Alaska Regional Hospital closes new primary care clinic

Alaska Regional Hospital has closed its new primary care clinic in Mountain View. While the closure is meant to be temporary, there is no current plan for reopening the clinic.

The clinic was opened in December to help drive down the number of unnecessary emergency department visits at Alaska Regional Hospital. The clinic was Mountain View’s first primary clinic since 2008 when Anchorage Neighborhood Health Center moved to Midtown.

In 2015, the hospital saw 5,000 emergency department visits from Mountain View residents, almost half of which would be better suited for a primary care setting.

But only 10 percent of appointments at the clinic were for primary care. The remainder were complex physical and mental health problems that required long-term attention and support, which the clinic was not set up to handle.

While the hospital expected the clinic to lose up to $750,000 annually, financial losses were nearly double original projections and there was little change in unnecessary emergency department utilization. The clinic accepted Medicare, Medicaid, and Tricare patients and offered a sliding-scale fee schedule for patients who did not have insurance.

Alaska Regional Hospital’s lease does not expire until 2021, so there is a possibility the clinic will return or the hospital will implement a new care delivery model. A letter posted on the clinic’s door notifying patients of the closure reads, “With the goal of providing a sustainable alternative the in near future, we are evaluating different models for delivering patient care in this community.”

In the meantime, residents of Mountain View, like the majority of Alaskans, continue to struggle with gaining the access to care at the appropriate level.