Patients dismayed by upcoming closure of Alaska Regional Senior Health Clinic

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Published: Jan. 24, 2023 at 5:45 PM AKST|Updated: Jan. 25, 2023 at 4:15 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The upcoming closure of a senior health care clinic in Anchorage came as a surprise to many of the clinic’s patients, many of whom rely on health care from providers who accept Medicare.

Jeanne L., who asked to not have her last name used, heard the news last week while having lunch with her sister-in-law.

“In conversation, passing, she goes, ‘Oh, did you know that Alaska Regional Senior Center is closing?’ and I said, I don’t believe. How could they do that?” Jeanne said.

“I can’t, I can’t put it in words.”

Jeanne has been a patient at the Alaska Regional Senior Health Clinic since 2020. But starting Feb. 28, Jeanne and hundreds of others will need to find a new primary care provider.

The hospital said they began the process of mailing letters to inform patients last week, but Jeanne said she hasn’t received one.

According to the hospital, the closure is due to a lack of staffing.

“We have been unable to keep key positions filled at the clinic and at this time, we can no longer maintain clinic operations,” a statement from Alaska Regional Hospital said.

The sudden closure is catching many patients by surprise.

“If I haven’t had the conversation with my sister, I would know nothing right now,” Jeanne said.

The lack of available information led Jeanne to search for answers on her own.

On Monday, Jeanne went to the clinic to see if there was a large sign indicating that they were closing at the end of next month — she saw none. When she asked the receptionist at the clinic, she was handed a letter dated Dec. 28 that informed her the clinic would be closing at the end of February.

The receptionist did provide Jeannie with a list of three other Anchorage providers that accept Medicare. However, while calling other places, she discovered wait time to see a doctor was several months out.

“It would be March, April, or June depending on which one I choose, depending if I made an appointment that day,” Jeanne said.

Now, Jeanne says, she is faced with a limited time to find a new health care provider.

“It’s such a disappointment that we don’t have the security of basic health available without having to jump through so many hoops,” she said.