Peninsula Community Health Services of Alaska (PCHS) became a reality in October 2008 with the merger of two respected not-for-profit organizations in the Central Kenai Peninsula of Alaska. These two organizations, Central Peninsula Health Centers and Central Peninsula Counseling Services, now provide a comprehensive range of medical, dental and behavioral health services as Peninsula Community Health Services.
The story of how these two organizations merged into one exemplifies the joint vision, commitment, and spirit of collaboration on the part of both boards of directors and management teams, with the help of countless others, to better serve our clients.
Central Peninsula Health Centers (CPHC) was created as the result of community members identifying access to health care for the un- and under-insured as a critical issue for the Central Kenai Peninsula. In 2002, Cottonwood Health Center opened its doors to provide primary health care “regardless of ability to pay,” and one year later Aspen Dental Center opened.
Since 2002, CPHC has experienced rapid growth in both its medical and dental centers, serving clients of all ages and expanding its services to include limited behavioral health services in the primary care setting and selected services provided by Kenai Peninsula Public Health and community-based programs. At merger, these two centers, along with administrative staff, totaled more than 50 employees of the not-for-profit parent organization, Central Peninsula Health Centers.
Central Peninsula Counseling Services (CPCS) traces its roots to 1976 when the fledgling not-for-profit organization was formed to address a pressing need for counseling services in the Central Kenai Peninsula.
During its 30+ history, the organization grew to provide emergency, outpatient and community-based mental health treatment services for children, adolescents, adults and older adults. Programs included school-based and community-based adolescent services; outpatient rehabilitation services for adults; adult day program; psychiatric and nursing services; and 24-hour psychiatric emergency services.
At merger, more than 115 CPCS employees transferred into the new organization.
Over the course of four years, the boards of directors of CPHC and CPCS began a thoughtful and deliberate process of exploring how to best meet the needs of clients and insure the viability of both organizations in a financially challenged environment.
CPHC’s Cottonwood Health Center had outgrown its modest clinic site, while CPCS had services split between two cities resulting in fragmentation of staff and treatment planning and operational inefficiencies.
To address these issues, the CPHC board of directors, in partnership with CPCS, took on the challenge of constructing a 31,000 sq. ft. facility in Soldotna to house Cottonwood Health Center on the first floor and CPCS administrative and clinical staff on the second floor along with CPHC’s administration.
With generous funding support from the community, the Denali Commission, the Rasmuson Foundation, the State of Alaska Legislature, and other state and national foundations, the new Cottonwood Health Center building opened in November 2007 with both organizations providing services in their new “home.”
The co-location of CPHC and CPCS into one building was a critical step in the journey to merger. During construction, our boards and administrative teams began meeting jointly to address governance, administrative, operational and clinical issues to build a foundation for a merged organization. Following the completion of due diligence, acquiring approvals from specific state and federal entities, and the development of a new mission statement and core values, the boards voted to merge effective October 1, 2008 and become Peninsula Community Health Services of Alaska.
Our new not-for-profit organization has more than 170 employees located in Soldotna and Kenai and is committed to finding ways to more efficiently and effectively serve our clients.
We are proud of the vision and commitment of our boards, the flexibility and enthusiasm of our employees, and most of all, the positive feedback from our clients in helping make this dream a reality.