On track for September completion
By Scott Bellile
St. Joseph Residence gave community members a sneak peek of what’s to come this fall when the licensed skilled nursing facility completes its expansion project.
On Saturday, March 3, visitors previewed what is finished so far in the new building located on the campus’s east side. Areas on display included the post-acute rehabilitation unit, transitional care rehabilitation unit, therapy gym and dining room.
Appleton planning and architecture firm Community Living Solutions broke ground on the St. Joseph facility updates last May. The whole project, including the unfinished memory care unit that was not exhibited Saturday, is on track to be done in September, according to Laurie Shaw, director of administrative services.
“This is just to give people a sneak at what’s happening,” Shaw said. “We will be opening the unit for residents ASAP and we want people to be able to see things before it’s fully in use.”
The four-hour event drew a curious crowd. Volunteer Rita Thiel greeted visitors at the new east entrance and said 85 people drifted in during the first hour.
St. Joseph Executive Director Gidget Blank led group tours and highlighted various areas and amenities that will be provided to residents, including:
• Twenty-bed rehabilitation unit: Divided into two sections, Director of Nursing Heather Ott said the rehabilitation area will serve 10 post-acute rehab patients (those who are closely monitored after a surgery or injury) and 10 transitional care rehab patients (those who have less urgent medical needs but still need help). Staff will be trained to recognize subtle changes in the patients’ conditions in an effort to reduce re-hospitalizations. Everyone will now have private rooms with their own restrooms and showers.
• Therapy gym: Inpatients will receive physical, occupational and speech therapy here to help them prepare to return home. There is also a therapy apartment, which is set up to test like a mini residence to patients on their ability to complete at-home tasks such as cooking, doing the laundry and getting in the bathtub. Therapy will be offered seven days a week through RehabCare.
• Living and dining room area: The living room area for long-term residents will offer space to play games and puzzles, use the internet or visit with families. In the adjoining dining room, residents will be able to order meals of their choice any time of the day.
• Clinical team’s offices located closer to residents: “One of the goals was to cut the steps down for the staff, make their job easier,” Blank said.
• Four seasons room: “A lot of the residents love the sunshine but don’t necessarily want to go outside,” Blank explained. This sunroom will keep users comfortable with air conditioning, heating or a refreshing outdoor breeze depending on the conditions that day.
The renovation project will not increase the number of residents St. Joseph serves, but rather reorganize where they are served. The number of beds offered will actually decrease by two to 74, but nearly all residents will now have private rooms.
When St. Joseph’s project is complete, the senior living community seeks help in decorating the facility’s walls. Now through May 18, St. Joseph Residence is accepting entries for its community photography contest.
Submissions must capture the beauty or culture of New London or its surrounding communities. Contact Shaw at email@example.com to receive rules or to submit a picture.