Local clinic works to serve its clients as its patient load almost doubles

Stethoscope. (Photo by jasleen_kaur/ Flickr)

Mitch Borden/KMXT

Earlier this fall, Kodiak Island Medical Associates closed its doors. Many of its former patients are turning to the Kodiak Community Health Center for their medical needs, which is putting a little bit of pressure on the clinic’s staff.

“We’ve been really busy. We were feeling it pretty significantly through the whole clinic as far as whether it’s support staff or ancillary staff, our provider staff, our administration, all of us are feeling pretty overwhelmed because, you know, basically we are taking kind of the burden of care of the community on right now.”

Jessica Cotton is the executive director of the Kodiak Community Health Center. She says the health center has hired additional personnel to compensate for the increase in patients, including care providers that used to work for KIMA. Even though the clinic’s almost doubled its staff, the new patients are a heavy load to bear.

“Historically we were seeing about 40 patients a day and right now we are seeing well over 90 patients a day. So we have more than doubled the amount of patients that we are seeing and we anticipate that will continue to grow.”

The health center is still in a transitional stage with its new staff and patients. This is causing some people to face longer waits for certain types of appointments. Cotton says this isn’t ideal, but so far the community has been understanding. All in all, Cotton says things are going way smoother than she thought they would go. And she thinks the staff is working well together during this time of change.

“We’re all learning from each other, and you know it’s not been simple, but it has not been as hard as I anticipated. I expected it to be a lot more rigorous than it has been. So I am really grateful.”

Cotton says, before KIMA closed, the health center served around 3,000 people in the region. Now though, she estimates that number may go up to around 6,000. Even with that increase, Cotton thinks the Kodiak Community Health Center will be running smoothly by this summer.

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