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Providence Kodiak Island Medical Center administrator Karl Hertz says lately, it’s been hard to attract new employees to the island. Last year, he says nine new hires withdrew after they were unable to find somewhere to live. Hertz says he had trouble himself when he first came to Kodiak.
“When I moved in January, a couple years ago, I had a real challenge finding a home for my family and I. And in fact, it took me all of six months before I could locate one. And I firsthand learned the anxiety when you think you’re going to lose your place to live. And so I wanted to work with Providence to make it easier for folks to move onto the island,” Hertz said.
So, last year, Hertz decided to tackle the problem head-on. That led to the groundbreaking of the $5.1 million housing structure last Thursday.
The 16 one- and two-bedroom apartments are intended to serve as short-term housing for doctors and nurses while they look for permanent options. Hertz says the units look more like hotel rooms than traditional apartments.
“I’m imagining the average length of stay for our caregivers will be right around the six-month mark, depending on how fast they can find other housing- these aren’t giant apartments. So they’re not designed for caregivers to stay in for years. But it will be a nice, clean, safe space for them to be while they search,” Hertz said.
Hertz says housing is a problem for hospitals around the country, and he thinks that this housing model could be just the solution they need. While Providence does have caregiver housing in locations around the country, it has never operated as the landlord in any of them.
“I think this is a beta test for Providence. And if it works, I could see Providence as well as other health systems following suit. Hospital workers are fleeing high housing costs all across the country. And so hospital systems, individual hospitals are gonna have to figure out a way to provide workforce housing if they want to have a workforce,” Hertz said.
The new housing is being constructed at 110 Bartell Ave, walking distance from PKIMC. Construction is expected to be completed in August of next year, with new residents moving in a month later.