After votes by the Wrangell Borough Assembly and the SEARHC Board of Directors, the parties have the green light to bring WMC under the SEARHC umbrella.
As the joint press release states, the Borough and and SEARHC can now "officially move forward formalizing an affiliation to transfer the operations of the hospital." It's a mouthful, but in short - SEARHC is going to run WMC, with a target date for the day after Halloween.
SEARHC will be responsible for all operational, financial and legal costs for operating the current WMC facility and services. In addition to keeping the doors open on our 50-year-old hospital, they've also promised to build that new healthcare campus they've been talking about, and have be cutting the ribbon on that property in less than four years.
So what's next? Well, for starters, about 90-120 days of paperwork. Ensuring a smooth hand-off of a hospital is quite the process. We're not just talking about the 60-some staff who will be SEARHC employees by the holidays, or the patients and residents who will be under WMC-watch at the time of the transfer. This paperwork will spell out how to sign over everything but the building and the accounts receivable, which will stay with the City.
Wold Architects have been given the go-ahead to flesh out those design plans. Hopefully they'll be able to come back and give the community another taste of conceptual drawings to hold us over. This is Alaska, which means fair-weather construction, so look for SEARHC to push for some work to be done on the new campus next summer. If not, they could be pushing it with that four-year window.
Keep checking the blog for more updates. A major hurdle has been cleared, perhaps the tallest one, but we still have a ways to go before WMC staff is wearing SEARHC swag and patients are being cared for on Wood St.