South Peninsula Hospital

Courtesy of the Kenai Peninsula Borough

Voters will have a chance to decide whether to expand two hospital service areas this fall. The Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly voted unanimously Tuesday to pass an ordinance that will put two propositions on the ballot. One would propose to shift the Central Peninsula Hospital service area south and the other would propose shifting the South Peninsula Hospital service area to include areas on the south side of Kachemak Bay.

Holly Torres

The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services is swamped with applications for programs such as Medicaid, food stamps and temporary assistance for families. But the backlog of applications for Medicaid is certainly the largest, and it’s hitting Alaskans with disabilities hard. Patients are often left without insurance and go weeks or even months just trying to get someone from the department on the phone.

Several women have brought forth allegations against a South Peninsula Hospital department manager in Homer, describing an environment of bullying and sexual harassment.

 

The allegations against Douglas Westphal, the former director of the hospital’s rehab department, also include one instance of alleged sexual assault. Complaints have also been filed with the state Division of Professional Licensing, the local union and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Courtesy of the Kenai Peninsula Borough

The Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly is set to introduce an ordinance that would move the boundary of the Central Peninsula Hospital service area south to include all of Ninilchik. The current boundary sits just south of Clam Gulch at about mile 119 on the Sterling Highway. The move would mean less tax revenue for the South Peninsula Hospital, but it would also significantly lower property taxes for Ninilchik residents, setting up a discussion that played out back in 2016 when a similar proposal failed.

South Peninsula Hospital

It's a good job market for healthcare professionals. The older population is driving the need for more care and hospitals are expanding their services. On the Kenai Peninsula, healthcare-support jobs are predicated to be the fastest growing occupation this year with the amount of jobs increasing by  2.5 percent. But recruiting healthcare workers to rural Alaska continues to be a challenge.

The Kenai Peninsula Borough’s population, like many places in Alaska, is aging.

South Peninsula Hospital

South Peninsula Hospital has a new CEO. Joe Woodin is taking over after Robert Letson retired this fall. Woodin has thirty years of experience in healthcare leadership in Massachusetts and Vermont. He said South Peninsula Hospital has similar qualities and challenges to the other small-sized hospitals where he’s worked.

south Peninsula Haven House

Sexual Assault -  Education, Prevention and Response  is the topic on this week's Coffee Table. 
Guests: Chris Fontaine, Forensic Nurse, South Peninsula Hospital, Amy Woodruff, Prevention Coordinator, Haven House and Doug Koester
Trainer, Facilitator, Green Dot Homer.

 

Photo Courtesy of South Peninsula Hospital

The South Peninsula Hospital has been looking for ways to fill a budget gap after the state made a 5-percent cut to Medicaid reimbursement rates in September.

The program pays for low-income patients’ hospital bills with state and federal dollars. The cut extends to both inpatient and outpatient care given since July 1, potentially costing the hospital over $1 million dollars.

Photo Courtesy of South Peninsula Hospital

A decision to reduce state Medicaid funding is putting a fiscal strain on the South Peninsula Hospital in Homer. The hospital could receive about $1 million less in Medicaid reimbursements from the state.

When a patient checks the Medicaid box on their hospital bill, the bill is paid with state and federal dollars set aside for Medicaid.

South Peninsula Hospital CEO Robert Letson announced his retirement last week, ending his decade-long stint in Homer. Letson decided to retire after a couple of family members dealt with health issues over the past year, but he plans to stay on for the next nine months, affording the hospital’s board ample time to find a replacement.

Prior to working at SPH, Letson worked at both for-profit and non-profit hospitals around Georgia and the Carolinas for about 30 years.

He said when he made his initial site visit to Homer, the Kenai Peninsula’s beauty sold itself.

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