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Unalaska's Clinic Announces New CEO Hire, Positive Finish To FY19

Laura Kraegel

After a roughly seven-month search, Unalaska's health clinic has hired a new CEO. 

Melanee Tiura will start work Sept. 1, after moving with her family from Michigan. 

"She's had experience in Alaska," said Will Rodgers, interim CEO at Iliuliuk Family and Health Services (IFHS). "She was actually a member of the board of the Alaska Primary Care Association."

Tiura previously worked at the Bristol Bay Area Health Corporation between 2010 and 2014.

Rodgers said the hire isn't the only good news for IFHS. The nonprofit clinic also finished fiscal year 2019 in the black, despite concerns that it wouldn't make payroll in the spring.

"We're in fairly good shape financially," said Rodgers. "We finished our fiscal year June 30, and pre-audit numbers would indicate that we're in the black. We've moved from losing about $400,000 to having close to $200,000." 

Rodgers credited the financial reversal, in large part, to an emergency grant from the City of Unalaska. In April, the City Council voted unanimously to lend $500,000 to the clinic, which requested help after projecting its ninth deficit in 10 years.

"The city has been very generous in loaning some money to get [IFHS] over a rough period," he said. 

The loan is helping the clinic to stabilize its inconsistent cash flow while organization leaders continue their long-term efforts to improve its financial strategy. That includes reducing its use of short-term locum providers, working through the kinks in its new billing system, and building its partnership with the Aleutian Pribilof Islands Association (APIA).

The clinic is also receiving help in the form of a large donation. American Seafoods Group has contributed $125,000 to help pay for new ultrasound equipment, vital signs monitors, and communications systems for electronic patient records. 

"It is very, very sizeable donation," said Valentina Zackrone, chief human resources officer for the seafood company. It operates six fishing vessels from Dutch Harbor, and Zackrone said its seasonal workers rely on IFHS.

"I think it truly reflects our recognition that the clinic is critically important to the vitality and well-being of the island," she said. 

The donation will help replace equipment that was purchased in 2002. Rodgers also said it'll let the clinic update its systems without dipping into its still-stabilizing operating budget.

"We've hit that positive bottom line, but we don't have enough to take care of these needs for replacement and new equipment," he said. "So that's exciting — to be able to have that kind of support in the community."

Rodgers' last day at IFHS will be Sept. 13. He began serving as interim CEO after James Kaech left in February.

Hope McKenney reported for KUCB from 2019 until 2022. She was KUCB's news director starting in 2021.
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