Juneau’s population of older adults is growing and with it so is the need for more long-term nursing care.
It’s estimated that the city’s 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.
A recent agreement to join forces between Bartlett Regional Hospital and the long-term care facility, Wildflower Court, could help ease the increasing demand and provide a step toward fulfilling the gap in local hospice and home care, Bartlett officials said Tuesday.
During the City and Borough of Juneau Assembly Committee of the Whole meeting Tuesday night, members unanimously voted in support of a resolution supporting the municipal-owned hospital’s proposed acquisition of Wildflower after discussing the move with the hospital’s CEO David Keith and chief financial officer Sam Muse.
The vote comes two months after the merger agreement between the two entities was announced in early December. Wildflower administration cited staffing shortages and retention issues along with an increase in operating costs and other problems related to the COVID-19 pandemic as reasons behind the decision.
According to the overview of the merger provided by the hospital, since the spring of 2021, Wildflower, which is conveniently attached to the hospital via hallway, has only been able to operate 49 out of its 61 available beds for residents and currently, it is expected to lose about $1,700,000 this fiscal year. However, during the meeting, Muse said if the vacant beds were able to be filled again, it is estimated that added revenue would be able to erase the deficit.
Bartlett is seeking a financial contribution of nearly $1.5 million from the Assembly to help facilitate the merger by using the funds to extinguish Wildflower’s outstanding paid time-off and bond liabilities prior to the merger. Assembly members expressed mixed feelings regarding the financial ask, though no action was taken on that matter, and the transition plan is still under development.
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