Assembly service area vote could affect Ninilchik Health Clinic

A Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly vote on July 25 could eliminate my ability to work at the Ninilchik clinic.

Many of you have been hearing in the local news this week about the proposal coming up for vote at the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly meeting on Monday, July 25, to move the Central Peninsula Hospital service area line further south.

What many local resident aren’t aware of is the direct and severe impact that this proposal may have on the availability of medical services in Ninilchik.

Many of my patients may not realize that I am actually an employee of South Peninsula Hospital, not the Ninilchik Community Clinic.  NTC contracts with SPH to provide many services for them, including lab oversight, X-ray, ultrasound and my services as a physician.  If the SPH services area line is moved south of the Ninilchik clinic, then SPH will no longer be able to provide services to the Ninilchik clinic and I won’t be able to work here anymore.  This would be devastating both to me personally and to all my patients in town who I have worked so hard to build a relationship with over the past 2 ½ years. 

Before I moved here, NTC had been trying for years to recruit a physician on its own without success.  They asked SPH to help them find a physician to provide care locally and SPH was able to recruit me from Valdez.  I love working in Ninilchik and had been planning to work here for many years to come.  Sadly, this proposal may end the years of incredible support that SPH has been providing to the Ninilchik clinic.  In the past 2 years Ninilchik Clinic has taken care of over 1,100 individual patients, including over 600 from Ninilchik and 50 from clam gulch.  We are not just a native clinic; we accept medicare, medicaid and most private insurance.  I know many of our local residents depend on our clinic for their primary care needs, as I am the only doctor working between Homer and Soldotna.  Additionally I am the only physician south of Soldotna to provide specialty treatment for addiction, an area of desperate need.

Please contact the borough assembly and let them know how important the Ninilchik clinic services are to you, and how critical it is to the health and well being of our community to keep the SPH hospital service area line north of the Ninilchik Clinic.  Ninilchik cannot afford to lose its only physician.

The sponsoring assembly member, Brent Johnson, has thus far only heard from people supporting moving the line farther south, and needs to hear from local residents that support the Clinic.

Ways to send communication:

• Once the current agenda is finalized, generally one week before the meeting, the public is welcome to comment on agenda items. Comments will be included in the public record, along with public comments presented in person at the meeting. Visit www.kpb.us/assembly-clerk/clerks-office/clerks-forms/eComme ;

• A correspondence module is on the borough’s site, but has limited space and needs reference to the ordinance: www.kpb.us/assembly-clerk/clerks-office/clerks-forms/email-assembly-memb...

• Old fashioned email to the clerk, who will forward it: assemblyclerk@kpb.us;

• Phone calls and emails directly to the assembly. For a list, see www.kpb.us/images/KPB/CLK/Documents/2015-2016_Assembly_Public_List_with_...

• Write Brent Johnson, Vice President (sponsoring assembly member), 20773 Porcupine Lane, Clam Gulch, Alaska 99568; 907-262-4763; Fax, 907-260-5367; email: bjohnson@kpb.us

Dr. Sarah Spencer works at South Peninsula Hospital and the Ninilchik Community Clinic. She also specializes in the treatment of opiate addiction, including prescription medicine and heroin.

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