Heritage Place opens new addition

Posted: Monday, December 04, 2000

The Heritage Place nursing home in Soldotna cut the ribbon last week on a $600,000 12-bed addition.

That brings Heritage Place at 232 Rockwell Ave. to a total of 57 beds, administrator Dennis Murray told the Soldotna Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday. It now has 43 nursing home patients but has had as many as 48. Murray said he expects it will be three or four years before the nursing home is filled to capacity.

Heritage Place opened in 1986 with about 13 nursing home patients, he said. Now, in addition to running the nursing home, it provides home care to 110 central Kenai Peninsula clients, mainly the elderly and the disabled. That program is funded primarily through Medicaid.

"It's not skilled nursing. It's what we call personal care attendants. We use certified nursing assistants. Basically, it's personal care in the home," he said.

This fall, Heritage Place began accepting out-patients and now serves an average of three or four at a time.

"The out-patient program offers physical and occupational therapy focused on the elderly and handicapped. For example, if someone fractures a hip and needs therapy to strengthen," Murray said.

Now, he said, the city of Soldotna and Heritage Place have sent a proposal to the Alaska Housing Finance Corp. to build a 16-bed assisted living facility.

Heritage Place employs 98 people, some part-time and some full-time -- the equivalent of about 55 full-time positions in its nursing home and 15 full-time positions in its home care program. Heritage Place workers earn an average of $12.89 per hour.

The Heritage Place annual budget totals about $3.7 million, including $3.16 million for the nursing home and $600,000 for home care. Medicaid pays about 83 percent of the cost and Medicare pays about 10 percent. The rest comes from other sources.

Murray said Heritage Place nursing home rates, $192 per day, are the lowest in the state. The charge for long-term care at South Peninsula Hospital in Homer is $326 per day, he said. Nursing home care in Sitka, the most expensive in Alaska, costs $601 per day.

Heritage Place was operated by Lutheran Health Services, which merged last year with Phoenix-based Samaritan Health System to form the new operator, Banner Health System. Banner, with offices in Phoenix and Fargo, N.D., has 5,598 licensed beds in 14 states and employs 25,400 people. It has annual revenues of $1.8 billion and profits of $70 million.

Murray said Banner leases the Heritage Place building with an option to purchase.

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