Wildflower Court, which has been forced to scale back its long-term nursing care to about 75% of capacity due to staffing and other difficulties related to the COVID-19 pandemic, is being acquired by Bartlett Regional Hospital, officials at both facilities said Thursday. (Dana Zigmund / Juneau Empire file photo)

Wildflower Court, which has been forced to scale back its long-term nursing care to about 75% of capacity due to staffing and other difficulties related to the COVID-19 pandemic, is being acquired by Bartlett Regional Hospital, officials at both facilities said Thursday. (Dana Zigmund / Juneau Empire file photo)

Bartlett to acquire Wildflower Court

Long-term facility recently forced to reduce capacity; officials hope merger also helps hospice gap

Wildflower Court, which has been forced to reduce its long-term nursing care due to expenses and other problems related to the COVID-19 pandemic, has agreed to be acquired by Bartlett Regional Hospital, officials at both facilities said Thursday.

The acqusition should improve and allow more efficient senior care at Wildflower, plus provide a step toward fulfilling the gap in local hospice and home care after the existing facility closed in October, Bartlett CEO David Keith said.

“Merging the organizations gives them a more support for administration, for recruitment and for maintaining care,” he said. “It also helps throughput at the hospital, so it’s mutally beneficial.”

Leaders from both facilties are working on a specific timeline for the transition, according to Bartlett news release.

Wildflower approched Bartlett about a merger in November, but the issue has been a discussion at the long-term care facility in recent years due to the problems the pandemic has inflicted on the health care industry, including the difficulty of retaining staff and having to pay high costs of help from outside agencies, said Robert Rang, Wildflower’s interim administrator.

“We did have to close down wards,” he said. “We were probably only runnimng at 75% to 80% of capacity right now because of staffing issues.”

Wildfower is hoping to resume full staffing capacity by early next year as the impacts of the pandemic wane, but the merger will Bartlett will help improve services in numerous other ways, Rang said.

“We don’t have the buying power Bartlett has when it comes to buying supplies,” he said. In addition, Bartlett is better staffed with experts to deal with legal and compliance matters.

The long-term care facility has taken in hospice patients on a short-term respite basis when families or other caretakers need a break, but at present is not a full-fledged replacement for the gap that has existed since Catholic Community Service shut down its facility earlier this year, Rang said.

Bartlett’s news release states “the establishment of home health and hospice and will be further complemented by the integration of (Wildflower).”

Keith said he is hoping state officials will do their destination audit within four weeks for Bartlett’s application to provide hospice and home care services. While he said he doesn’t know if the rules for such facilities allow Wildflower to be a dedicated site for them, the acquisition will regardless boost the ability to provide such care as part of the larger overall scope of improved offerings.

• Contact Mark Sabbatini at mark.sabbatini@juneauempire.com

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