Please consider the following regarding the upcoming vote on leasing Dahl Clinic to SEARHC. Our clinic has been in turmoil for years, and what improvements have we witnessed? Hemorrhaging money on an interim director? A rotating door of staff?

This is not sustainable.

We pride ourselves on the fact that we are one of few municipalities in the nation who runs our own clinic but perhaps there’s a reason more communities don’t – because it’s not realistic to think a local government can adequately run a medical facility while balancing all other aspects of government. 

That’s not a dig at our local officials, they care and do wonderful work. However, there are few people in Skagway who are medically trained or have the knowledge and experience to be effective at running a modern medical clinic. It’s unrealistic to believe a town of fewer than 1,000 residents can effectively run a clinic, and the facts underscore this assertion. 

In 2022, clinic revenues were only 18% of the operating costs. The rest came from public money. More than $1 million of that public money came from Skagway taxpayers. And yet the clinic still maintained a deficit of more than $347,000, and this deficit has still not been resolved. 

This is not sustainable.

The cost of healthcare is only going to increase. Do you think there’s a better way to spend our limited tax dollars than on a clinic that’s more than 80% subsidized by taxpayer dollars?

I hear many people speak of the fundraising efforts and I appreciate the hard work that went into building our clinic. At a special assembly meeting, the people most responsible for getting our clinic built said they supported SEARHC taking over operations. Indeed, they said that this is the evolution of the clinic.

There is a huge misconception that the clinic building and assets won’t belong to Skagway anymore if the SEARHC lease is approved. This is false. The efforts and love that went into the clinic building will not be wasted because Skagway retains ownership of the property, building and assets.

You and your family will simply have more reliable healthcare provided by trusted professionals who service all of Southeast Alaska. 

Many people know that I’ve had multiple negative experiences at our clinic. I’m not afraid to talk about them because my experience may make somebody else feel like they aren’t alone. I am grateful that citizens have had good encounters at the clinic, and I am heartbroken that so many others have had horrendous ones. 

We all deserve to feel safe when going to the Dahl Memorial Clinic. We deserve to feel like we aren’t being gossiped about when we leave the exam room. We deserve not being forced to question the diagnosis we’re given.

Let’s focus on the future of Skagway and realize that SEARHC isn’t the bad guy. Our clinic desperately needs saving. Our citizens need healthcare. Approving the SEARHC lease is a smart move for our community. 

-KayLynn Howard