Denali Commission gives $15K to Girdwood Clinic to pay for business plan
On the heels of receiving an appropriation of $400,000 from the Legislature in this year’s capital budget, which still awaits the signature of the governor, Girdwood Health Clinic Inc. (GHCI) has now received a grant of $15,000 from the Denali Commission to pay for a business plan with the assistance of the Foraker Group in Anchorage.
“The Foraker Group is a non-profit expert in Alaska and they have a lot of experience,” said Nancy Merriman, Senior Program Manager for the Denali Commission. “We will cover the cost, but the Foraker Group will work with the Girdwood Health Clinic non-profit. My understanding is just last week they have a draft business plan.”
A more detailed business plan was requested by the non-profit Turnagain Arm Health Center (TAHC) in order to proceed with a new building lease for the Girdwood Clinic. The board of TAHC was not comfortable with the initial business plan provided by GHCI, feeling it lacked proper information and depth to instill confidence that the newly formed non-profit could operate a full-time health care clinic and pay the monthly rent of $2,300.
“I’m sure they’re going to be getting a professionally written road map to insure that the business plan remains on track,” said TAHC president Michael Kessler. “This could finalize the lease agreement.”
GHCI initially approached TAHC to have the ownership of the building transferred to them, rather than have two non-profits involved. But TAHC board members want to retain the building to use the money for local projects for health care in the community.
“It’s pretty well known that most medical institutions keep the operation of the building separate from the tenant,” said Kessler, “leaving them in charge of health care. We are really encouraged to learn that this is taking place. We’re pretty excited for them (GHCI). They didn’t like the path we took to get here, but the result is they have a professionally written road map for their business plan…They put together a business plan to the best of their ability, but it wasn’t as robust as Turnagain Arm Health Center would have liked.”
TAHC originally purchased the old post office building in downtown Girdwood with the goal of making it a non-profit health care clinic to serve Girdwood and surrounding communities. The Denali Commission provided a $450,782 grant for TAHC to buy the building; however, the effort to establish a non-profit clinic failed by the initial TAHC board, which disbanded a year after purchasing the building, and a new board was formed in 2008. All the while the clinic was operated as a for-profit business under owner and nurse practitioner Kerry Dorius.
The GHCI board formed near the end of December with the goal of buying the existing business from Dorius and acquiring the building from TAHC. But the TAHC board remained steadfast that they retain ownership of the building.
“The scope of the grant was to purchase that building, and it was their (TAHC) responsibility,” said Merriman. “They have met that request. Both groups are very committed to maintaining a health clinic in Girdwood.”
Now with the two non-profits establishing their separate missions, it appears they are on track to work together to run a medical clinic in Girdwood for the long-term.
“We have a board meeting July 24,” said Kessler. “The building lease expires in August. The board hopes to be able to negotiate a new lease. At that time we hope they have something in front of us, so we can start the dialogue of the lease negotiation.”