Juneau health clinic faces staffing challenges

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JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — A Juneau health center that faced closure earlier this year over funding now is struggling to keep top positions filled.

The longtime face of the Front Street Community Health Center, nurse practitioner Janna Brewster, has left. The center does not have a dentist and by month's end, the interim executive director will be gone.

The center provides health services to homeless and low-income individuals in Juneau. It has a temporary contract with an Anchorage-based nurse practitioner.

Brewster declined to comment on why she left, the Juneau Empire reported (http://bit.ly/1Apqlbg ). But board president Mariya Lovishchuk said it is stressful doing "social service type work, especially combined with medical stuff."

She also acknowledged that there have been challenges with the transition from the clinic being operated by SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium to it being an independent community health center.

"It's definitely not as stable, you've got to kind of roll with the punches," Lovishchuk said. "But the nice thing is, minus the fact that we don't have a nurse practitioner and we really need one, and we don't have a dentist on site and we really need one, everything else is going really well, I think. The financial difficulties are definitely not as bad as they were."

The board plans to handle the clinic's administrative side while it begins to look for a new executive director but the clinic's real need is health care providers, she said.

The clinic has been using an outside company to try to find and hire staff. But Lovishchuk said the board's preference would be to hire a permanent nurse practitioner and dentist from nearby.

Even with the staffing issues, Lovishchuk said the clinic has continued to provide care to existing patients and those who have enrolled since the health clinic began accepting patients who don't qualify as homeless.


Information from: Juneau (Alaska) Empire, http://www.juneauempire.com

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