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At Unalaska's Clinic, Search For Stability Continues After 7 Months

Laura Kraegel

Unalaska’s clinic is still searching for steady leadership after its longtime executive director resigned this summer.

Since August, the board of directors for Iliuliuk Family and Health Services (IFHS) has appointed three interim directors: former board member Michelle Cochran, nurse practitioner James Novotny, and then Cochran once again.

“The big role for me right now is creating stability in the organization," said Cochran, who's been acting as director since early December. "Anytime a long-term leader leaves, there’s a bit of chaos and tumult that goes along with that.”

Cochran's initial appointment didn’t stick because of her travel schedule, but she got a second crack at the job when Novotny left in November. He had applied for the full-time director position and told KUCB about his long-term goals for improving the clinic, but he left after just eight months.  

Cochran declined to share the reason for Novotny’s departure, calling it a “confidential personnel matter.”

“He’s not affiliated with the clinic anymore," she said.

That means IFHS is still looking for a full-time replacement for former director Eileen Conlon Scott.

The board wanted to hire her successor by Dec. 1, but Cochran said juggling interim directors delayed that timeline. The clinic has since hired a recruitment company -- the Maryland-based Meyers Group -- to restart the nationwide search.

Meanwhile, Cochran said she’ll use her time as acting director to update the clinic’s strategic plan and address its difficult billing process.

“That is a giant priority on my list," she said. "To really dig down and investigate: Why is this an issue? What is broken and how do we fix it? So we can rebuild the community’s confidence that we know what we’re doing when it comes to billing.”

Cochran is under contract through early June, but she said she’s open to staying longer if the clinic can’t find a full-time director in the next six months.

Laura Kraegel reported for KUCB from 2016 until 2020. She was KUCB's news director starting in 2019. We are proud to have her back in the spring of 2023 filling in as an interim reporter for KUCB.
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