Budget cuts could leave Wrangell without a public health nurse. The previous staffer left in March and has not been replaced. Ketchikan based Public Health Nurse Manager Susan Bergmann is filling in for a few days. But she says the state isn’t looking for someone to hire.
Bergmann: “I’m not recruiting at this point. I have not received permission to do so. They are still waiting for final decisions to be made in the House and Senate with their budget.”
Bergmann says state funding for public health nursing faces a cut of more than 15 percent. Final decisions of which jobs to eliminate have not been made. She says one factor is need. For example, Wrangell and nearby communities have very low tuberculosis rates. Some Western Alaska towns have more cases.
Bergmann: “They also look at are the community providers able to provide the services that public health provides. In Wrangell, the answer is yes. We have other providers.”
Bergmann says the Wrangell Medical Center and Alaska Island Community Services offer many of the same kinds of care as the public health center. She says the center will be staffed for a few days every other week. Appointments can still be made, but she advises calling as far in advance as possible. The Wrangell center also serves Kake. She says that can be covered by the Petersburg center, which is closer.