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Hospital services forum set

Daily News Staff Writer

While PeaceHealth's lease for the Ketchikan Medical Center doesn't expire until 2023, lease negotiations are well underway.

ECG Management Consultants, who the city hired to assess the current lease and provide direction on a future lease, will present at a community public forum 6 p.m. Thursday at the Ted Ferry Civic Center. ECG also will listen to feedback and questions raised by residents.

The Ketchikan City Council has debated whether to develop an operations lease that would provide the city with greater input on the services provided, or stick with something similar to their current building lease.

Because the city owns the Ketchikan Medical Center, council members have heard many complaints about treatment and service from PeaceHealth, but the city has no input on how PeaceHealth conducts operations.

What's more, until recently there wasn't a formal way for patients to communicate with PeaceHealth about their concerns. Also, the PeaceHealth hospital board meetings aren't open to the public.

Since PeaceHealth reached out to the city in the fall of 2018 to begin the process of drafting a new lease agreement, these issues have come to the forefront.

At the end of March, the Ketchikan City Council held a public work session with the PeaceHealth Ketchikan Medical Center Community Health Board to hear feedback from the community.

Feedback ran the gamut of complaints, thankfulness and ideas for change.

In early May the City Council approved in a $200,000 contract with ECG regarding the development of a new lease.

There had been much debate over this contract since it was first entertained in the fall of 2018. Part of that debate came from a concern over a conflict of interest. ECG was working with PeaceHealth in another capacity in another state. Concerns have since been alleviated with assurances from ECG that none of the same people would be involved in the two projects.

The contract approved in May is for phase one of a four-phase plan. Phase one includes assessing the current contract with PeaceHealth, developing a communication and engagement plan, and conducting stakeholder interviews and two community forums.

The event Thursday night is the first of the community forums.

Contracts for future phases of the plan would be individually assessed before going forward, depending on what direction the council decides to go. Other phases would include negotiations with PeaceHealth, developing a request of proposals from other providers, and implementing a new contract.

ECG is expected to complete their phase-one assessments and deliver them to the City Council this fall.