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Council OKs $500,000 Grant As Clinic Reduces Emergency Request

Nov 29, 2017

IFHS Director James Kaech said he hopes to use only $270,000, or about half of the grant.
Credit Laura Kraegel/KUCB

The City Council has agreed to grant $500,000 to Unalaska’s clinic.

On Tuesday, councilors unanimously approved the subsidy, which will come from the city’s general fund surplus.

The decision comes a month after Iliuliuk Family and Health Services (IFHS) made an emergency funding request of $700,000.

IFHS Director James Kaech said the clinic has suffered budget shortfalls for most of the last decade and is expecting another steep loss this year.

After cashing in investments and renegotiating contracts, however, he said he's whittled down the need for aid to about $270,000.

That means Kaech is hoping to use only half of the grant.

“We’ve taken a really big bite out of the request," he told the council. "Again, I want you to remember the $500,000 is a safety net set aside for only as we need.”

Kaech said the clinic will need less than expected because he’s overhauling its finances. In the next few months, he plans to implement a more affordable fee schedule, a new billing system, and a telepharmacy.

He said that’ll encourage more Unalaskans to visit the local clinic as opposed to practices in Anchorage or Seattle, thereby increasing patient volume and revenue.

Those plans seemed to satisfy councilors, including Dennis Robinson, who previously suggested a low-interest loan.

“I just don’t want to see the clinic become another city department,” said Robinson.

Interim City Manager Nancy Peterson said the clinic will be required to prove its financial need every time it taps into grant funding. She’ll present an agreement with terms and conditions at the Dec. 12 council meeting.