FMH Pleads for CARES Money - Even Though There is Not Enough

Jun 19, 2020

Credit Robyne / KUAC

Representatives from the Fairbanks Memorial Hospital Foundation appealed for CARES money from the Borough Assembly at its meeting last night. And the Assembly changed an ordinance to add more money to reimburse health providers for pandemic expenses.


The borough will pass through most of $24,684,398 as grants to businesses and organizations for costs incurred or revenue losses suffered as a result of the COVID-19 public health emergency. The borough can keep a portion to pay for administering the grant money, but not for its own pandemic costs.

The ordinance allocates $10,000,000 for Business Interruption Grants, $7,000,000 for health providers and $500,000 for small Personal Protection Equipment grants.

The CEO of Foundation Health Partners, Shelly Ebenal, testified that COVID-19 cases are on the rise in Fairbanks.

“As you know, we are in round two of our COVID nightmare.  Hole gets deeper and darker.”

FHP runs Fairbanks Memorial Hospital, Tanana Valley Clinic and the Denali Center. Ebenal told the assembly the hospital will continue to serve the community regardless of costs and will continue to take losses. FHP has been denied some federal money designated for rural hospitals, because it was defined as serving a metropolitan area.

“What you’ve got is a drop in the bucket but we’ll take everything we can get.”

Other health providers are also eligible for the Health Care Impact Grant, even though the hospital’s losses could eat up the whole grant amount of $7 million.

Small businesses can apply for up to $15,000 if they meet certain requirements; fewer than 50 employees, spent more than 25% above their regular expenses, or lost more than a quarter of their revenue and only for the period of March through the end of May.

Assembly members Jimi Cash and Frank Tomazcewski tried to get more money moved into the small business pot, but the allotment of CARES money is too small. Cash says he’s counting more federal funding for the hospital.

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It’s not likely that the money will get out to businesses until August, while the administration hires an administrating company to process the applications.

The borough administration will hold aside about six million dollars to administer the grants, sanitize borough buildings and contribute to the school district’s pandemic losses.

The Assembly also discussed a pass-through of Federal Coronavirus Relief specifically designated for Alaska Regional Development Organizations (ARDOR). The borough got $88,000 and allocated it to the Fairbanks Economic Development Commission.