- Associated Press - Friday, July 21, 2017

SITKA, Alaska (AP) - The City and Borough Assembly of Sitka is seeking proposals to help decide how to provide hospital service to its residents.

The group had a special meeting Tuesday where a motion to publish a request for additional proposals for the hospital was passed.

Already on the table were proposals from Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium to buy Sitka Community Hospital, and one from SCH showing how the city hospital could survive as a stand-alone facility.

A businessman has also stated that he would like an opportunity to make a bid on buying the hospital, the Daily Sitka Sentinel reported (https://bit.ly/2tN6ogR ).

The motion was to ask staff to work with an outside firm to draft a request for proposal for Assembly review seeking ways to increase the quality of health care offered to Sitkans, the scope of services offered and improving the financial position of Sitka Community Hospital.

The motion passed, 6-1, with Steven Eisenbeisz opposed.

“I just didn’t know what I was voting on,” he said. “I would’ve liked to have seen it gone to a committee to refine the motion before it comes back to the Assembly.”

About 60 people attended the meeting. A number testified about the need for a town hall meeting and a more general discussion about health care in Sitka.

Bryan Bertacchi, president of the hospital board, urged the Assembly to be as specific as possible.

“If the community desires to move forward with a change to the hospital, let the process be designed to answer important questions of the community,” he said.

The city and the Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium jointly sponsored a study by ECG, a consulting firm specializing in hospital mergers, to make recommendations on how the two hospitals in Sitka could work together.

In a report, ECG said the best solution for Sitka, both financially and in improved health care, would be to merge with the Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium, which then offered to purchase the Sitka hospital for $6.5 million.

The hospital then commissioned a study to show the Assembly how it could operate on its own.

In the meantime, Rob Petrie, a businessman with property in Sitka and Texas, said he wanted the opportunity to make a bid on buying the hospital.

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