History & Service
Serving Southcentral and Interior Alaska
Cross Road Health Ministries, Inc. currently provides services at three road-accessible clinics.
In the upper part of the Copper River Valley, in Southcentral Alaska, weekday outpatient and 24×7 urgent care services are provided at our main clinic, Cross Road Medical Center, in the town of Glennallen. Weekday outpatient services are also offered two days per week at North Country Clinic, a small cabin at Grizzly Lake.
Like most outpatient clinics, weekdays are usually filled with the general problems familiar to any family practice clinic. We see patients in all age groups, newborn to geriatric, with acute and chronic health needs. We also provide preventive health screening and education. For advanced care, patients are referred to specialists and specialty clinics in the nearest cities, usually several road hours away. Often interspersed with this are emergency and critical situations. Patients with cardiac, trauma, medical, obstetric and other emergencies are stabilized and then transported by medevac to hospitals located in major cities.
The resident population in rural Alaska is sparse and widely dispersed. Long driving distances combined with inclement weather and challenging road conditions during the long, cold winters and sometimes limited access to reliable personal transportation at any time of the year can present barriers to patients wishing to access healthcare.
A Brief History of Cross Road Health Ministries
We will not conceal them from their children, but tell to the generation to come the praises of the Lord, And His Strength and His wondrous works that He has done. Psalm 78:4 NAS
Cross Road Medical Center began as Faith Hospital in 1956 as the medical ministry of Central Alaskan Mission (CAM). CAM was founded in 1936 and in 1937 CAM’s first missionaries, Rev. Vincent Joy and his wife Becky, arrived in the Copper River Basin to implement the mission’s church planting work with a ministry focus on reaching rural inhabitants, both “whites and natives”. [ref]
In the early years of his work in the Copper River Basin, Rev. Joy was regularly called upon to give medical care since the nearest doctor was 120 miles away over a rugged mountain trail. He felt keenly his lack of training and equipment and Rev. Joy urged his supporting friends and churches to join him in prayer for a doctor to assist. In 1950 these prayers were answered as the first doctor–Dr. Chet Schneider–arrived. A second doctor–Dr. Jim Pinneo–joined the staff in 1954. Faith Hospital in Glennallen became a reality in 1956 as the medical care moved from a small, improvised cabin to a modest but adequate hospital building.
A clinic section was added in 1968 to better serve burgeoning outpatient needs. A caption that accompanied a photo depicting Faith Hospital in a c.1967 newspaper read: “The four-bed Faith Hospital in Glenallen [sic], Alaska is now being revised and soon will have double the present bed capacity. This little structure accommodated 8,000 out-patient visits in 1967.”
In 1971, Central Alaska Mission merged with Far Eastern Gospel Crusade (FEGC) to become one of its divisions. Faith Hospital along with the radio station and the Bible college in Glennallen started by Rev. Joy were included in the merger. [ref]
In 1981 FEGC adopted SEND International as its official name [ref] and Faith Hospital became the medical ministry arm of SEND’s mission field in Alaska, now known as SEND North. Major construction at Faith Hospital continued in the 1980’s and a new clinic wing was put into service in June 1984. This expansion added examination rooms, a large trauma / emergency room, a larger laboratory and pharmacy, and improved office facilities. In the 1980’s Faith Hospital was voluntarily deregulated as a hospital due to the pressure of increasingly costly regulatory requirements. On July 1, 1988 the organization was incorporated as a not-for-profit Christian corporation governed under the direction of of its own Board of Directors, apart from SEND, and renamed Cross Road Medical Center. On January 10, 1989 CRMC was granted 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization status.
Further renovations and remodeling were done in the 1990’s.
North Country Clinic, on the shores of Grizzly Lake opened in 2002 to serve the needs of patients living on the Tok Cut-off. On August 26, 2003 Cross Road Medical Center was awarded a multi-year, renewable federal grant to extend services to low-income and uninsured patients, becoming a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) in the process. This designation also allowed for the implementation of the federal 340B Drug Pricing program, which provides lower medication costs to low-income patients. Extensive foundation repairs were made in 2009 to mitigate the effects of decades of permafrost and earthquake damage.
In 2011 SEND North moved their administrative office out of Glennallen. As a result, CRMC acquired a small office building from SEND to accommodate its administrative staff and bodywork therapy service. CRMC also began the process of taking over the management of land adjacent to the CRMC clinic that was originally deeded to SEND by the state. In the summer of 2012 CRMC applied for a New Access Point grant to expand services to the City of Delta Junction, approximately 150 miles north of Glennallen, at the request of representatives from the Delta Junction-based Interior Alaska Hospital Foundation. The grant for a new clinic was awarded to CRMC on November 8, 2013. The grand opening of the Interior Alaska Medical Clinic was March 1, 2014. In March 2015 Cross Road Medical Center’s Glennallen clinic was awarded recognition by the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) PCMH Recognition Program as a Patient-Centered Medical Home™. In the summer of 2016 the Board moved to change the corporate name to Cross Road Health Ministries, Inc. Interior Alaska Pharmacy–located within Interior Alaska Medical Clinic in Delta Junction–officially opened to the public on March 13, 2017.
Copper River Valley
The Copper River Valley is located in the Valdez-Cordova Census District in the Southcentral Region of Alaska. As already mentioned, the geography and climate of the region can present challenges to accessing health care, particularly in winter. Weather conditions, rough terrain and long distances create a unique physical environment in which to practice medicine, and a challenging environment for patients to access services. Winter temperatures can dip to -50°F and below with summers a moderate 60-80°F. The dark winters of just a few hours of daylight are offset by the long summer days of continuous daylight. The Copper River Valley is truly beautiful both in winter and summer with its many rugged mountain ranges.
The CRMC service area consists of nineteen small communities and surrounding regions widely dispersed throughout the upper Copper River Valley with a combined population of approximately 2680 (2016 AK DoL population estimates). This service area stretches from Paxon in the north, to Mentasta Lake and Slana in the north east, to Tonsina, Chitina and McCarthy in the south, and Mendeltna and Nelchina to the west. In summer there are many visitors, mostly traveling through, and an influx of seasonal workers. Approximately one-fourth of the area population is Ahtna Athabascan Indians. In 2015, 21.8% of the patients served at Cross Road Medical Center reported their ethnicity as American Indian or Alaska Native.
NCC serves approximately sixty Tok Cut-off residents annually.
The City of Delta Junction is located in the Southeast Fairbanks Census Area. The Delta Junction climate is similar to that of the Copper River Valley with cold winters and short, warm summers. Delta Junction is also known for frequent, strong southerly winds blowing up the Delta River valley. Patients face the same logistical challenges accessing healthcare as patients in the Copper River Basin.
The IAMC service area consists of seven communities and surrounding regions adjacent to Delta Junction with a combined population of approximately 4460 (2015 AK DoL population estimates). This service area stretches from Big Delta in the north to Fort Greely in the south and Dot Lake Village in the south east.