KETCHIKAN (AP) -- The Ketchikan Indian Corp. has reached an agreement with the Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium, the Village of Saxman and the Indian Health Service on hospital care for Natives in the Ketchikan area.
Ketchikan Indian Corp. and Saxman had said last year that they would withdraw hospital funding from the health consortium because they wanted local Natives to get treatment at Ketchikan General Hospital instead of Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital in Sitka.
A House-Senate conference committee on Wednesday agreed to include a provision in an Interior spending bill which will allow KIC to contract with Ketchian General Hospital. The health consortium will be compensated for the loss of patients.
KIC serves about 4,800 tribal members in Ketchikan and Saxman.
At a news conference in Ketchikan Wednesday, KIC President Stephanie Rainwater-Sande said she was pleased with the agreement.
''This news is definitely a big step for Ketchikan Indian Corp. and the members are very happy they will be able to receive services at Ketchikan General Hospital.
KIC General Manager Charlie White said funding will come from Mt. Edgecumbe as well as new Congressional appropriations, based on an annual funding formula. The total funding should be $550,000 annually, White said.
''Not 100 percent of our patients will be able to stay here. But a majority of our patients will be able to stay in Ketchikan for hospital care,'' White said. ''We've got the best of both worlds and it is an amicable solution arrived at by all parties.''
Patients needing more serious care will be referred to Mt. Edgecumbe.
White said KIC hopes to finalize the arrangement before Oct. 1.
As part of the agreement, KIC and Saxman will each have a representative on the consortium's governing board.
KIC officials said an average of 150 Ketchikan patients must travel to Sitka for treatment at Mt. Edgecumbe each year at a cost of about $130,000. KIC officials said that money will now go directly to health care.
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