Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Ceremonial groundbreaking of Homeplace celebrates collaboration of community and others to fulfill dream

By Courtney Kincaid
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

Christian Care Communities, public officials and community and business leaders broke ground Tuesday for The Homeplace at Midway, which will be a unique senior living residence in Kentucky.

The ceremonial groundbreaking marked $13.5 million investment and a celebration of collaboration involving about 50 locals and other leaders who worked for 15 years to make the project possible.

Construction is expected to begin in summer 2013, with an anticipated opening in late 2014.

Dr. Keith Knapp, president and CEO of Christian Care Communities, addressed the crowd.
Christian Care Communities Chairman Allan Parsons told the crowd, “This dream could not have been realized without the persistence, vision and the tenacity of the Midway Nursing Home Task Force and the guiding leadership of Helen Rentch. And this would not have been realized without the financial support from the community.”

The project plan called for $2 million to be raised locally. Pledges from several local community members and organizations were key contributors in helping to push this project forward, including Helen Roach Rentch, Hargus Sexton, Betty Ann Voigt, the Mary K. Oxley Foundation, the Woodford Health Foundation, Midway Presbyterian Church, The Keeneland Foundation, the William Stamps Farish Foundation and former Gov. Brereton Jones and his wife, Libby Jones.

In addition to the donations, the project is being financed by an $11.4 million, low-interest loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and a $500,000 grant of federal community-development funds from the state, for infrastructure to serve the facility.

"What a great, beautiful community this is," Tom Fern, head of USDA Rural Development for Kentucky, told the crowd. "Perseverance does pay off."

The Nursing Home Task Force, formed by a group of community members, overcame many obstacles and challenges.  Christian Care Communities President Keith Knapp explained a few of the hurdles the development has had to maneuver around, including its design, financing and location.
The project's complexity was illustrated by the number of shovelers: too many to fit into the photo!
The Homeplace at Midway will be Kentucky’s first Green House senior living community, much different than a traditional nursing home.  The Green House model is intended to deinstitutionalize long-term care by eliminating large nursing facilities and creating habilitative, social settings, according to the Green House Project. The concept emphasizes freedom and flexibility for elders and allows elderly residents to live in small subdivided houses, with nursing and health-care providers proving on-site care.

Audrey Haynes, secretary of the state Cabinet for Health and Family Services, emphasized the flexibility and freedom the Green House model will give residents, such as the freedom to choose when they eat. Hanes said such things truly make a difference in the type of independence residents will have, and led to administrative actions by her cabinet to clear the way for the project.

Haynes said she told Knapp in their first visit, “This is the most exciting thing I’ve heard about in a long time,” and “We’re going to break rules, but we have to move forward with this.” She told the crowd, “This project will be a catalyst for similar ones in Kentucky.”

Mayor Tom Bozarth said the Homeplace will mean more to Midway than 42 jobs and an annual payroll of $1.7 million. “We now have a facility where our loved ones can continue to live in Midway with the appropriate level of care that they may need for the rest of their lives without leaving Midway,” he said. “Dreams do come true.”

Woodford Sun photo by John McDaniel
Rentch, left, considered by many to be the backbone behind the project, was full of excitement and tears of joy.

“I know I’m one of the happiest people here,” she told the crowd. “It was this time of year in the spring of 1999 when several members of the Midway community met to talk about how to keep our seniors at home. People were having to go as far away as Pike County to get care.  The circumstances were a frightening burden on friends and family and heartbreaking as some would be spending their last days among complete strangers.”
Rentch said a key hurdle was convincing potential lenders that a small facility would be financially viable. She said that was accomplished by an accounting firm’s market survey, financed largely by several $1,000 gifts, started by the Joneses and followed by a number from people who “had never given a  thousand dollars to anything,” she said, her voice cracking with emotion.

Brereton Jones, the only other major donor to speak, told the crowd, “This shows what can happen when people decide they’re going to work with each other.”

Bozarth said, “This was a dream by a small group of Midway residents that saw a need for a second nursing home in Woodford County.  They seized the opportunity.  This is an epitome of a real grassroots effort put forth by the Nursing Home Task Force, who after 12-plus years continued to be focused on their dreams. This group has always been the little engine that could, and today they became the little engine that did.”

The Homeplace will have five buildings, including two skilled nursing cottages for 23 residents in need of short-term rehabilitation or long-term care; a 12-bed memory/personal-care cottage for individuals with Alzheimer’s or dementia; and a 12-bed assisted living cottage for residents who need periodic assistance with daily living activities. Future plans include the addition of an adult day-care program and independent living duplexes to complement the initial resident cottages.

The elder community will be built on 31 acres across Stephens Street from the campus of Midway College. This location gives students in the nursing program the opportunity to learn and utilize the Green House model of care.

Midway College President John Marsden said, “We welcome this partnership because it provides a great opportunity for our students to learn about a Green House project through their clinical experiences and their servant leadership projects. It also provides a great opportunity for our students and faculty to collaborate on research and to look at ways to improve the care of older adults.”

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