Pajinag Takes The Reins Of Front Street Community Health Center

Kelly Pajinag grew up in Juneau and graduated from Juneau-Douglas High School in 2000. He joined Hospice & Home Care of Juneau in the summer of 2013. (Photo by Lisa Phu/KTOO)
Kelly Pajinag grew up in Juneau and graduated from Juneau-Douglas High School in 2000. He joined Hospice & Home Care of Juneau in the summer of 2013. (Photo by Lisa Phu/KTOO)

Kelly Pajinag is the new interim executive director of Front Street Community Health Center as of Jan. 1. He’s also the program manager of Catholic Community Services’ Hospice & Home Care of Juneau.

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As he juggles two jobs, Pajinag hopes to help the homeless clinic get through some growing pains.

Kelly Pajinag, 33, says he doesn’t have much of a social life these days. His dual leadership positions have similar responsibilities.

“In regards to some of the things that I’ve experienced at Hospice & Home Care of Juneau with implementing more of the administrative business backbone to the program, I kind of saw a relationship here at the Front Street Community Health Center in regards to recruitment, the staffing, the billing platforms to be implemented and put into place,” Pajinag says.

He’s the second executive director of Front Street Community Health Center since last May whenit left umbrella organization Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium. Pajinag says the clinic, which has offered medical, dental and behavioral health services, is going through a challenging transition.

“We’re still in the works of really trying to pick up the pieces of having the luxury of a large organization provide your billing, your payroll, your human resources. These are all things that we have to do at the clinic level now,” Pajinag says.

Pajinag sat on the board of the health center prior to becoming its interim executive director. He has three months to fulfill some big goals. One is continuing to diversify its clientele; Front Street has long been ahomeless clinic and still receives a large chunk of its federal funding for that purpose. It hopes to provide care for patients from all walks of life.

“‘Cause there is a need for thousands of people in our community, so my goal is to make it efficient and effective and available for people to access, whether it’s the homeless population, uninsured, underserved or someone that’s conveniently located nearby,” he says.

Another goal is figuring out the clinic’s staffing shortage. Two of its three main care providers are no longer there. Nurse practitioner Janna Brewster, who also served as the clinic’s manager, resigned in November and dentist Ed Linsell retired. The health center is actively recruiting for both medical positions.

In the meantime, Pajinag says part-time nurse practitioners are filling the gap as Front Street continues to provide medical and behavioral health services. Linsell is providing dental care one week a month.

Pajinag says the health center will soon implement billing and get reimbursements from Medicaid, Medicare and private insurance. The goal is to get a third of its revenue this way.

At the end of March, the Front Street Community Health Center board will reevaluate Pajinag’s position. Dr. Carlton Heine is a board member.

“Does he have the capacity to do this job with his other job or do we need to look for a different person for executive director?” Heine says.

Until then, Pajinag says he’s confident, with the help of staff and community members, the health center will get through the tough transition and start offering patient-centered care to more of Juneau’s population.