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  6.  | Alaska Regional Hospital Tries Again to Extend Services to South Anchorage

Alaska Regional Hospital Tries Again to Extend Services to South Anchorage

Jul 8, 2024 | Healthcare, News

Photo Credit: svitlanah | Envato

Alaska Regional Hospital (ARH) is proposing to expand its life-saving healthcare services into South Anchorage with a new Certificate of Need application. The hospital announced it is again seeking state approval to build a full-service emergency room facility to meet what hospital officials say is a growing need for services in Anchorage.

Expanding Healthcare in Anchorage

The proposed South Anchorage Emergency Room (ER), located at 11841 Old Seward Highway, will bring emergency services to a part of the community that currently lacks easy access to emergency care from board-certified ER physicians. It will be a full-service emergency room capable of caring for various levels of medical needs including heart attacks, strokes, intensive trauma, and bone fractures. In addition to five emergency room beds, the facility will include hospital-level diagnostic, imaging, and laboratory facilities.

ARH is a nationally recognized, 250-bed hospital that has been serving Alaskans for more than sixty years. Originally opened in 1963 as Anchorage Presbyterian Hospital, the facility has continually enhanced and expanded its services, and today has more than 1,000 colleagues and more than 500 affiliated providers. The hospital is part of HCA Healthcare, one of the nation’s leading providers of health services. HCA Healthcare’s Mountain Division, which encompasses ARH as well as care sites in Utah and Idaho, was recently named one of the nation’s 15 Top Health Systems.

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If approved, the South Anchorage ER would operate as a Joint Commission-accredited department of Alaska Regional Hospital and will provide 24-hour emergency care through physicians and staff with the same clinical services provided at the main campus ER.

“We heard the community’s call for more healthcare services, and we are answering it. This facility will increase the number of ER beds in the city—something the community desperately needs,” says Jennifer Opsut, chief executive officer of ARH, which treated a record 40,000 patients in its main campus ER last year. “We will be offering the 110,000 plus residents of South Anchorage the same nationally recognized care offered at our main campus ER, but much closer to their homes, schools, outdoor recreation spots and workplaces.”

Emergency room demand in Anchorage is rising, but ARH officials say capacity has not kept pace. ARH’s ER volume has increased 14 percent since last year, and ambulance arrivals are up 23 percent. Opening a new ER in South Anchorage will relieve the growing pressure on other emergency rooms in the area and ensure a higher level of care from physician to patient.

“In an emergency, minutes matter. Having the right level of care just minutes from home could make all the difference in a life-threatening medical situation,” Opsut says. “This new ER will save and improve lives, and bring added peace of mind to families, schools, and businesses in South Anchorage.”

ARH has requested a Certificate of Need from the Alaska Department of Health, which is required for the development of this facility. This application follows a 2015 application for a satellite emergency department in South Anchorage, paired with another in Eagle River; and a May 2023 application focusing on expansion in South Anchorage alone. Both previous applications were rejected; Department of Health staff in October 2023 cited staff findings that Anchorage did not need a standalone ER and that the application did not demonstrate stakeholder involvement.

As part of HCA Healthcare, one of the nation’s leading providers of health services, ARH is able to bring the data, insights, and best practices from more than 43 million annual patient interactions to improve care for families in Alaska.

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Welcome to the 2024 Best of Alaska Business special section! For the ninth time we invited our readers to tell us which Alaska businesses they love the most, this year in forty-four categories. Throughout the month of March, you told us who should be featured in these pages, and we're thrilled to be able to publish the results.
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