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Empire Editorial: Front Street Clinic: Blessings and uncertainties

Posted: September 9, 2013 - 10:14pm  |  Updated: September 10, 2013 - 12:00am

It’s amazing that more than $100,000 was raised in less than a week to save the Front Street Clinic.

With that money, approximately 300 homeless and low-income locals will benefit from continued care at the local clinic which aids in everything from basic care to the prolonged prescription of mental health drugs, not to mention the identification of issues more life threatening.

Glory Hole Director Mariya Lovishchuk deserves a big high five... more than that, actually. In mere days she rallied the likes of doctors, she appealed to community organizations and faith groups. Anonymous individuals chipped in, too.

Now, the clinic has a buffer — but a buffer that will only delay what could be inevitable. You see, $46,000 is still needed to keep the clinic open for the next six months. One could argue it’s the cruelest six months that Alaska has to offer. The days are getting shorter, nights cooler and longer, but before long we’ll be dipping into single digits, burning that heating oil longer and shrugging as electric bills climb in response to the turned-up baseboard heaters.

For some of those 300 Front Street Clinic patients, huddling next to a monitor heater or merely staying out of the elements is not always an option. Some survive in handmade shelters, bundled up in donated winter wear and kept warm with layers and body heat. Perhaps you remember 30-year-old Vicki Shenefield from an Empire story last year in December? Certainly, she utilized the services of the Front Street Clinic.

Did you know the clinic also hands out gloves, hats and other types of cold weather apparel? In the past fiscal year, the clinic had more than 2,300 patient visits.

Today, organizers with the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services are holding a meeting at 1 p.m. in the CBJ Assembly chambers to set goals moving forward, to brainstorm how to make a community health center a reality. They want to provide care to all in need and bill on a sliding scale — lower income patients will pay what they can, while some will not have to pay at all. Those without health insurance would still be able to receive care.

But a community health center is still a long way off, or maybe not. Surprises abound in our fair city.

One thing’s for sure, the fate of the Front Street Clinic is still one big question mark.

Juneau, let’s band together and save what is obviously worth saving. Donations are currently being accepted through the Juneau Community Foundation. More information may be obtained by contacting Amy Skilbred at amy@juneaucf.org or by calling 523-5450.

Let’s get involved to cultivate a permanent solution. People’s lives depend on it.

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