Wrangell Medical Center will soon have a new top administrator. The Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium has picked one of its own executives to lead the facility that it recently acquired. KSTK’s June Leffler reports.

SEARHC appointed Leatha Merculieff as the new administrator for Wrangell’s hospital. She will lead day-to-day operations starting mid-April, as well as oversee  construction of SEARHC’s new hospital in Wrangell.

Merculieff has served as a vice president of executive administration for SEARHC for more than four years. Before that, she had worked for the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium since 1999.

The formerly borough-owned hospital was acquired by the tribal health provider last year. SEARHC is operating the aging facility as it plans to construct a new $30 million replacement.

The Wrangell Assembly supported SEARHC’s buyout, arguing the hospital would not survive on its own. SEARHC says the new hospital should be built by 2021.

Merculieff replaces former hospital CEO Robert Rang, who is leaving to start work with Providence Seward Medical Center. His last day on the Wrangell job is April 12.

Merculieff is an Aleut who grew up on St. Paul in the Pribilof Islands in the Bering Sea.