Alaska Regional Hospital is planning to open a healthcare clinic in Mountain View by the end of year. There aren’t any primary care services in the Anchorage neighborhood currently. That’s forcing residents to use Alaska Regional’s emergency room for routine care, according to Medicaid data from the state Department of Health and Social Services. That is costing the hospital in uncompensated care and it’s costing the state in unnecessary Medicaid payments.
When Julie Taylor became CEO of Alaska Regional a year ago, the board was already talking about opening a Mountain View clinic. Taylor says it was immediately obvious to her that there was a need.
“If we’re looking at how we’re going to be using healthcare dollars effectively, finding ways to reach populations to treat them closer to home at the right level of care is a better use of those funds.”
Neighborhood residents have been asking for better access to primary care for years. In 2002, the Anchorage Community Land Trust hosted a summit where the need for local health services was a clear priority.
Kirk Rose is executive director of the land trust. He says Alaska Regional has responded in a big way and residents are thrilled:
“We’ve been very tough and staunch about fighting for a health presence in the neighborhood so we’re hoping this is a really nice win in that it enhances the quality of life for the people that live here.”
Taylor says the clinic will be large enough to offer about 3000 patient visits a year.
Alaska Regional is expanding in other ways. The hospital is planning to open two new freestanding emergency rooms, one in South Anchorage and one in Eagle River.
This story is part of a reporting partnership between APRN, NPR and Kaiser Health News.