- Associated Press - Monday, January 5, 2015

SITKA, Alaska (AP) - The CEO of Sitka’s community hospital said he missed a meeting last week because he was assaulted.

Jeff Comer said he could no longer stay in Sitka and planned to leave over the weekend.

Comer was scheduled to appear at a meeting with the Sitka Assembly on Friday. But he instead sent the hospital board president to read a statement from him. Comer said he was willing to help the city and hospital as needed, from Arizona, KCAW reported.

Sitka police Chief Sheldon Schmitt confirmed to the radio station that Comer called dispatch Friday afternoon to report an assault on a hiking trail after he was recognized as being the hospital CEO. Comer reported being knocked down and kicked. Schmitt said police were attempting to follow up with Comer to get a better description of his alleged assailants.

Comer took over as CEO of Sitka Community Hospital in September. The Sitka Sentinel reported that Comer had notified the city administrator, Mark Gorman, last Wednesday of plans to step down as CEO from the hospital, which is having financial troubles.

The assembly recently voted to extend a line of credit to the hospital from $500,000 to $1.5 million, to help cover costs for December and January.

Gorman told the newspaper that Comer had been an asset to the city.

“I feel that Jeff has all the skill sets that the hospital needs during this time of extreme financial stress,” Gorman said. “I think it’s a shame he’s leaving.”

The assembly needs to get more involved in efforts to bring stability to the hospital, Gorman said.

Mayor Mim McConnell said the biggest question will be how much the hospital board, assembly and community want to put toward the hospital to keep it operating.

“It doesn’t make enough money to keep it afloat,” she said. “If we want to have all these services, all this charity care, it’s going to take some subsidy to keep it afloat. … It’s already subsidized, and it’s not enough.”



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