St. Luke's completes construction
By Linda Sailer
“We really had fantastic people on the construction committee who offered their input,” board member Todd Otto said. “We had focus groups of family members, residents, staff and board members. We all offered thoughts and ideas.”
St. Luke’s was originally constructed around 1951 and sponsored by 14 area churches affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America.
Realizing the need for structural improvements, the board started discussions in 2002, but ran into roadblocks, board member Todd Otto said.
“The building was constructed of brick and block; but with the pipes poured into the concrete walls, it was prohibitive to remodel,” he said. “So we waited until we could really wrap our arms around what needed to be done.”
He said the number of donated hours by the board was phenomenal.
“We were fortunate to be blessed by so many board members who brought both financial and construction skills,” he said.
Construction roughly doubled the number of square feet, but the 84 beds remain the same.
“Every single bed is Medicaid approved,” he said. “The state controls how many beds are available throughout the state.”
Moving away from an institutional model of care, the board went forward with a neighborhood model.
Otto knew it was the right decision on moving day. One family was bringing a flat-screen TV into a bedroom, when he mentioned there would be televisions in the commons areas.
“We know that,” one family member told Otto, “but this is a beautiful place and we plan to spend more time here with our loved one.”
Bobbie Kennedy, who moved into St. Luke’s in May, likes living there just fine.
“It fits real well, I like everything,” she said.
Concern for the residents was the board’s primary focus.
“We added more flexibility for residents when they get up, when they eat and when they go to bed,” Otto said. “We wanted to make this a place that allowed people to live to their fullest of their limited abilities.”
He said the community room doubles as a chapel and triples as a mini-theater.
It all comes down to enhanced quality of life.
“The reason I’ve been involved is I wanted to be part of helping to create something that helps with the quality of life during one of the most difficult times of life,” he said.
Otto encourages the public to attend the open house.
“We want to share the beautiful accomplishments for the residents,” he said.
Board member Jan Fields has taken on basket silent auction during the open house. Proceeds will be used toward construction of a canopy at the entrance.
She appreciates the home-like atmosphere of St. Luke’s.
“You walk in there and feel a relaxed atmosphere,” she said. “I’d say it’s just warmer, the colors are warm, the furniture is warm. Residents eat in small groups, and not in a big dining hall. It’s the whole package. It’s the nurses and staff who are very caring — they are there for you.”