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Oakwood’s $9.2M project to add rooms

Springfield center will build 30 rehab rooms, 16-apartment dementia care area.

By month’s end, Oakwood Village will break ground on a $9.2 million project to add 30 beds to its skilled nursing and rehabilitation program and a new 16-apartment Memory Unit with an enclosed outdoor courtyard to serve patients with dementia.

Jamie Houseman, the facility’s executive director, said construction is expected to last 200 days and the unit to open in fall 2014.

The official ceremony will be at 3 p.m. Tuesday at the back of Oakwood’s main complex.

Houseman said both aspects of the project have the same two objectives: first to meet the needs of Oakwood residents for rehabilitation and dementia care, second to expand those resources for the overall community.

An addition of rehabilitation beds “has been on Oakwood’s wish list for about a decade,” Houseman said.

As a facility that provides independent living, assisted living and skilled care, she said, it wants to provide its residents with on-site rehabilitation care when they need it.

Too often, she said, Oakwood has been in the awkward position of having to have its residents undergo rehabilitation in another facility because its own rehabilitation unit is full.

That displeased residents, their families and Oakwood staff, she said, so addressing that “was our first priority.”

The second priority, she said, was to help “people in our community who have chosen us and we haven’t been able to help them.”

Oakwood was able to add the rooms by transferring 30 beds from the Certificate of Need from the closed Mercy St. John’s Center. To try to check unnecessary health care capacity, the Ohio Department of Health must issue such a certificate before health care institutions can add such rooms.

The project also includes doubling the size of Oakwood’s rehabilitation gym to accommodate the expansion 86 skilled care beds to 116.

Houseman said both units are designed based on past occupancy records for their programs and with the plan of maintaining 95 percent occupancy rates.

The Memory Unit apartments “again came out of the need to serve residents we had been taking care of,” she said.

Because “these folks typically are a wandering risk,” she said, the new units will be built in a circular floor pattern rather than as a single long hallway, which leads wanderers to a dead end.

The unit will be “all enclosed, all inclusive, including a courtyard” in which residents could wander outdoors. The courtyard for the Memory Unit will abut the courtyard for the new rehabilitation rooms, the two separated by an opaque divider.

Houseman said the new Memory Unit will include ” very different type of staffing and programming.”

“Our design includes life skills stations, if you will for that person that still thinks they’re going to be working every day.”

She said that if a former reporter with memory issues thought he or she was going to work that day, “we would would go with it.”

She calls it “a very social model, keeping them engaged with activities while still serving the medical component.”

Houseman said Forest Glen uses a similar approach in one of its units, “but I would say there are few in this market, and our data shows there is a need. There’s plenty of this population to go around.

The rehabilitation and Memory Units will be built side-by-side will be at the north end of Oakwood’s complex, and the Memory Unit, in particular will have views of and natural area.

Houseman said a plus for care will be Oakwood’s Electronic Records connection with Springfield Regional Medical Center, from which many patients are transferred for rehabilitative care.

Access to hospital records will make it easier to “bridge back and forth” with patients, she said.

Although doctors and nurses at Oakwood will not be able to enter new data in the hospital charts, she said the read-only access has “already been a wonderful benefit” and she expects that as the systems are supplemented, that “is only going to get better.”

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