Food for Community Thought… Do We Need a Doctor in our Clinic?

| February 27, 2014 | 1 Comment

by Jere Murray

At the Seldovia City Council meeting on February 12, 2014 Dr. Reynolds officially announced his April 30 retirement from office practice.  He also announced he does not intend to renew his medical license which expires at the end of December.

This means after April, unless a replacement is found, there will be no doctor holding regularly scheduled office hours in our clinic and after December no doctor will taking emergency calls and so-forth in Seldovia.

Isn’t it time for open and in-depth community discussion of the future of the City of Seldovia’s Clinic facilities?

Why else would this be an appropriate issue for discussion?

The answers to these questions might provide a hint: Will people feel secure for their health and that of their children with out a doctor present in the community? Will Seldovia prosper without continuation of a medical practice in the Clinic?  Will itremain an attractive place to live or move to or become a place people flee? Will your property gain or lose value?

If the issue is worth discussion, some points which might be addressed are:

Does the Community need/want continued presence of a doctor’s office there?  Would a PA (Physicians Assistant), NP (Nurse Practitioner), or other medical professional be adequate and acceptable to the community?

If a PA or Doctor or other medical professional is desired; how might we go about finding that person?  Where might we look beyond the immediate lower Kenai Peninsula area – Young practitioners right out of training? – Military medical personnel leaving the service? – Recently retiring doctors (rumor has it there may be many of them)?

How could we find candidates: Advertise; if so where? Personal communication?  Other?

When? – time is rapidly running out.

Is additional subsidy necessary to attract a new occupant?  At the same meeting the City Manager said everyone he’s talked to has asked: “What’s your budget?” Is the community willing to help make a new medical practice more financially viable while it gets on its feet by going above and beyond the current subsidy level?

Currently the City of Seldovia owns and maintains the facility at a cost of about $10,500 per year to City taxpayers (average from FY07-FY11 City audits).  The space is provided rent free. The water and sewer, heat, lights and snow removal are all provided by the City at no cost to occupants as are other perks.

If so how might the subsidy be acceptably increased?

A few ideas:  Bridge loans, provide living space in the facility, pay for malpractice insurance (may cost less than you might think), expand utility cost subsidy, supply janitorial services, hire or contract for some or all support personnel, possibly even hire the doctor?

How might further subsidy be financed?  Below are a few possibilities:

Each 1% of a new City of Seldovia sales tax dedicated to the purpose might raise about $35,000 per year (KPB Seldovia Taxable sales, grey area with Tide Pool closure) from all those living in and around the City and visiting (Tourists, part-time residents) the Community.  Part of the cost of the clinic subsidy is currently funded through sales tax revenues though they are not directed there by ordinance.

Could the purpose of the Seldovia Recreational Service area be extended and the mil rate increased to provide subsidy?  A ½ mil increase would raise about $35,000 per year from all property owners in the area – but nothing from renters and visitors.

Would there be interest in the community to support a medical professional operating out of the Clinic by a subscription program?  200 families paying in $100 per year would raise $20,000.

Each additional 1 mil property tax on real and personal property in the City of Seldovia would raise around $37,000 per year (FY08-FY11 City audits), but residents of the surrounding area and visitors get off scot-free.

Perhaps we don’t want or need a city supported clinic? Maybe the City should move its offices into the multipurpose building?  But, consider as probable, if we give up that aspect of life in Seldovia now, we’ll never get it back.

Time’s a-wastin’

Jere Murray

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Category: Community, Lifestyle

Comments (1)

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  1. Sandy says:

    I made it to the second gathering of the new Crochet Group up at the SOCC this morning.

    This subject came up and all five gals there emphatically said we need a doctor.

    They all think this is doable.

    PS Thanks, Alta, for your patience with me.

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