The Seward Phoenix Log - News of the Eastern Kenai Peninsula since 1966

By Tommy Wells
Seward Phoenix LOG 

Mountain Haven may look into changes


\Seward Mountain Haven may be dealing with low census numbers, but that doesn’t mean the elder care facility isn’t looking for ways to increase those numbers. In fact, Providence Seward Medical & Care Center Administrator Joseph Fong told members of the Seward City Council on Monday, officials are looking at several avenues to help boost numbers.

“At the end of the day, we still have empty beds to fill,” he said. “What we’ve learned is that we need to continue and change and evolve, and look at potential new services we can provide as a way to bring more elders to Mountain Haven.”

That evolution could mean the transition of the 40-bed long-term-care center into a short-term rehabilitation and/or an assisted living facility.

“We’re looking at the best option we can present to the city,” he said.

The City of Seward owns Mountain Haven and the hospital, but has contracted operation of the facilities to Providence.

According to Fong, Mountain Haven’s population peaked at 38 in 2012. Since then, the census has slowly declined for various reasons, including the deaths of some residents and the transfer of others to facilities closer to their homes.

Fong said Mountain Haven has been actively recruiting elders from throughout the state since January 2016. To that end, the facility almost tripled its referrals and enrolled approximately 20 new residents over the past 17 months.

“From that perspective we were successful. Unfortunately, during that time we have seen some of them pass and have seen others transfer because they want to get closer to home.”

Fong said it wasn’t unusual for residents to transfer to other facilities when spots open nearer their homes, noting that several elders who had been at Mountain Haven in Seward elected to return to the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta when the Bethel facility opened.

The possible opening of two new long-term facilities in the Mat-Su Valley could add to the transfer totals, he noted.

“We have looked at options, including changing our licensing,” said Fong, noting that Mountain Haven had recently become certified through the Alzheimer’s organization as a Memory Care provider. “As we look further ahead, knowing there are potentially two new nursing homes opening in the valley, our ability to attract elders from across the state will become more difficult.”

Any decision on the change in the facility’s license would have to be determined quickly in order to have it submitted to the state by August.

Seward Vice-Mayor Marianna Keil echoed Fong’s request to visit soon with members of the city council.

“It should be a major concern for all of us,” she said.

Fong indicated he would meet with council members in a special work session in mid-July to discuss any potential changes.


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