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Bethany Home breaks ground

Facility starts work on $21 million project

By Angie Landsverk

After four years of planning, Bethany Home is beginning a $21 million project.

“I believe our predecessors would be proud that we preserved their vision,” Chief Executive Officer Pauline Darling said during the Sunday, Oct. 4 ground breaking.

The nursing home’s project includes the construction of a three-story skilled nursing and rehabilitation center on Berlin Street, which will house 18 private, skilled nursing rooms per floor.

Another part of the project is the expansion of its Bethany Pines section.

The Pines, Bethany Home’s current 20 residential care apartment complex of one and two-bedroom units, will be expanded with a one-story structure, resulting in an additional 20 units.

The project also includes the construction of a wellness center designed specifically for geriatric use.

Bethany Home residents, as well as community members, will have access to the programs and fitness equipment designed specifically for geriatric use.

Darling said the construction aspect of the overall project will take about 19 months and will then be followed by the remodeling of the existing building.

Bethany Home’s existing six-wing nursing home will be remodeled.

Its 64 rooms will be repurposed to a Community Based Residential Facility, which will include 36 secured private rooms for residents with cognitive needs.

The secure area will have a Memory Care Garden.

The renovation of the building will result in all of the rooms being private ones. Currently, 44 of the 64 rooms are private single person rooms.

Bethany Homes’s history in Waupaca dates back to 1897.

It began as an orphanage and a became a home for senior citizens in 1954.

Darling and others who spoke during the ground breaking ceremony reflected on Bethany Home’s history.

She noted that when it became a place for seniors, its mission was to provide activities for them.

The Rev. John Schmidt, a chaplain at Bethany Home, said the purpose of the home has been to serve others.

“As we look to the future, we want to build on the present and the past,” he said.

In Aramic, “Bethany” means the house of the poor or the house of the afflicted, said Dick Bidwell, who is president of Bethany Home’s board.

“This is holy ground. this is sacred soil,” he said.

Bidwell said it is time to turn the soil over so Bethany Home may remain a place for seniors in the community.

Robert Stange, 93, is a past board member who was active during Bethany Home’s building construction in the 1960s.

After placing a six pack of O’Douls on the podium, he offered a toast to the latest project.

Waupaca Alderman Paul Mayou said, “This is a wonderful example of private and public sector cooperation.”

Brennan Kane, Waupaca’s development director, said that of the different projects he has been involved in during his professional career, this “is definitely one of the most exciting.”

Kane said he has never met someone more dedicated than Darling and her team.

He congratulated her and the entire Bethany Home organization.

Darling said countless hours went into the planning, and she thanked the board of directors for its commitment to the nursing home’s future.

As she recognized Bethany Home’s donors, local businesses and the member congregations, Darling said, “We cannot be successful without your continued support and prayers.”

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