OPINION: Anchorage's chief medical officer deserves our thanks

As we embark on a new year, I find myself reflecting on the blessings we all share. I am thankful for the dedicated municipal employees who make up our great city. From the snow plowers who have worked nonstop to keep our streets safe to our transit bus drivers who will continue to get us to our desired destinations, we are appreciative of their talents and contributions in making Anchorage a great place to call home.

I am especially grateful for our chief medical officer, Dr. Michael Savitt, who has been a steadfast advocate for public health. As a board-certified pediatrician licensed in five states, including Alaska, Arizona, New Mexico, New Jersey and New York, his expertise in the medical profession is unquestionable. And, like so many of our public servants, Savitt works tirelessly on behalf of the residents of Anchorage.

On a typical day, Savitt, makes two to three rounds in the public clinic located on the first floor of the Health Department located at Ninth Avenue and I Street. A large part of his job is to oversee the clinical division where he manages all the services, overseeing policies and all the standing orders within the clinic. The workload at the clinic is hefty — he oversees childhood and adult immunizations, along with vaccines for shingles, pneumonia, tetanus, pertussis and others for our seniors. The clinic also provides COVID-19, flu and RSV vaccines by appointment and on a walk-in basis.

Clients at the public health clinic have seen more opportunities to access health services under Savitt’s leadership. While appointments are available on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, walk-in clinic hours have expanded to five days a week. But that’s not all. As the manager and medical officer of the clinical division, he oversees disease prevention, TB and outreach services to the community.

In the area of community outreach, Savitt has been instrumental in setting up a quarterly Health Fair at the Anchorage Senior Center. He plans to make it a re-occurring event, with the next health fair scheduled for January 23. He also has the Anchorage Health Department participating in the Diversity Awareness Health Fair sponsored by the Polynesian Association on Jan. 13, primarily for COVID-19 and flu shots, but will include all other clinical services offered by the Anchorage Health Department.

His vision for all outreach events is that the same services offered at the clinic are offered at the health fairs. This includes education about health at different ages. Outreaches are open to everyone in the Municipality. Please call the Anchorage Health Department if you are interested in scheduling an outreach event.

Savitt is also making lab services available within the clinic on the first floor of the Anchorage Health Department for WIC participants to screen for anemia and lead exposure in children nine months to 12 months of age. This is done by finger stick, avoiding a trip to an outside lab or hospital, making the visit more convenient.


His leadership also includes serving as a liaison from the Anchorage Health Department to the Anchorage Senior Activity Center. He arrived early for his first meeting at the Anchorage Senior Activity Center in Fairview and while there, administered life-saving CPR to an Anchorage resident. His dedication to Anchorage residents is unparalleled — when he learned the Alaska Regional Senior Center was closing, leaving approximately 4,000 Medicare-insured patients without a provider, he set up a Medicare task force, bringing together health care community partners in the Municipality to find and connect Medicare providers with Medicare patients. This was accomplished in three months.

Anchorage has been fortunate to have many dedicated professionals leading the charge to protect our community, and Savitt stands as one such dedicated public health servant. I want to personally thank our hard-working municipal employees and the contributions of our chief medical officer who serves our community with professionalism and humility.

Thank you, Dr. Savitt and your team at the Anchorage Health Department, for your service to the people of our city.

Dave Bronson, elected in 2021, is the mayor of Anchorage.

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