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Some Questions Answered After Sunshine Clinic Board Meeting

by Phillip Manning ~ February 26th, 2014

Tuesday’s meeting of the Sunshine Community Health Center board of directors was attended by about twenty members of the community, many of whom drove from Talkeetna or Trapper Creek to Willow to attend.  There were a number of topics on their minds after two weeks of significant change at the Clinic.  Since the January meeting, Sunshine gained a Medical Director and lost an Executive Director.  In addition, community members were anxious to hear about services that had been suspended.

People with those questions probably did not get all the answers they wanted by the time the meeting concluded.  Recently hired Medical Director Shelis Jorgensen was introduced, as was Acting Interim Executive Director Melody Palermo.  Palermo had previously served as Operations Director for the Clinic.  Also in attendance was Sharon Scott from the Mat-Su Health Foundation, the organization that has offered $15,000 in grant funding to help the Clinic with training for the board of directors as well as other related activities.  After the introductions, the meeting proceeded with regular business, including the addition of Harold Conrad and Carla Kelley to the board.  

Near the end of the meeting, Medical Director Shelis Jorgensen said at least one of the services that had been recently suspended is now reinstated.  For part of this year, the Clinic refused to conduct lab tests and other diagnostic procedures that were recommended by a physician from outside of Sunshine Community Health Center.  Jorgensen says that drawing blood for lab work for those requests has resumed, and the Clinic is looking into bringing back other tests.  The after hours policy is also still under review.

There were occasional, oblique references to the termination of former Executive Director David Bryant, but the topic was not on the agenda, nor was the nature of the aid that Mat-Su Health Foundation would be providing.  On Wednesday, board president David Sutton offered some answers.  He says that the Mat-Su Health Foundation will be facilitating the training for the board, and that the Foraker Group may or may not be part of that.  Foraker is an organization that focuses on helping non-profit organizations remain healthy.

Sutton also says that while no hiring committee has been formed at this time for a permanent Executive Director, it is a high priority.  He says that it is not certain whether another Interim Executive Director will be sought, or whether she will remain in that position until a permanent hire is made.  Sutton says that he is pleased with Palermo’s performance thus far, and adds that the entire staff has been “awesome” through the transition.

The next meeting of the Sunshine Clinic board is scheduled for March 25th at the Talkeetna Clinic.

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