The Kodiak Island Borough Assembly is preparing to review an architectural and engineering agreement within the next month and both houses of the Alaska Legislature have passed a capital allocation of $1.275 million for planning and design of the facility.
The state capital funding, along with grants from the borough and other sources, should carry the project through the total planning stages, said Don Rush, CEO of Providence Kodiak Island Medical Center.
“I know in the past we were really worried about how we were going to come up with this (funding),” Rush said in a presentation to the assembly Thursday. “We’ll all keep our fingers crossed that this makes it to the governor’s desk and that he signs this and doesn’t veto it.”
Administrator for long-term care Judy Fine said the vision for the new care facility was to structure it much more like a home for the residents, rather than the medical model that is now in place.
She said the structure would be centered around dignity, privacy, security and autonomy for residents to make decisions as far as they are able.
The current plan is for two 12-bedroom structures connected by a central area between the living quarters for staff and services. The structure would be located away from the hospital.
Fine showed the assembly a care facility built to similar specifications she visited in Montana. Fine has been touring and working in care facilities in Montana, Florida and Alaska to measure the strengths and weaknesses of each system and bring back the lessons learned for Kodiak’s care facility.
She said the layout allows employees to quickly and easily perform their jobs.
“In cases of emergency, a duplex model really allows for staff to quickly get to the emergency and get it stabilized, get it handled,” Fine said.
Rush also demonstrated to the assembly how the facility could be built, without requiring additional money from the borough, through Medicare payments for operating costs and debt services on the construction.
He estimated the cost of the long-term care facility at approximately $16 million.
“I know that there is concern that this doesn’t place additional tax burden on the community,” Rush said.
The deficiencies of the current long-term care facility at the Providence medical center stem from the fact that the space was originally used to serve other purposes. In the 1970s it was used as transitional care for acute patients who might be discharged from the hospital but needed a place to stay if they couldn’t travel immediately back to their home, for example, to a village site.
Over time the use evolved to house other patients and then long-term care residents, Rush said.
Most of the rooms at the care center are double-occupancy, so they are only semiprivate and have minimal room for personal furniture and items.
The bathroom facilities are also lacking, as they have to serve four residents and are not handicapped-accessible.
Also the long hallways of the facility don’t work as well for Alzheimer’s patients who can get disoriented. Fine showed the assembly examples of common living areas that allow Alzheimer patents to walk in a circle.
Despite these obstacles, Rush said, patients have historically received great care in the hospital’s care center
“We have achieved excellent survey results and award-winning recognition several years in a row regarding the quality of care that we provide in our care center,” Rush said. “So we take very good care of our elders.”
Mirror writer Wes Hanna can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.