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While there is certainly little good news heading the way of the Alaska Marine Highway System via the Legislature, Saturday proved somewhat of an exception.

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One issue after another comes up in Alaskans' days, but not many are as deserving of attention as suicide prevention.

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Sarah B. Gilbert, 71, died April 12 at her home in Ketchikan.
6/24/2013
We all need it

It all comes down to what one Ketchikan City Council member said Thursday night: “I need that hospital.“

We all do — the people of Ketchikan, Saxman, Metlakatla, Prince of Wales Island and beyond. And we need it to be a good hospital, with the highest quality of health care professionals.

Ketchikan Medical Center is just that, but it can’t stay that way with antiquated space. At some point, doctors, nurses and everyone else we depend on to care for us and our loved ones throw up their arms and say they can’t work without the right tools.

Thursday night, the Ketchikan City Council helped to give them the right tools, when it gave the nod to letting voters decide whether to issue $43 million in bonds for the hospital improvement project. City voters will vote yea or nay on Oct. 1.

The state — Gov. Sean Parnell and the Legislature both — already has stepped up. In a year of rightly tight capital spending, they nevertheless saw the need for the hospital improvements and allotted $15 million for the project. PeaceHealth has promised $8 million to equip the new space.

Now it will be time for Ketchikan voters to do the same. In addition to caring for the entire region’s physical health, the hospital contributes vastly to our economic well-being, too.

The City Council did well to recognize that and make it possible for the good work to continue.

We applaud them.

It’s our turn as voters next.