Central Peninsula Hospital

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A 68-year-old man incarcerated at Wildwood Correctional Center died last week — the fifth COVID-19-related death at Central Peninsula Hospital this month.

The Department of Corrections said Monday the man, John Andrew, died Friday after being in custody for a decade. The department said Andrew’s was the ninth death in its custody this year.

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Over half of all beds at Central Peninsula Hospital are now occupied by COVID-19 patients and the hospital is almost a third overcapacity, said hospital spokesperson Bruce Richards.

Richards said Tuesday the strain pushed the hospital to cancel all in-patient elective surgeries for at least two days. CPH is holding some patients in the emergency room overnight for lack of space.

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Most mornings, a line of cars snakes from the front of Capstone Clinic in Kenai, past McDonalds, spilling out onto the residential Walker Lane.

Clinics like Capstone have been seeing a growing number of people coming in for COVID-19 tests as the Delta variant has tightened its grip on the state.

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Central Peninsula Hospital sends some of its worst trauma cases up to Anchorage.

The hospital is still sending some patients on a case-by-case basis, hospital spokesperson Bruce Richards said. But as Anchorage facilities are filling up, it’s getting harder to find beds.

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President Joe Biden announced Wednesday that nursing homes receiving Medicaid and Medicare payments must require all staff to be vaccinated against COVID-19 if they want to continue receiving those funds. 

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services are crafting the regulations, which could go into effect as soon as next month. 

That means staff at Heritage Place in Soldotna, operated by Central Peninsula Hospital, will be subject to the requirement, as the vast majority of the nursing home’s income is in the form of Medicaid payments.

“Ninety-four percent. It’s a big deal,” said Bruce Richards, director of external affairs for the hospital. 

Most of that 94 percent is Medicaid payments, will a small amount of Medicare. The remaining 6 percent is from private insurance and a small amount of self-pay.

Given that, Richards said they have to comply.

“I don’t think there’s another option,” he said. “We would have to close, obviously, if we don’t get paid by CMS for providing these services.”

Central Peninsula Hospital is celebrating a half century in business this year.

But for a long time, the hospital was just an idea — one spurred by the central peninsula’s growing population but stalled over intense community rivalries and funding drama.

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Outside the walls of Central Peninsula Hospital, in local parks, restaurants and bars, life is going on without masks or social distancing.

But the coronavirus spike inside the hospital shows the virus is hardly a thing of the past.

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The current surge in COVID-19 cases nationwide is powered in part by a more contagious strain of the virus. But health officials are recommending more of the same.

"Get vaccinated, wear a mask, stay away from large gatherings," said Kenai Public Health Nurse Tami Marsters. "Just the same that nobody wants to hear.”

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Heritage Place is closed to visitors again after several unvaccinated staff and residents tested positive for the coronavirus.

Residents at the hospital-owned elder care facility suffered through a COVID-19 outbreak last fall that infected nearly all residents and killed four.

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Vaccinated residents of Heritage Place had just started reuniting with their families in person last week, some for the first time in a year.

That was until yesterday. A vaccinated staff member tested positive for COVID-19 and the hospital-owned eldercare facility has put visits on pause until it can test all its residents.

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The state’s disaster declaration has expired and officials are still scratching their heads over what that means, exactly. 

One effect is that Central Peninsula Hospital no longer has the authority to have a surge space of extra beds. The hospital is licensed for 49 beds but during the peak of the pandemics was sometimes filling 62, said hospital CEO Rick Davis at last night’s Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly meeting. 

But, he said, that’s OK.

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There has not been a new positive COVID-19 case reported at Heritage Place for two weeks. That means starting today, residents can leave their rooms for the first time in over two months. 

The long-term care facility, operated by Central Peninsula Hospital, had its first outbreak of COVID-19 in late October, after three staff members tested positive.

In the weeks following, the virus touched 40 of the facility’s nearly 50 residents. Four residents died.

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If it weren't for the Anchorage Messenger Service decal on the hood, you wouldn’t guess the Toyota Sienna minivan in front of Central Peninsula Hospital was carrying hundreds of doses of coronavirus vaccine.

The delivery of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine arrived in Soldotna a little after 3 p.m. Wednesday, a day earlier than expected. Shipments reached many corners of Alaska today, from Kotzebue to Wrangell

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The first batch of coronavirus vaccine will arrive via van at Central Peninsula Hospital this Thursday.

Representatives from the hospital and Soldotna Professional Pharmacy confirmed last week they were getting doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine soon. But with FDA authorization of the vaccine still pending, there were some details to iron out.

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If all goes according to plan, Chris Beaudoin will get the first of his two COVID-19 vaccine doses next week. As a hospitalist at Central Peninsula Hospital who sees multiple coronavirus patients each day, he’s part of the batch of healthcare workers and eldercare residents who will get inoculated in the first phase of vaccine distribution.

“For me, it means that there’s light at the end of the tunnel," he said. "For us as workers in the hospital, it means that we’re less likely to contract the disease and pass it on to other patients.”

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The Soldotna City Council decided at Wednesday’s meeting not to hold a vote on a potential mask mandate, quashing the ordinance before it could reach a public hearing.

But dozens of Soldotna residents weighed in on the virus anyway during the comment period for another resolution, which established a citywide COVID-19 education campaign under the city manager. It passed unanimously at the meeting.

That resolution didn’t sit well with many attendees.

Central Peninsula Hospital

Another coronavirus patient at Central Peninsula Hospital died yesterday, bringing the total COVID-19 deaths at the hospital to three since Nov. 12.

One of those deaths was a resident of Heritage Place, the nursing facility that had an outbreak earlier this month. Hospital spokesman Bruce Richards says there are currently 17 active coronavirus cases at Heritage Place.

Eight Kenai Peninsula Borough residents have died due to COVID-19. Statewide, 115 Alaska residents have died. The state recorded its highest number of deaths in one day today, at 13.

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Sixteen residents have tested positive for the coronavirus at Heritage Place, the eldercare facility operated by Central Peninsula Hospital. That’s over 30 percent of the facility’s 52 residents.

Meanwhile, the hospital is working with a diminished number of staff members and opening up surge spaces to accommodate the influx in cases coming through its doors.

Heritage Place reported its first cases of COVID-19 in late October, when three staff members tested positive for the virus. On Nov. 8, three residents and an additional staff member also received positive results.

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Three residents and one staff member at Heritage Place Skilled Nursing facility in Soldotna tested positive for the coronavirus. 

The hospital began testing residents every three days late last month when three staff members tested positive for the virus, between Oct. 26 and 30.

This is the first outbreak the facility has seen since those initial positive results. The residents who received positive results were tested Friday and got their results Sunday, said Bruce Richards, the hospital’s director of external affairs.

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Like every good voter, David Martin had a plan. The Soldotna resident was going to vote in person today, like he does every election.

Then, on Monday, he was admitted to Central Peninsula Hospital for an unexpected new development to an existing medical problem. 

“As soon as I came in here and they said they were going to be keeping me for a few days, I was really worried," he said. "I was actually pretty upset. I didn’t know if I was going to be able to vote.”

But he did, this afternoon.

Central Peninsula Hospital

 A visiting urogynecologist is in town this week to help women who are dealing with pelvic floor disorders. Dr. Michael Carley is based out of Dallas, Texas, but spends a week at Central Peninsula Hospital every three months to see patients for a variety of related conditions.

“I’m a urogynecologist, so the main conditions I treat are conditions in women that include what we call ‘pelvic floor disorders,’ or pelvic floor defects,” Carley said. “So the main problems I treat are urinary incontinence, where women lose urine. I also treat problems with pelvic organ prolapse. I also do treat fecal incontinence.”

Urogynecology is a subspecialty of gynecology that isn’t all that common locally. Alaska has two board-certified urogynecologists, both based at Providence Medical Center in Anchorage. 

Central Peninsula Hospital

Alaska’s coronavirus rates are surging.

The Alaska daily total for new resident cases yesterday was 142, one of the highest since March, and the state’s 14-day average has been peaking, per data from the state Department of Health and Social Services. The week of Sept. 27 to Oct. 4, the state saw six reported deaths from COVID-19. Anchorage and Fairbanks currently have the highest number of cases.

Central Peninsula Hospital

Though most of the attention around health care is focused on the coronavirus pandemic right now, Central Peninsula Hospital also recently finished a project to expand its services in Soldotna.

This winter, the project to remodel the hospital and stand up a new catheterization lab, childbirth facility, and to rearrange part of the hospital for more room and security was finished. It cost about $32 million, with about $27 million of that coming from Kenai Peninsula Borough bonds. The construction was started about two years ago as part of the hospital’s long-term service expansion plan, and it opened just in time to have the hospital lock down under the COVID-19 mandates.


The only surefire way to know if you have COVID-19 is through a test. But if you are coughing, sneezing, and have a fever, some of the most common symptoms of the disease, it may not be as easy as walking up and asking for a test, and like a lot of things in healthcare, it may not be clear what it costs.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy announced Heath Mandate 15, loosening restrictions on nonemergency health procedures Wednesday. The new mandate will be rolled out in two phases. Starting April 20, health care facilities can resume services that require minimal protective equipment and safety protocols for prescreening, such as physicals, routine exams and minimal procedures. 

Starting May 4, health care providers can perform non-urgent or elective procedures, with defined safety protocols for patients and staff, including biopsies and angiograms. 

Bruce Richards, director of external affairs at Central Peninsula Hospital, said the new mandate will go through the hospital’s surgery committee before deciding on the hospital’s course of action.

“They would go back to that committee and run that through everybody there and make that everybody was in agreement on what they understood and if there’s any guidance that comes went with it,” Richards said.

Central Peninsula Hospital is continuing preparations in case the worst occurs with the coronavirus pandemic and the hospital is inundated with cases of COVID-19.

Bruce Richards, CPH external affairs director, joined the Kenai Peninsula Office of Emergency Management nightly update Tuesday. He said the hospital continues to be closed to the public and visitors in all but a few exceptions. All nonemergency procedures are still canceled. Staff at the hospital have to maintain social distancing as much as possible and take additional steps like changing clothes and shoes when they get to work and when they leave.

The hospital currently has five ventilators and the possibility of converting other equipment if need be and is trying to build up supplies of masks, gloves and other personal protective equipment.

Central Peninsula Hospital is implementing additional restrictions starting Friday at 5 a.m. to reduce impacts of the spread of the COVID-19 virus if and when it comes to the Kenai-Soldotna area.

On Tuesday, the hospital limited all nonessential access. The cafeteria and gift shop are closed. Volunteers are asked to stay home, cardiac and pulmonary rehab services are curtailed and community classes, programs and the spring health fair are canceled. Unless you have an appointment at a specific hospital clinic or need emergency room services, the public is asked not to come to the hospital. And the state announced today a new mandate that all non-emergency surgeries and dental procedures be postponed for three months.

Starting Friday, health screening will be required of anyone coming to the hospital. Screening stations will be open at the main entrance from 5 a.m. to 5 p.m., the River Tower front entrance from 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and the emergency department entrance 24 hours a day.

Host Jenny Neyman spoke with Karen Scoggins, chief nursing officer at Central Peninsula Hospital, about expansion of CPH's facility and services. We also hear from the Kenaitze Indian Tribe about suicide alertness and prevention training offered for the community later this month.


Work continues apace on an expansion project at Central Peninsula Hospital in Soldotna updating the obstetrics wing and adding a catheterization lab. Planning began on the project more than two years ago.



Kenai Conversation: All about the CPH Auxiliary

Nov 21, 2018

The Central Peninsula Hospital Auxiliary has served the community since 1967, four years before the hospital even existed. On this week's Kenai Conversation host Jay Barrett welcomes Sue Sanders, Susie Smalley and Barb Dilley to the studio to discuss the wide variety of tasks the volunteers perform.