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Access to Specialty Care Just Got Better in Southeast

As Alaskans, most of us are used to going to just one doctor when we’re sick. Our main doctor, known as our primary care physician, is trained in just about every field of medicine there is, so they often know just what to do when we come down with something that home remedies won’t fix. For everyday medical conditions, we trust our primary care physician to help us recover from most illnesses we can’t handle on our own.

But sometimes, there are cases when we need to see a doctor who’s had additional education and been board certified in a particular field of medicine. They are known as specialists and the care they provide is called specialty care. We see specialists based on referrals from our primary care physician, and oftentimes their expertise is needed when our illnesses are more complex to heal than the care our primary care physician can provide.

Female patient smiling with medical provider putting hand on her shoulder.

Specialty care is needed in rural areas

According to a National Quality Forum report on improving access to care in rural areas, access to quality specialty doctors is a pressing problem because it impacts the quality of care we receive as a whole.[1] This trend is one of the main reasons SEARHC is creating partnerships to bring additional specialty care services closer to home in Sitka and surrounding communities.

SEARHC already partners with the Alaska Native Medical Center (ANMC) to provide specialty care access to our communities. In addition to those services, SEARHC is excited to announce its partnership with Swedish Health Network (Swedish), to improve access to additional specialty care services and better coordination of care for all of Southeast Alaska.

Benefits of partnering with Swedish

After a thorough search of prospective affiliates, including multiple site visits, SEARHC identified Swedish as an ideal partner. Swedish began more than a century ago as 24-bed facility that has grown into the largest not-for-profit healthcare provider in the greater Seattle area. Swedish’s commitment to high-quality care and mission, vision and values are in concert with SEARHC’s.

Swedish will provide an estimated 12 specialists: two cardiologists, two neurologists, two rheumatologists, two urologists, three otolaryngologists (ENT) and one dermatologist and looking to recruit more. Clinics will be held at Mt. Edgecumbe Medical Center and will eventually expand to additional locations like Juneau.

Through this partnership, we can count on an expansion of specialty services in Southeast Alaska, increased continuity of care options and better-coordinated healthcare experiences.

For more information about our specialty care clinics and schedule please visit https://searhc.org/service/traveling-specialty-clinics/.

[1] http://www.qualityforum.org/Publications/2018/08/MAP_Rural_Health_Final_Report_-_2018.aspx


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The SEARHC Crisis Help Line, 1.877.294.0074, is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to residents of Southeast Alaska.