JUNEAU, Alaska — The final step is expected this week for a nonprofit organization to take over a Juneau health center serving homeless and uninsured residents that it started managing last year.

Wrangell-based Alaska Island Community Services began managing Front Street Community Health Center in May 2015 at the request of the center’s board. Board member Mariya Lovishchuk said a final vote on the transfer will take place this week, The Juneau Empire reported (http://bit.ly/2cjpYun ).

AICS offers medical, dental and behavioral health services in Wrangell, Gustavus and Northern Prince of Wales Island.

Mark Walker, the nonprofit organization’s executive director, said AICS has made some improvements to the health center since it began managing it last summer.

“I think, in that time, we really brought both financial and programmatic stability to the clinic, so at this point it’s more efficient for Front Street to be part of AICS operations rather than continuing a management contract,” Walker said. “Then they’ll just be one electronic health record for us to manage, one accounting system, one billing system, one set of operational policies and procedures. It would just make it far more efficient to manage the clinic that way.”

Front Street has gone through several leadership changes in the past few years and faced closure in 2013 due to financial troubles. Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium had planned the closure and continued running the center after the Juneau community raised more than $100,000 in one week to keep its doors open.

In 2014, Front Street ownership went to a new board comprised of individuals from various agencies that serve Juneau’s homeless population.

“The Juneau Community Health Center entity was formed to ensure services would continue instead of cease to exist,” said Lovishchuk, who’s also the executive director of Juneau’s shelter and soup kitchen The Glory Hole.

She said transferring ownership over to a larger organization will help relieve the board of some of its problems with providing health services, including securing funding, retaining providers and offering benefits.

Once AICS is approved to take over the health center, Walker said there won’t be any major changes to its operations.

“We’re committed to providing sustainable and quality services to the homeless population in Juneau,” he said.

There are plans to hire a permanent nurse practitioner and expand the center’s services, including adding a counseling program for people with drug and alcohol addictions.

“We’re very excited,” Walker said. “We feel very good about our work there in Juneau and we’re continuing to grow the services at Front Street and serve that population.”


Information from: Juneau (Alaska) Empire, http://www.juneauempire.com