After months of negotiations, SEARHC takes over Wrangell Medical Center

Wrangell Medical Center is being transferred to the Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium this week. As of today, the hospital will be run by SEARHC.

That’s following Wrangell voters overwhelmingly approving the transfer of the city-run complex to the tribal health organization in the October election. The deal was recently inked by the Wrangell Assembly and SEARHC’s board of directors.

SEARHC spokeswoman Stacy Smith says hospital staff have been gearing up for this transition. The community shouldn’t expect change overnight. It’s still the same place with the same people.

“So they’re not going to feel like it’s foreign, and they don’t know anyone and the procedures are different,” Smith said. “Everything’s going to feel familiar as it was the day before.”

That’s largely because staff will be retained as SEARHC employees.

The health consortium said there will be eventual changes. But only as needed.

SEARHC is working to build a new critical-access hospital with long-term care. It’s scheduled to be complete by 2021. It’s unclear what will happen to the original hospital once the new complex is up and running.

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