It’s no secret that the State of Alaska is looking to save money any way it can. One question legislators are asking is whether it would be cheaper for a private company to run the Alaska Psychiatric Institute (API), the state’s only public psychiatric hospital.

Randall Burns, the director of behavioral health for the Alaska Department of Health and Human Services, said a state-funded study is looking into the privatization issue. He said it’s an issue that’s come up before.

“Because API is expensive to run,” Burns said. “But it’s also responsible for an incredibly important and vulnerable part of our population and I think it’s really important that people think about this.”’

Burns said he doesn’t know if a private company could save money, but in any case, it shouldn’t come at the expense of patient care.

The contractor conducting the study would like to hear from the public if they have an opinion on the privatization issue. Burns said it’s a good opportunity for people who have experience with API to speak out.

“I think it would be really important for them to hear that the community really respects and needs and wants API or has problems with API that privatization might be able to fix,” Burns said.

The meeting is scheduled to take place this Thursday, Aug. 25 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in suite 890 at the Frontier Building, located at 3601 C Street.

KTVA 11’s Lauren Maxwell can be reached via email or on Twitter.