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Unalaska health clinic extends hours

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Laura Kraegel
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KUCB
The clinic is now open Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., and until 1 p.m. Saturdays. It’s still closed on Sundays, but staff is available for emergency services.

Iliuliuk Family and Health Services has extended its weekday closing hours to 9 p.m.

For years, the island’s largest healthcare provider has closed at 6 p.m., which limited service options for community members.

And while the new hours mean greater health coverage for Unalaskans, they are a far cry from what Co-Medical Director Dr. Murray Buttner says the island really needs: a hospital.

“This is the only community of this size in Alaska that doesn't have a hospital,” Buttner said. “In fact, there are several communities smaller than Unalaska that do have hospitals.”

Communities with a hospital are able to provide round-the-clock services, such as nurses who can respond to emergencies.

“We’re still not at that point,” Buttner said, but maintains the island is “heading in that direction.”

“This is the first step, and this is going to be something that is going to be really positive for the community,” he said.

For many, Unalaska is a working town. People work long, and often odd, hours due to the demanding nature of the fishing industry, which dominates the workforce.

Clinic CEO Noel Rea said that had made it difficult for patients to visit the clinic under its old operations hours.

“We recognize that people are often working until five and go to work before we're even open,” he said. “So this is the best way we can think of to make it easier for people to get care when it's convenient for them.”

The clinic is now open Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., and until 1 p.m. Saturdays. It’s still closed on Sundays, but staff is available for emergency services.

Theo Greenly reports from the Aleutians as a Report for America corps member. He got his start in public radio at KCRW in Santa Monica, California, and has produced radio stories and podcasts for stations around the country.
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