The Seward Phoenix Log - News of the Eastern Kenai Peninsula since 1966

By Wolfgang Kurtz
LOG Editor 

Clinic opening postponed


Wolfgang Kurtz | The Seward Phoenix LOG

SCHC interim executive director Sharon Montagnino peers at painting and minor remodelling in progress.

Seward's new community health clinic will open later than previously announced, likely butting up against the drop dead date of March 10, according to interim executive director Sharon Montagnino. Under the terms of the federal grant of $775,000 which will comprise around half of the Seward Community Health Center's budget for the first 14 months, the clinic will have to be open by that date or face penalties.

According to a SCHC press release, the SCHC board and Montagnino hoped to open the final week of February, but delays in acquiring equipment and supplies, and an extension of time by the federal grant agency have led to a short postponement. The board members voted to move back the opening to be better prepared on opening day.

Montagnino says that, except for staffing, the clinic could be ready to open by the first week of March, only few days past the former announced opening. Painting and other touch up work is due to be finished this week. Office and medical equipment, and supplies are due to arrive by March 3. However, Montagnino explains that more time spent recruiting for the new medical personnel could help fill more empty positions by opening day. If the positions can't be filled by permanent staff, the clinic will hire temporary workers.

Providence Seward has already emptied about 2,100 square feet inside the 16,000 square foot city owned medical facility for use by the new clinic. Providence Seward will continue to use a larger proportion of the building for the hospital and emergency room services that it will continue to operate. Shared areas like the reception area and conference rooms as well as space for the building's physical plant round out the total floor space.

According to Montagnino, staffing will continue to be a priority but she predicts that the next big challenge will be lack of space for expansion if the clinic intends to grow to meet community demand by adding additional doctors. She estimates that additional floor space will be required within the first year of operations. She also says that a computerized records system hasn't been selected and that no matter what the clinic chooses, it won't be up and running for quite awhile. In the meantime the SCHC will rely on a paper based filing and billing system.


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