St. Luke halfway to $1.5 million goal for senior home

Architect renderings offer a glimpse of the interior, including a fireplace, near the entryway, and the exterior look of the entrance, which is part of a 1,000-square-foot addition to the St. Luke Living Center project. Mike Norris says the “Moving Forward Together” campaign is about halfway to the $1.5 million goal. With staff settling into the expanded and improved St. Luke Medical Clinic last week, the focus of St. Luke Founda­tion’s $1.5 million “Moving Forward Together” campaign is focusing in earnest on the campaign’s primary project: to renovate the Living Center, which is St. Luke’s 32-bed long-term care unit.

Mike Norris, campaign director, and Roger Schroe­der, St. Luke Founda­tion executive director, say upgrades are long overdue.

“The one thing we hear all the time is that something needs to be done, there need to be changes,” said Norris, noting that it’s been some 30 years since the last upgrade.

“The atmosphere is not what it could be,” he said. But it’s never about the care, or the employees or the love they feel here. It’s just that the building needs to be upgraded.”

“Everything from the mood the new paint colors will make you feel, to actually having the handrails be replaced—it’s everything from feeling better to the structure working better.

“No walls are going to be knocked out, but the rooms are going to be updated with everything from curtains to flooring, to new bathroom sinks, a paint job and all that. We have options where folks can donate to specific projects that they want to support.”

One major infrastructure change will remain invisible for the most part, but will go a long way to provide a comfortable living area for the residents.

“It’s not the sexiest thing in the world, but the HVAC is probably the top priority,” Norris said. “We need a new, updated system.”

The foundation also has applied for a grant to install energy-efficient windows.

Dining Room Design“We’re making sure the residents are comfortable, and at a cheaper cost,” Norris said. “We don’t know yet if we’ll receive that grant, but we should know maybe between now and mid-September.”

If the full funding goal is achieved, Living Center residents will see some key structural changes to their living spaces.

On tap is a 1,000-square-foot addition to the west entrance, which will provide space for administrative offices and a newly designed dining area that can seat 28 people at capacity.

“The current dining room doesn’t accommodate all the residents,” Norris said. “That space is going to be converted into kind of a living area.”

The new space for office staff should increase efficiency.

“Currently, (staff are) all spread out throughout the facility,” Schroeder said. “They’re either two in an office, or way down the hall from each other.

“We hope to centralize the staff a little bit. That will allow the new dining room to hold everybody and be a lot more palatable.”

Norris and Schroeder say about the only space to be left untouched is the outdoor courtyard next to the building.

“We’re not going to build out into the courtyard or anything like that,” Norris said. “That’s going to remain how it is, because on nice days it’s a big deal for them to go outside.”

Community support

Norris and Schroeder said the campaign has enjoyed strong support from the community, but the $1.5 million goal will require even more generosity.

“We’re about at the halfway point,” Norris said about the final goal.

“The goal was to raise $1.2 million for the Living Center. Right as we were getting started, and we were doing all the preliminary work for it, the board decided the clinic needed some additions,” he said.

“We’ve had some wonderful support already,” Norris added. “Some of it has been within, like the (St. Luke) Auxiliary and our employees,” he said.

The St. Luke staff pledged $136,000, board members have pledged close to $60,000 and the Auxiliary has contributed $155,000 to the campaign.

Schroeder said people have supported the project by participating with the Auxillary store downtown.

“Whether they’re buying things from the Auxiliary, donating things to the Auxiliary or putting in time at the Auxiliary—that’s just another aspect of the community working together,” he said.

“Whether they know it directly or indirectly, that facility downtown gives a lot back to the community and gives a lot back to St. Luke.”

Every funding source is valued, say Norris and Schroeder, and every contributions is needed to reach the goal.

For example, the Dinky Duck fund­raiser raised about $7,000 for the cause during Chinga­wassa Days.

“Others from the community, and some from outside the community, have contributed, but probably over 90 percent of (donations to) the project have some sort of affiliation to the community—which makes sense,” Schroeder said.

Seven years ago, St. Luke Hospital launched a $6.5 million project mainly funded by bonds to renovate the entire building.

“It would have been ideal to include the Living Center, too, but it just wasn’t financially feasible at that time,” Norris said.

Ever since the hospital project was completed, the desire has been to give the entire facility—hospital, clinic and nursing home—a consistent, aesthetically pleasing look and feel.

“Right now, you can go from the hospital to the Living Center and you can tell the difference,” Norris said. “I don’t know if it’s going to be a 100 percent match exactly when we’re done. But when you go into the hospital, you know that it’s new. There’s not going to be a place in the Living Center where it’s not touched.”

Schroeder said no one is looking forward to renovation more than the residents themselves—and they’re finding ways to raise money for it, too.

“They do a lot of activities over the course of a month,” he said. “They sell cookies and things like that. They want to do whatever they can to help.

“It’s their home,” he added. “Their buy-in is just as important as ours and our employees, and everybody else who works here and lives here. I’m glad we have that support from them, too.”

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