This is a photo of Wildflower Court on Monday. The independent nursing facility is now officially a part of Bartlett Regional Hospital after it was announced Monday the two entities finalized the acquisition. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)

This is a photo of Wildflower Court on Monday. The independent nursing facility is now officially a part of Bartlett Regional Hospital after it was announced Monday the two entities finalized the acquisition. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)

Bartlett Regional Hospital officially absorbs Wildflower Court

Officials say it will help narrow the gap in local hospice and home care

Wildflower Court — one of the last independent nursing facilities in the state — has now been officially absorbed into Bartlett Regional Hospital after the merger of the two entities was announced late last year.

Bartlett officials say the move is a step in the right direction toward narrowing the acute gap in local hospice and home care in the Southeast Alaska region.

“With Wildflower Court now fully part of Bartlett, we are a stronger and more unified health system that will strengthen Bartlett’s ability to provide seamless care to our patients and residents, their families, and communities,” said David Keith, Bartlett’s CEO, in a prepared statement.

The announcement of the acquisition by the municipally owned hospital came in December, with Wildflower Court administration citing staffing shortages and retention issues, along with an increase in operating costs and other problems disrupting its ability to offer adequate long-term nursing care.

Wildflower Court has been operating in Juneau since 1977, first known as St. Ann’s Care Center located downtown before transitioning to its current location on the hospital’s campus, which is conveniently attached to the hospital via a hallway.

“Our co-location and shared community values make this merger a perfect fit — I am excited for the next phase of the organization and am confident we will better serve the region together,” said Chris Urata, Wildflower Court’s board president in a prepared statement.

Since the spring of 2021, Wildflower Court has been operating at about 75% of its capacity despite the growing need in Juneau and the critical gap in regional service. In Juneau, it’s estimated that the population of residents age 75 and up is expected to grow by 37% by 2025 and another 36% by 2030, according to the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development.

Wildflower is licensed for 61 beds, but has only been able to operate 49-52 of them on average. Because of the gap in service, along with an increase in operating costs, it is expected Wildflower will lose about $1,700,000 this fiscal year, according to the overview.

According to Bartlett Chief Financial Officer Sam Muse, if the vacant beds can be filled again, it is estimated that added revenue could erase the deficit. As of Monday, the facility is still not operating at capacity and the search for staffing beyond the retained existing employees is ongoing, said Erin Hardin, director of community relations at the hospital.

According to Hardin, the City and Borough of Juneau Assembly previously approved Bartlett’s fiscal year 2024 budget, which included authorization for the acquisition of Wildflower Court assets and operations in the current fiscal year.

• Contact reporter Clarise Larson at clarise.larson@juneauempire.com or (651) 528-1807.

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