New patient housing facility to open doors next week

 New patient housing facility to open in January.
New patient housing facility to open in January. (KTUU)
Published: Dec. 28, 2016 at 4:14 PM AKST
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It's a $40 million patient housing facility that is also home to the state's first Ronald McDonald House.

The building next to the Alaska Native Medical Center is getting ready to open its doors to its first patients next week.

Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium said 60 percent of patients seen at ANMC come from rural communities.

LeeAnn Garrick, chief of staff at ANTHC, said the goal is to make the overall experience of coming to Anchorage, for medical care, easier for patients and their families.

"Our mantra was really a home away from home," Garrick said.

The facility has a full size commercial kitchen on the ground level, where patients can find healthy and traditional foods.

Just a few steps from the kitchen rests a large dining area that can seat up to 150 people.

"When folks are here for housing, we want to make sure they have enough places to sit down and have a great cup of coffee with their loved ones," Garrick said.

Next to the dining room sits a business center where patients can use e-mail or print photos of loved ones to keep close.

The facility also has two interactive play areas for children and their parents to play.

"The whole goal is they play. They don't just sit and use their thumbs, but you can jump around. You can dance. You can make all kinds of scenes," Garrick said.

An exercise room for parents is next to the play room on the first floor.

Garrick said an outdoor playground area will be completed in the spring.

Of the building's 202 rooms, 34 of them will be used specifically for the Ronald McDonald House on the sixth floor.

The floor is dedicated for expecting mothers with high risk pregnancies and their babies.

"We want them to have the best experience as possible, as they're moving into this new stage - adding a new family member to their family," Garrick said. "It is set up so that we can have family space [and] play room space. Moms can meet other moms."

Garrick said there will also be programs there, including child birth education, learning opportunities about healthy foods and an open area for new mothers to ask questions about parenting new infants.

The rooms on the sixth floor come in six different sizes, depending on the needs of the family.

Each room has its own bathroom, bed, pull out couch, storage space, microwave, refrigerator and freezer.

"We have a larger freezer, so if folks have a medication they need to take that has to be cold, or to freeze breast milk for nursing mothers," Garrick said.

ANTHC said the project created 65 jobs to construct the building. Plus, an additional 100 contracted jobs were created within the facility itself.

The building connects to ANMC by a sky bridge, which is designed to help bridge the gap between patient housing and access to medical care.

The facility's first patients to stay in the building will arrive on Jan. 2, and a grand opening will be held on Jan. 11.