heritage place

Jenny Neyman/KDLL

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.”

Sabine Poux/KDLL

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.

Sabine Poux/KDLL

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.

Sabine Poux/KDLL


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.

Courtesy of Michele Vasquez

Alaska’s first steps into statehood were shaped by its inaugural legislative class, a group of senators and House representatives who set the young government on its course six decades ago.

One of those first legislators, James Fisher, played an equally prominent role in shaping the Kenai Peninsula. Jim died of COVID-19 last month at his home at Heritage Place in Soldotna. He was 93.

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.

Sabine Poux/KDLL

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.

Sabine Poux/KDLL

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.