There are two open seats on the Wrangell Medical Center Board. Jennifer Bates and Rebecca Christensen are each running for one. KSTK’s Quinton Chandler spoke with Jennifer Bates via Skype about her desire to sit on the board.

Quinton Chandler: Why do you want to run for the hospital board?

Jennifer Bates: So, the hospital board is important to me. We have very limited medical care in Wrangell. One of the things that interests me most about Wrangell and the hospital is the long-term care facility. I think that we can expand the long-term care facility. I know that the hospital administrator has some plans that he’s hoping to expand. I think with working with him and expanding that would be a great asset.

Quinton Chandler: You were saying that you think long-term care can be enhanced and I’m wondering how do you think that the board can do that?

Jennifer Bates: Facility wise, hoping to see if we can’t get on board and share with some planning and expanding the facility. (I’m) hoping to get on a committee, maybe a building committee, to hopefully expand the hospital in their facility as well as some other things and maybe hopefully (bring) in some more medical doctors into the community. I don’t have a lot of knowledge as far as the in and outs of how the Wrangell board works but I’m eager to learn how that might work and willing to jump in and find out.

Quinton Chandler: Any other important business that you think the board needs to address in the near future that you feel you can contribute to?

Jennifer Bates: What I feel from my own experience would be great would be to bring in some more doctors. So that residents do not have to go off island so much. I’m not sure if you’ve ever had to experience this, but for myself in recent months, having to leave the island to go and seek out better medical care and not having the doctors on the island to deal with it is distressing in itself and then having to go to a foreign city where sometimes you don’t know anybody there and having to spend all kinds of money that you really don’t have, and not being in your own home or in your own hometown to get the care that you need. So that’s what I’m hoping that we can, and I don’t even know if that this is part of the board, that we can recruit doctors. So hopefully I can lend to that. That we can build up the hospital to a point that it will be more desirable for doctors to come to Wrangell.

Quinton Chandler: Do you think that the borough should try to build a new hospital or do you think that the borough should lean more on a partner to have them build a hospital?

Jennifer Bates: Yeah, I think we need to build a new facility. I don’t think there’s enough rooms in the facility, once again because of long-term care. If we had a better long-term care facility, maybe that would be enough rooms but we don’t have enough. We don’t have enough staffing. We don’t have enough nurses; we just don’t have enough of anything because we’re not generating the kind of income we need to be generating. It’s a domino effect. If you don’t have enough of one thing, then it leads to another thing and then it leads to another thing. So that’s what I’m hoping is that at least I can contribute to something to make where I live a better place and I’d rather be a solution and not a problem.