Soldotna elder care facility gets hit with COVID-19

A hospital parking lot
The Central Peninsula Hospital in Soldotna. (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% 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.


The facility’s staff and residents are being tested every few days. The most recent round came up yesterday with nine positives. Those tests were taken late last week.

None of the 16 residents who tested positive are hospitalized as of now, said Central Peninsula Hospital Director of External Affairs Bruce Richards.

Six Heritage Place staff members have also tested positive for the virus.

Nursing homes around the state have been linked to a disproportionate percentage of COVID-19-related deaths. Though 6% of cases nationally have been linked to nursing facilities, they’re associated with 38% of deaths, according to an Oct. 30 New York Times report.

The most recent surge in positive cases inside Heritage Place tracks with the timeline the virus has taken in other facilities around the state. Surges in cases have tended to follow a week after initial outbreaks.

The isolated staff at Heritage Place are among the 74 members across the hospital system who are currently unable to report to work because of exposure to the coronavirus. Short staffing is an ongoing problem at hospitals around the state as hospital staff are increasingly coming into contact with the virus.

Richards said around half of those Central Peninsula Hospital staff members will finish out their quarantines and be cleared to come back to work in the next three days.

Central Peninsula Hospital opened a surge space to handle an influx of patients this week. Located in the hospital’s former obstetrics space, it provides an additional nine beds on top of the hospital’s existing 49. 

The hospital is using the surge space primarily for patients with milder illnesses, while patients who are positive for COVID-19 are sent to the regular space. As of yesterday, all but one hospital bed in the surge space were filled. Some beds have opened on the regular floor.

Richards said the hospital has a surge plan in place and will activate different sections of the hospital as needed. He said the facility currently has a sufficient amount of PPE to handle the cases in its doors.