St. John’s Medical Center has completed the purchase of a 5.79-acre land parcel in Alpine, WY to help address staff recruitment and retention challenges anticipated as housing becomes more difficult to find in Teton County. “Although it could take 3+ years for this project to come to fruition, I’m delighted that it will provide critically needed options for many of our current employees who face considerable difficulty finding and keeping stable, quality housing for themselves and their families,” said Cynthia Hogan, chair of the board of trustees.
“Many longtime employees of St. John’s own their homes in Teton County,” explained CEO Paul Beaupré, MD. “As we project our future staffing needs based on age and retirement, it is clear that the individuals who fill future open positions will be far less able to afford local housing due to escalating rent and home ownership costs. This project will greatly alleviate my concerns about being able to staff St. John’s for the next decade and beyond.”
The parcel purchased is located in Alpine Meadows, a community located 36 miles from Jackson on the north end of Alpine at the junction of WY 89 and 26. The parcel consists of five lots that have been approved by the Alpine Meadows Architectural Review Committee for multi-family housing.
Hospital administration will now begin work on planning for phased development of the parcel. The number, type, and timing of units constructed will be determined during this process. It is estimated that final build-out will accommodate approximately 80 housing units, depending on programming and size. This new inventory will supplement the 57 long-term and 8 on-call units currently represented in St. John’s Teton County housing inventory. In addition, St. John’s owns and maintains 14 units for patients and patient families.
As part of the new housing development plan, St. John’s will address transportation between the new Alpine neighborhood and Jackson. Staff will continue to work with START to enhance public transportation between Jackson and the commuter communities, including Alpine. “When we talk to our employees, we regularly hear that convenient reliable transportation makes out-of-county housing a much more appealing option,” said human resources director Thom Kinney. “This is definitely a ‘housing plus transportation’ value proposition.”
The purchase closed on February 1, 2019. Purchase price was $1.35 million, which includes a $250,000 credit toward water and sewer hookup fees. The purchase will be funded by St. John’s cash reserves and may be offset by the sale of other real estate owned by St. John’s.
“There are many reasons that recruiting and retaining health care employees and providers is challenging for hospitals across the country,” said Kinney. “In our community, housing rises to the top of this list. We are excited to begin planning on this project and provide some relief for this challenge.”
In addition to providing housing to address the needs of St. John’s Medical Center, Beaupré said that he is exploring interest with several community leaders to evaluate whether the project could benefit others facing similar challenges.