Girdwood Health Center: Adapting, Advancing, and Building Their Future
While the rest of the world continues to grapple with the omicron variant, Girdwood Health Clinic is looking towards the future. As kids were getting ready to return to school, Girdwood Health Clinic was finally breaking ground on their new facility. During the two-year strain of COVID, the Anchorage Municipality recognized the diligence of the Girdwood Health Clinic and granted five million dollars to build a new clinic.
As many board and executive members know, securing funds for any kind of remodel, let alone a build, can be an arduous and often unfruitful task. Many grants out there have long, complicated, and competitive grants that are difficult to complete. Other CHCs in Alaska are also working on grants to gain financial support to rebuild, remodel, or repair their facilities with their own struggles.
The Girdwood Health Clinic’s rebuilding and expansion teetered on the large sum of money from the Anchorage Municipality. After that money was secure, GHC raised another million dollars through fundraising. Once they secured six million dollars, charities like Rasmussen Foundation, Murdoch Charitable Trust, Weinberg Foundation, and the Mental Health Trust all took interest in the project and donated the additional resources needed to fund the building.
Turnagain Arm Health Center deeded property to GHC which allowed the groundwork to begin about six months ago. The building is happening in two phases. During the first phase, the main clinic is being built. This clinic is being modeled for a post-pandemic world. If a patient arrives with potentially contagious symptoms, they will be directed to a separate area away from the main lobby where patients of every age from new babies to seniors wait for preventative and follow-up care. No longer will Girdwood Health Clinic patients be directed to annexes based on their needs. The first phase is anticipated to be complete in June of this year.
During the second phase of their building, the current clinic will be demolished and rebuilt as a beautiful and functional administrative office to support the staff of GHC. There will be executive offices, conference rooms, rest and break rooms, and suites to support healthcare providers in Girdwood, AK. GHC is projecting this project will be finished in October 2022.
Everyone who works for or with CHCs know how much the CHCs carried our communities during the pandemic. They continued to offer general health care while also swabbing noses and administering vaccinations. Often times, when private clinics were unable to support the community, the CHCs were still there and ready to provide essential healthcare to all. Of course, functioning safely during COVID was difficult. Tawny Buck, executive director of Girdwood Health Clinic, absolutely attributes her new clinic as a product of the pandemic.
Because of the pandemic, the Anchorage Municipality recognized a need for more efficient healthcare facilities in Girdwood. The experience from the pandemic guided the design of GHC to be prepared for any public health emergencies. Further, legislators like Lisa Murkowski are thinking about CHCs and how they fit into the infrastructure of America.
Buck is so excited, as to be expected, for her new clinic! She told APCA that “It’s encouraging to know these funders are looking at Alaska.” She feels that it’s her responsibility to “do these guys proud so other health centers can do the same.”