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Bethany welcomes community

Visitors tour completed projects

By Angie Landsverk

Bethany Home opened its expanded campus to the community during a Sunday, May 7 open house.

“We believe this project is a bridge to get us to the next 120 years. The project ensures we will be here the next 120 years,” said Pauline Darling, Bethany Home’s CEO and administrator.

She made the comment during the blessing ceremony that took place that day in the lower level of the new skilled nursing facility.

During the open house, area residents toured The Springs Wellness Center, The Pines Assisted Living and Spruce Ridge and Hickory Heights Skilled Nursing.

They also had the opportunity to travel through Shadow Woods Independent Living and learn about the duplexes there.

Bethany Home’s project included the construction of a three-story skilled nursing and rehabilitation center.

Each floor has 18 private rooms.

The first floor is for long-term care, the second floor for those with dementia and the third floor for short-term care and rehabilitation.

The second floor includes a hospice suite.

Another part of the project was the expansion of The Pines. That added an additional 20 assisted living units.

Studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom units are available there.

Last fall, The Springs Wellness Center opened to community members age 55 and older.

It includes a fitness center, interactive demonstration kitchen and massage studio.

Bethany Home’s existing nursing home will next be remodeled and repurposed to a community-based residential facility, which will include 36 secured private rooms for residents with cognitive needs.

Planning for the overall project began five years ago, and the ground breaking took place on Oct. 4, 2015.

Board President Jeff Oestreich was not yet on the board when that process began.

Oestreich said today’s demographics show people are not only going to live longer but that they will live more vital and productive lives.

He described Bethany Home’s expanded campus as “exactly what the future needs and wants.”

It includes independent living, assisted living, skilled nursing, a wellness center and a restaurant that is open to the public.

The Bleu Barn is Bethany’s new restaurant, and Oestreich mentioned seeing people play card games in that area already.

He said people may move to Bethany as they age and remain there until the end of their lives.

“It creates a sense of community,” Oestreich said. “I hope that the employees who are here are just as proud as I am.”

Darling recognized those who helped make the project happen.

“My No. 1 is the USDA,” she said. “We would not have the project we have without the loan. We would not have been able to afford it.”

Bethany Home received a $25 million low-interest direct loan from the United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development through the Community Facilities Program.

“This project is an excellent example of collaboration and partnership with the local community to help improve health services and the quality of life for people in central Wisconsin,” said Dave Schwobe, USDA Rural Development Wisconsin acting state director. “It is touching to hear the stories of current residents that vacationed or lived in the Waupaca area who now have fulfilled their dream of retiring in a beautiful part of Wisconsin.”

Darling said the 32-year loan has an interest rate of 2.38 percent.

“In a rural community like this, you need someone who supports you. Facilities not doing what we’re doing are going under and closing,” she said.

Darling said the USDA loan will help Bethany Home “provide better care than ever before.”

She described being part of the project as a good experience and also as a learning experience.

Darling felt the city’s support.

Mayor Brian Smith said, “It was hard to grasp when they came to the city and wanted to have a restaurant and a wellness center. It’s interesting to see the new concept here.”

Since the property is in a residential area, there were concerns about how a three-story building would fit into it.

“Now it looks like it’s natural,” Smith said.

He said the city appreciated working with Darling and her staff.

When she gave her remarks, she acknowledged Bethany’s employees, residents and board of directors, as well the families, visitors and neighbors.

She also extended appreciation to a couple who donated oil prints from their art gallery, because they are retiring.

Darling said Bethany Home has a rotating board, and each member brought something to the table.

She appreciated the patience of Bethany’s residents, families, visitors and neighbors throughout the project.

Darling thanked her director’s team and her staff, describing how many of them spent six hours there on Saturday, cleaning the building.

As people walked through the buildings, they commented on how it does not feel institutional.

They described the new spaces as bright and peaceful.

“Bless all who will live and be cared for within these walls,” said Rev. Chuck Tews.

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