Eleanor Ehl is happy to have sunlight in her room.
“I haven’t had sunlight in my room for five years,” she said as she sat under a hair dryer in the hair salon. “I’ve been on the wrong side of the building all this time. Maybe I’ll even see the moon once in a while, so that will be good.”
Eleanor, who has spent 16 years at Scandia Village, was one of the assisted care residents who moved on Dec. 17 into one of the 26 new apartments in the beautiful new wing that was built as part of Scandia’s $8 million “Partners in Compassion” building campaign.
“It’s quite impressive and quite beautiful,” Eleanor said of the new unit, which includes a separate canopied entryway that opens into an impressive high-ceilinged area, an open dining room area, a chapel, massage room, spa, wellness center and plenty of storage space.
“I’m pretty well set up. A few boxes to be unloaded yet, but other than that, I’m comfy,” Eleanor said. “I’ve met a lot of nice people. I love all the staff. They’re a good bunch and they work hard. Everything has moved very smoothly, considering that we moved so many people out of one building to another.”
Eleanor also mentioned that she is the rebel of the group, evidenced by Chicago Bears and Cubs banners on her door.
“I’m not a Packers fan. I will watch the Brewers once in a while, but I’m from Chicago, so I’m Chicago Cubs and Chicago Bears, neither of which team has done very well, but as we say in Chicago, there’s always next year. It makes for a lot of teasing and good humor between all of us. We have fun with it.”
Also having her hair done for the noon Christmas party was Florence Podraza.
“I love it here and everybody is so nice,” she said. “They don’t put it on. They really mean it. Very nice people. I have no reason to find anything wrong. The new apartment is so beautiful. They did that so we’d be sure to stay.”
Flo’s husband entered Scandia first, and he wanted her to join him, which she did three years ago.
“The food is good. I wish I could help in the kitchen, but it comes from another building, so I keep in touch with the cook there. I told him I like his hot dogs. He grills them. So when I see him in the hallway, he says, ‘Flo, we’re having hot dogs this week.’ So you’re known by everybody.”
“The conception for this started probably 10 years ago,” said Nicki Scharrig, director of Marketing & Resource Development and Volunteer Coordinator. “We knew we had a need. At one point our plan also included new apartments. That’s still something we’d very much like to do, but we knew we had to start with our most critical areas first, and assisted living we found is where we had to start. We did a market study in 2011. Based off that study, we formed a big group of volunteers and actually kicked off the capital campaign in May of 2012. And then at that time we began working with architects and engineers. We’re very close with our national campus out in Sioux Falls. They provide a lot of guidance and consulting.”
And the result is calm, soothing environment with lots of natural lighting from windows and many inviting rooms and areas.
“Before this, the assisted living area was small, equipment in hallways, no privacy. Residents had a bed and a chair to watch TV,” Scharrig said. “So now they have their own sitting room, kitchenette, separate bedroom, sitting areas, gorgeous dining room. It’s just fantastic. We want to make it a calm environment, and it very much is. You get the feel of a five-star hotel. It doesn’t have that nursing home feel to it all, yet the care is here.”
She points out that both the massage therapy room and the wellness area are open to the public.
“Anybody can come in here and get a massage. It’s very affordable so a lot of people do that,” she said of the wellness area, which includes a separate room for physical therapy, speech therapy and occupational therapy. “We have a lot of community support for this area, because, again, the community can use this. We have a lot of high school athletes with sports injuries all the way up to anybody who has hip or knee surgery.”
The dining room has a kitchen where made-to-order breakfasts are served. Other meals are shuttled over from the main kitchen in the older building and served out of the new kitchen.
“We’ve brought family members and auxiliary members through. They’re so happy,” Scharrig said. “They already knew they were getting good care, but to have this type of environment is so soothing. This spring we’re going to have a larger community event when some of our big donors are back.”
Also this spring, the volunteer team will get together again with staff to plan for the final phase of the three-phase campaign. That $1.7 million project will focus on renovation of the skilled care center. To become a Partner in Compassion by making a donation to the campaign, call Nicki Scharrig at 920.854.2317.