Healthcare Task Force debates direction

The borough’s newly formed Healthcare Task Force attempted to more clearly define its direction Wednesday night to help catch the Kenai Peninsula’s health care system up to the changes already taking hold elsewhere in the country.

The coalition, a combination of policymakers, providers and stakeholders, began meeting in August and plans to release a set of recommendations for policy changes to the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly. The Wednesday meeting saw comprehensive presentations by the Central Peninsula Hospital, the South Peninsula Hospital and two community health centers as well as the formation of a subcommittee to focus on provider and practitioner interests.

However, the task force is faced with a massive number of problems to tackle and little definitive direction other than “think outside the box.” Chairman Rick Ross, a former Kenai City Council member, made an open call for suggestions as to direction for the task force at the Wednesday meeting, which was met with a long pause.

The problems the group is tasked with solving are sweeping. The health care delivery system on the peninsula is “broken and fragmented,” according to Rick Davis, CEO of Central Peninsula Hospital and an ex-officio member of the task force. In his presentation, he highlighted the many challenges facing the hospital and other health care organizations: changes in reimbursement, expensive upgrades, challenges in staffing and increased demands on services.

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