Air base to build home for patients' families

Officials on Elmendorf Air Force Base are holding a ground-breaking ceremony this morning for The Fisher House of Alaska, a place to temporarily house families of patients receiving medical care at military or Veterans Affairs facilities.

The Fisher House model is similar to a Ronald McDonald house for families of sick children.

The one being built on base, just inside the Muldoon gate, will be the first in Alaska. It is being supported by a private organization, The Fisher House Foundation of Rockville, Md., a private group that pays for construction of such houses around the country. The ceremony is at 10 a.m.

The Alaska house will be 16,000 square feet and feature 21 family living suites, plus a common living room, dining room, kitchen and laundry, according to the program for the event. It should open in about 18 months.

The program was started by Zachary Fisher, a real estate developer who learned of military family members forced to sleep in their cars because they couldn't afford a hotel near hospitalized loved ones, according to a story on a U.S. Air Force Web site.

The Fisher House of Alaska will serve all branches of the military, retirees, veterans and families.

Also on Saturday, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is celebrating the opening of its new outpatient clinic and office with a ribbon cutting at 11 a.m. The new facility is 184,000 square feet just outside the Muldoon gate to Elmendorf, next to the Fisher House site. It's connected to the hospital on base through a secure, enclosed link.

Tours of the new clinic will follow, from noon to 4 p.m.

The new clinic opened for patients Monday. It is offering expanded services including rehabilitation, ophthalmology, increased primary care, mental health care and home-based care. There's a cafeteria and a Starbucks inside. People Mover Route 75 will stop there.

Anchorage Daily News