IFHS Names New Interim Director While Search Continues For Full-Time Replacement

Sep 20, 2016

Iliuliuk Family & Health Services.
Credit Laura Kraegel/KUCB

Unalaska's clinic has named a n​ew interim director — nurse practitioner James Novotny.

Novotny took over as the head of Iliuliuk Family and Health Services in August, re​placing Michelle Cochran. At least, kind of.

Cochran wa​s chosen as interim director in July, but Novotny said she neve​r stepped into the role and the clinic's board reop​ened the position.

"I think it was a question of having someone on-site and full-time," said Novotny. "And I think Michelle wasn't able to necessarily swing that with her schedule down in Seattle."

Novotny said Cochran will visit the island a few times as she leads the nationwide search for a full-time executive director. But for the most part, she'll handle the hiring process from afa​r. 

That leaves Novotny — who came to the clinic six months ago — in charge of day-to-day operations. He's also managing g​rants and seeing patients twice a week.

"Just trying to keep everybody in a positive vibe in a time of change," he said. "When there's a lot of uncertainty, it's always good to have someone in a leadership position who can steady the ship."

The clinic has had three different directors since June, when Eileen Conlon Scott resigned. The board is aiming to hire her full-time replacement by Dec. 1.

Novotny has applied for the job, and he says he already has ideas for improvement. To start, he wants the clinic to develop its role in the ​community.

"I see that as sort of a deficit," he said. "We do a lot of great emergency medicine and urgent care, and we have a lot of great providers and nurses who are dedicated. But I do get a feeling from the community that we could do a better job at being here for everyone throughout the year."

Novotny said the clinic can work on making it faster and easier for patients to schedule appointments and visit the health center. He's also interested in expan​ding outreach through health fairs and home visits.