Commentary: NVE, city assess Cordova’s healthcare needs

Leaders are developing a team to research options and feasibility

The Cordova Community Medical Center. (Jan. 9, 2019.) Photo by Emily Mesner/The Cordova Times

By Darrel Olsen
For The Cordova Times

Many Cordova residents are wondering what is happening with respect to the Cordova Hospital. We wanted to outline for the community as much information as we can at this point, with the intention of keeping you all informed in the coming months.

At this time, the city has indicated its interest in having the Native Village of Eyak take over operation of the hospital. This issue has been the subject of speculation for some time, and we’d like to address some of the timing and other points surrounding this.

In the coming weeks and months, NVE and the Cordova Community Medical Center Health Board will be developing an assessment team to look at health care options for Cordova, including the feasibility of operating the hospital.

It is important that the entire community be aware that nothing has been proposed, signed or approved with respect to future operations, as NVE must undertake its due diligence first, before we can move forward with a solid plan.

We are working with the city and the health board, which initiated this process to determine a feasible path for the hospital. We’re hopeful as we gather relevant information and delve into the hospital’s operations, we can reach an agreement that will maintain quality, affordable healthcare in Cordova.

There are many concerns and questions in the community, and we take all these seriously. These are many of the same questions we had when we were asked to participate in this process.

We know the employees and community are concerned about staff retention and retirement benefits. This is certainly an area we will be reviewing as we undertake our review and assessment.

We know there is some skepticism in the community that if the city of Cordova could not make the hospital a break-even operation, why would it be different under new management?

Others have questions about the timeframe for NVE’s assessment and potential management proposal.

As we move forward with this process, NVE and the city will ask all of the critical questions and work closely together to determine the best way to provide Cordova residents with a quality hospital and healthcare.

In the coming weeks we will be providing ongoing updates. Information will be coming through the NVE office as our assessment team begins its work. We appreciate the community’s patience and support as we undertake our due diligence.

Darrel Olsen is chairman of the Tribal Council for Native Village of Eyak.