Dahl Memorial Clinic has NOT been made. The assembly is still waiting for a draft agreement to be sorted between the Municipality of Skagway (MOS), SEARHC and their legal counsel before review and possible approval at the assembly table. That could be “soon” – per Manager Ryan’s report at the Oct. 6 assembly meeting.
THE DECISION WHETHER SEARHC SHOULD TAKE OVER MANAGEMENT OF OUR CLINIC IN SKAGWAY COULD BE MADE ENTIRELY AT THE ASSEMBLY TABLE. NO PUBLIC VOTE REGARDING SEARHC IS CURRENTLY SCHEDULED. The vote is not required because the draft sale and lease price does not exceed $5 million.
Please read SEARHC Draft Terms published on the city website for the assembly›s Aug. 5 special meeting. The assembly directed Ryan to negotiate an agreement with SEARHC based on this document. The draft terms do not call for sale of the building, but sale of the clinic business for $1 and lease of the building (and equipment) for $1 per year for 25 years, totaling $26 dollars. The building was recently assessed for $9.5 million dollars.
Other SEARHC draft terms:
-MOS would be responsible for paying out PERS for employees at the clinic.
-MOS will be responsible for maintenance of the clinic building, land, mechanical, plumbing and electrical systems.
-SEARHC would dissolve the current nine member clinic board, all Skagway residents, after the HRSA grant is transferred over to SEARHC. SEARHC has a 15 member board with one Skagway resident.
An RFP process has not been conducted for this current negotiation with SEARHC, nor in the first round of negotiations before the canceled SEARHC vote.
In my opinion, the MOS negotiating with SEARHC hurts our current operations at the clinic. As a board member, I sit in interviews for clinic staff positions. In these interviews, SEARHC negotiations are disclosed, which has caused candidates to remove themselves from consideration. In the search for a permanent executive director, a crucial position at the clinic, I saw three out of seven total interviewed candidates remove themselves from consideration due to, at least in part, the SEARHC question. An uncertain clinic future makes the challenging process of finding permanent admin/medical professionals even harder. The clinic hires interim, or locum, professional staff, which can be very expensive, to keep the clinic›s doors open. The SEARHC negotiations are costing the MOS more money, not only in legal fees, but in hiring professionals to fill the gap while negotiations occur.
In my conversations with our new clinic interim executive director, he has indicated the clinic has an opportunity to increase the income the clinic receives from grants – an increase great enough that it could eliminate the need for an MOS clinic subsidy and pay for city hall staff›s work on clinic matters.
I support a vote for deciding this matter. Healthcare is a personal matter, where each community member should have a chance to vote on this issue. I don›t support the assembly making this decision for us.
The clinic has operated well in the past under a nearly identical structure, and the clinic can do so again.
The time is rapidly approaching when the assembly is to make a decision regarding SEARHC, so I ask you to carefully consider this issue and make your voice heard by writing an email to the assembly (send to email@example.com) or speak at the upcoming assembly meeting, Oct. 20 at 7 p.m.
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