St. Croix County Health Center remodel completed
Last November, the St. Croix County Health Center unveiled a new construction, 50-bed skilled nursing facility, the first of a more than $20 million, three-phase new construction and remodel program which began in 2015.
In July 2017, eight months later, phases two and three, a remodeled 40-bed assisted living facility called Orchard View Terrace, and a 10-bed dementia crisis unit named the Kitty Rhoades Memorial Memory Care Center, both began accepting resident applications.
A new $300,000 therapy pool, made possible by a grant from the Andersen Foundation, is also open to provide residents with a variety of aquatic therapies.
From the outside, Orchard View Terrace retains the character of the original building, but inside it embraces the contemporary and inviting design and feel of the neighboring new skilled nursing facility. Gone are the institutional color schemes, painted cinder blocks, lighting and tile floors, replaced with an airy pastel palette, warm durable carpeted flooring, upscale communal kitchens, family dining rooms, and comfortably appointed lounges with fireplaces and art work.
An elegant circle drive deposits visitors at a covered entryway providing a separate entrance to the remodeled facility. An electronic security system connects to an audio and visual keypad in each resident's room insuring they can monitor who they let into the building.
The 40 beds are divided between two floors each with four 1-bedroom units and 16 studios.
One-bedroom units were designed with couples in mind featuring a large room with kitchen and living areas, separate bedroom and bathroom. Studios have a single room acting as both living area and bedroom with a separate bathroom. Units are provided with a wardrobe, dresser, bed, over bed table, microwave and mini refrigerator. Ten of the units have been designated for short-term rehabilitation residents.
"Rehab is an important part of the county mission. People come in, rehab and they go home. Then we bring someone else in and they rehab and go home. We have 10 beds set up for the rehab area where we built in furniture and added a television so when people come in they don't have to worry about bringing their own TV and so forth. It's more of an outpatient experience. The other rooms are set up for more long-term care. If they want to bring in their own furniture, dresser or chair they can," explained Heath Center Administrator Sandy Hackenmueller.
The remaining floor is the 10-bed Kitty Rhoades Memorial Memory Care Center intended as a dementia care crisis unit.
"Kitty Rhoades was integral in working to move Wisconsin forward in the realm of dementia care.
All of the rooms in our Kitty Rhoades Center are located on the perimeter so they all face outside. From the center, you can see everyone. We currently have four clients within the unit and we can care for 10. Eventually, we would like to move toward stabilizing people with high dementia behaviors here, then moving them back into their home, their community or into our memory care on the second floor," said Hackenmueller.
Hackenmueller is relieved the majority of the construction is complete and excited to welcome new residents. The population for the remodeled 40-bed assisted living facility is projected to be half frail elderly and half memory care, with the 10-bed Kitty Rhoades Center dedicated to dementia crisis care. The plan going forward is to occupy one floor at a time as need dictates building communities in the process and being financially responsible.
The addition of the new therapy pool and ceiling lift enables the health center to provide unique physical therapy services that distinguish it from other providers in the region. Aquatic therapy combines the natural healing properties of water with technology such as an underwater treadmill, resistance therapy jets and deep tissue massage to reduce pain, improve range of motion and enhance rehabilitation outcomes. The pool is also outfitted with a large color monitor so patients can follow their underwater activity. The pool can be used to address a wide range of conditions from arthritis and chronic pain to knee and ankle injuries to neurological and cardiac conditions.
"The Fund to Benefit the St. Croix Health Center wrote a grant to the Andersen Foundation for $300,000 to enable us to get this pool and also raised over $5,000 to pay for half of the ceiling lift. They have played an integral part in helping us reach our goals and dreams with the pool," said Hackenmueller.
Despite having an amazing new facility at her disposal, Hackenmueller still faces frustrating challenges in the form of ongoing bureaucratic restrictions.
"Right now with the home and community-based waiver, we are not able to take people with Family Care, so all residents have to be private pay until they make a change in the regulations. We're working on that with the federal government, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the state," said Hackenmueller.
With the advent of the new bridge, Hackenmueller sees the new health center positioned in the right place at the right time. She expects the demand for quality assisted living resources will grow. Provided the government can get on the same page with providers, the future for residents of St. Croix County looks promising.