SEARHC celebrates clinic opening

New $10 million facility will treat more patients

Posted: Sunday, April 06, 2003

The SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium held the grand opening Saturday for its new $10 million clinic near Salmon Creek.

Officials at the Native-run health care organization said the 32,000-square-foot building allows it to care for more patients. And an approximately $500,000 Indian Health Service grant has paid for equipment, some of which reduces the need to send patients out of town for services.

Standing at a lectern next to a carved "leadership staff" that was presented to SEARHC by Sitka elders several years ago, speakers praised the foresight of the SEARHC board and administrators and the unity of Southeast tribes, whose members it serves.

"This is the culmination of many years of dreaming to be here today," said Ethel Lund, the SEARHC president emeritus. SEARHC has had many homes in its 27 years in Juneau, she said.

"The sole purpose of all of these efforts, the single focal point, is for improved services to our patients," Lund said.

The annual number of visits by SEARHC patients has more than doubled since the early 1980s, officials said.

The clinic, 25,000 square feet of which have been developed, lets doctors see more patients in a day because it has more examination rooms, said Roald Helgesen, incoming vice president of administration.

"The doctors don't have the down time, and that's critical," he said.

Moved into the new building are diagnostic imaging, family practice, specialty clinics, women's health programs, the laboratory, nutrition and pharmacy services, and administrative and support services. It opened to patients on March 17.

The health-promotion department, and mental health and optometry services remain in the SEARHC Annex, on Hospital Drive. Dental services remain on the second floor of the former clinic building, also on Hospital Drive.

The new clinic, designed by Juneau architects Jensen Yorba Lott and built by general contractor McGraw's Custom Construction of Sitka, was completed on time and within budget, SEARHC officials said. It was financed by SEARHC, with the help of pass-through revenue bonds by the city.

Eric Fry can be reached at

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