Providence completes construction on housing for new staff

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Providence Kodiak Island Medical Center has a solution for the island’s housing shortage – building its own apartment complex for new employees. The new units are on the edge of Providence’s campus, just a short walk from the rest of the company’s facilities. The building has been under construction for the last two years, but it’s finally ready to open. 

The new facility is also across from Kodiak Powersports and Marine, August 23, 2023. (Brian Venua/KMXT)

Karl Hertz is the administrator at the medical center. He said housing has been one of the biggest challenges the hospital has faced when hiring new staff. 

“We had about 10 of them over the course of two or three months that called back and said, ‘Hey, we changed our mind – we can’t come to Kodiak because we can’t find housing.’ And so that was kind of the red flag that went up in our mind,” he said.

Providence already owned the lot and funding for construction came through the company’s operating budget. 

The single bedroom apartments have about 800 square feet of space, the two bedroom ones have about double that, August 23, 2023. (Brian Venua/KMXT)

The building has 16 units – four of them have two bedrooms, the rest have a single bedroom each. Apartments have basic furniture like couches, a dining table, beds, and each unit even has its own washer and dryer. Hertz said the goal is to make the move easier for prospective new hires. 

“This is designed for new caregivers who are relocating to the island as kind of a safe landing spot for them so they know that they have a place to live while they look for a permanent home – they can rent this facility up to 12 months with approval,” he said.

The new units are already cleaned and ready for employees to move in, August 23, 2023. (Brian Venua/KMXT)

Rent starts at $1,400 a month for the smaller apartments and includes all utilities except internet. Hertz said a big move is already daunting – let alone finding housing. When he first moved to the island two years ago, he had no idea how competitive the market here was. 

“I remember the anxiety far too well of this pressure of not only do I have to work and take care of folks at the hospital, but my side hustle is looking online and trying to find an apartment complex,” Hertz said.

Administration may use some of the units to house temporary staff like traveling nurses, but Hertz said permanent staff will get first dibs.

He said building temporary housing like this barely puts a dent in the island’s market, but hopes other companies in town follow their lead to get more working professionals to the community. 

“I hope that this model might spark the interest of the imagination of some other providers in town or other industries in town,” Hertz said. “I know that it’s difficult for all of our companies and organizations in town to recruit to Kodiak, it’s just challenging.” 

Medical center staff will host a ribbon cutting and open house for the public on August 29. The first tenant is scheduled to move in next month, and four more are pending approval. 

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