St. Mark’s expansion nearly done

Published 3:02 pm Monday, March 18, 2013

—A version of this story originally appeared in Progress 2013. Get a copy at the Austin Daily Herald office, 310 Second St. NE.

Lutheran home planning open house

A $13.4-million expansion at St. Mark’s Lutheran Home is almost finished, and residents and families are giving positive reviews.

Administrator Chris Schulz said assisted living and short-term rehab construction is finished, and the rooms are already in use. Construction on memory care rooms is expected to finish in April. Schulz said tours are available for anyone, but an open house will be planned for next month.

“We want to do an open house sometime in April where the community can come in and do tours,” Schulz said.

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He expects an open house would last four hours and be planned for a Sunday, but no date is chosen yet. He’s already toured the facility with families and said people have expressed that they like the warm colors and wide hallways, among other positive comments.

“It’s been wonderful,” Schulz said. “We had the opportunity to update our campus, and the staff and everyone here are excited.”

St. Mark’s will also celebrate its 50th anniversary in June, and Schulz expects that a celebration of some sort will be planned to commemorate that date.

The remodel included cosmetic upgrades like paint and carpet, but also was meant to represent a shift in the direction of the industry and needs of the residents. More people want to stay in assisted living, rather than traditional nursing home beds to maintain a level of care but still have personal freedom. Schulz said residents want to feel safe and comfortable, but also independent. The assisted living unit increased from 15 beds to 25, and each has a private room with a bathroom and shower.

Changes in the industry also show in other shifts. St. Mark’s will still offer 61 skilled nursing home beds, but they’re changing from 12 short-term rehab beds to 16 for people who typically return home.

The biggest change will be the addition of 21 memory care rooms for residents with dementia and Alzheimer’s, which will take the place of the current assisted living and short-term rehab wings.

Other facilities offer memory care in Austin, but experts in the industry predict the need for memory care to increase with a projected rising number of Alzheimer’s patients.

“The memory facility is going to be important to the community,” Schulz said.

Along with the change in room styles, the facility will feature a new chapel. It will be slightly larger than the old one, and will boast higher ceilings and a better atmosphere with a good sound system.

There will also be an enclosed courtyard, community rooms, sun rooms and a lot of social area for the residents.

Even with the remodel, the number of St. Mark’s employees will stay at about 115.