Klukwan clinic expands staff, reach
A wintry drive from Klukwan to Haines is all the more grueling when you’re in poor health.
An expanded level of care and staffing at Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium’s Klukwan clinic will allow village and upper valley residents to have their medical needs met closer to home.
"Within Southeast Alaska, all of the rural clinics, SEARHC has been improving the level of health care," said Marcia Scott, clinic administrator in Haines. "I think that’s one of the goals (in Klukwan), to increase the level of care from a health aide clinic to a mid-level clinic, with more expertise, training, skill and a wider scope of practice."
Three, full-time positions will be added, including a physician’s assistant or family nurse practitioner, clinical assistant and receptionist. The clinic was formerly staffed by a full-time health aide.
"It was just part of the new budget year," Scott said. "The clinic at Klukwan used to be a health aide clinic, and when the person who held that position left, it was decided that they would upgrade the position or increase the level of service to a mid-level."
The aide position has been vacant several months. "We’ve only had a physician going out there two half-days a week, on Tuesday mornings and Thursday afternoons, and that will continue, even when there’s a mid-level there."
A job description posted at http://www.searhc.org says the physician’s assistant or family nurse practitioner will serve patients in Klukwan and Haines with "emergency, acute, chronic and preventative health care (for) all ages and genders."
"We hope to get that position filled in December, but it just depends on when they can start," Scott said. "Certainly by Jan. 1, and hopefully sooner."
Lani Hotch of Klukwan’s health council said the change will benefit residents throughout the valley.
"We’re hoping that people from up the highway will start to use the clinic, too, because the higher level of use – and the more demand that’s on our clinic – will justify increasing the level of service here," Hotch said.
She said improved access has been a goal of the health council.
"For a long time, we had our health clinic on the second floor of the Klukwan ANS Hall, and we pushed hard to get a ground-level clinic, because the second floor was really hard for people to get up to when they’re not feeling well, and the stairs were quite steep," Hotch said.
SEARHC opened a new clinic in Klukwan in summer 2005.