St. John’s Health Sage Living

Sage Living is on schedule to open in August. Construction is much further along than in this photo.

Despite the coronavirus pandemic interrupting pretty much every aspect of life, Sage Living is mostly on schedule.

The new skilled nursing and memory care facility at St. John’s Health is set for a mid-August opening, just a couple of months later than hospital administrators predicted when construction started.

“Building anything anywhere is impossible, and it usually just runs over by years,” Trustee Cynthia Hogan said at the hospital board’s May 25 meeting. “So kudos to everybody who has put time and effort into building Sage Living.”

Former hospital CEO Dr. Paul Beaupre told the board last year that he expected a mid-June opening, but the talk at St. John’s always had it at summer 2021. CEO Will Wagnon told the board in May that the building would be “substantially” completed by July 16.

After that, the hospital will apply for occupancy and licensure and furnish the place. That will be a “fast and furious” process, according to Wagnon, because the hospital wants to host a “homewarming” on Aug. 11, before residents move in.

An event that day set for 4 to 6 p.m. will give people a chance to tour the facility, which includes several “neighborhoods” of rooms and artwork by several regional artists.

In addition to finishing construction, the hospital is ramping up training for the in-house memory care facility, which will be a new service and part of the appeal of Sage Living for the hospital. It will mean patients with higher-level neurodegenerative conditions will have better options in Jackson.

To help bring staff up to speed, the hospital has brought in the Gilster Group, a company that trains health care providers in memory care.

The group will be “helping teams identify ways to understand what are the different types of brain change, what are the behaviors that would be attributed to that type of disease process,” Wagnon told the board. “And then what are techniques to be able to redirect folks in a healthy and very positive [way].”

The last staffing piece Wagnon mentioned is that Dr. Berit Amundson, a family medicine practitioner, has been appointed as the medical director for the memory care center. Once a week she will come in and check in with the staff and residents to provide assistance.

The Living Center, St. John’s existing nursing facility, has 43 residents who will be transferred over to Sage Living. In the next two months before the facility opens, St. John’s expect to add at least a few more residents.

A previous version of this article misstated the date of the "homewarming" event. It is Aug. 11. — Ed.

Contact Tom Hallberg at 732-7079 or

Tom Hallberg covers a little bit of everything, from skiing to long-form feature stories. A Teton Valley, Idaho, transplant by way of Portland and Bend, Oregon, he spends his time outside work writing fiction, splitboarding and climbing.

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