Wrangell’s hospital is on the cusp of being acquired by a regional health care consortium.
After months of negotiations between the Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium – known as SEARHC – and Wrangell’s city officials, the city says it’s ready to make a deal. Now, the decision ultimately lies with voters in October.
This isn’t a straight forward acquisition. SEARHC would run the existing Wrangell Medical Center while it constructs a new $30 million facility a mile away.
Once the new hospital is up and running, the old hospital would go back to the city. The city hasn’t said what it would do with the old facility.
Wrangell’s assembly unanimously approved the arrangement over the medical center’s land, buildings and other assets the city will lease to SEARHC. In return, SEARHC will assume maintenance and liability for the struggling hospital.
Wrangell City Manager Lisa Von Bargen says the four-year contract could be inked by November.
But for the deal to go forward it still needs ratification by SEARHC’s board. And Wrangell’s voters.
“The reason why the community has to vote is because the charter and the code both for the City and Borough of Wrangell say any transaction the borough is involved in that is equal to $1 million or more requires confirmation by a vote of the public,” Von Bargen said.
Wrangell Medical Center employs 60 people. Its medical director Dr. Lynn Prysunka said in a statement the acquisition would be good for patients.
SEARHC is also in talks to buy the publicly owned Sitka Community Hospital. SEARHC already operates Sitka’s other hospital, Mt. Edgecumbe.
Sitka’s assembly recently approved a motion to begin negotiations.