Rainforest Recover Center aims to reopen by the end of July

A cot inside of the Rainforest Recovery Center on April 7, 2020 in Juneau. City officials converted the drug and alcohol rehabilitation center into an emergency spillover shelter for COVID-19 patients at Bartlett Regional Hospital. They’re now hoping to reopen it as a rehabilitation center by the end of July. (Photo by Rashah McChesney/KTOO)

The substance abuse treatment center at Bartlett Regional Hospital that closed last spring may reopen by the end of July.

Rainforest Recovery Center closed for inpatient care in March due to COVID-19 health concerns, sending 11 patients home or to other facilities. The facility typically houses up to 12 people at a time.

Since then, staff have started offering outpatient treatment through telehealth services. That program will continue even after the facility opens its doors again.

“In an effort to make sure our patients are safe while they’re receiving treatment, we’re probably going to start out with single occupancy, which at this point means instead of 12 patients coming in, we will have up to eight when we reopen to start with,” said Bradley Grigg, chief behavioral health officer for Bartlett.

He said they’re working through the details and safety plans with the hope to be back open by late July or early August.

When the facility closed, it was turned into an alternative care site for the hospital in case it needed overflow space for COVID-19 patients.

That never happened. The city has since set up a quarantine and isolation site at Centennial Hall. But Grigg said the hospital is prepared for a worst-case scenario.

“We are very mindful of the fact that we may have to pivot and return it as an alternative care site again, like we did in March,” Grigg said. “So we’re keeping all of the equipment that we had in that site at close hand to where if we have to turn, pivot and stand that up again, we’re going to be prepared to.”

The facility has also been undergoing construction for a new detox clinic that they hope to open at the same time they reopen for inpatient care.

In the past, Rainforest treated patients from across the state. Grigg said for now they’ll use a phased approach to focus on local clients for the first month or two, gradually accepting patients from other parts of the region and eventually the state.

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