Juneau public health center faces possible closure

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Budget problems are threatening to force the closure of a public health center that treats homeless and low-income residents of Alaska’s capital city.

The Front Street Clinic in Juneau is run by the Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium, which told KTOO (http://bit.ly/19vwrun) in a story Sunday that it is facing federal budget cuts and a possible reorganization.

A decision on whether to keep the clinic open will be made at an upcoming board meeting, consortium spokesman Michael Jenkins said.

As many as 25 people a day visit the clinic for medical, dental and behavioral health services. Veteran Michael Needham said he has been going to the clinic for three years and likes the way the staff treats him. He was having impressions made for dentures on a recent visit.

“They’re very thorough with what they’re doing and I thank God every day for them,” Needham said.

Janna Brewster, the clinic’s manager and a medical provider, said the health conditions of patients vary. Some are struggling against diabetes, high blood pressure, lung disorders or even cancer.

“Without Front Street, undoubtedly, some of these folks will die because they’re not going to have the day-to-day care that we can help them with,” she said.

Ten percent of clinic patients are Alaska Native and can go to the consortium’s Ethel Lund Medical Center if the clinic closes. Brewster said she doesn’t know where the others might go.

Dentist Ed Linsell, who been practicing at the clinic for nearly all 10 years of its operation, said staff members are determined to do what is necessary to keep the clinic open.

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Information from: KTOO-FM, http://www.ktoo.org

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