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La Loma renovations near completion

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Shane McOwen's picture

All phases of the La Loma Village renovations are expected to be completely finished by the end of the 2014 calendar year, Sun Health officials said.

The renovations at the La Loma Care Center, at 14154 W. Denny Blvd. in Litchfield Park, are expected to be complete in just under three years’ time. Renovations began in February 2012.

We’re more than halfway there,” said Susan Davis, executive director of La Loma Village. “We just have two areas right now that aren’t [finished].”

La Loma underwent additions to the campus to add a rehabilitation gym, assisted living quarters, and a café area.

Rehabilitation gym

The project was originally started to build a 6,400-square-foot rehabilitation gym, Davis said.

We had been doing rehab on the second floor in what’s our dining room,” she said. “So that was really a need for the residents as they age, was to be able to have rehabilitation on campus.”

The gym is currently in use and is split into two sections, one for inpatient use and one for outpatient use. La Loma acquired its outpatient license in September 2013 so community members would be able to go in and use the facility, Davis said. Arizona law says inpatients and outpatients must be treated in different gyms, thus the split facilities, Davis said.

A lot of times, we have patients that come to the care center and they’re discharged home,” Davis said. “[With this], they can come back and have the same therapist and use the same equipment, and they don’t have to be reevaluated. All they need is a little bit more therapy, but don’t need to be an inpatient.”

The wing of the campus that holds the rehabilitation gym has its own, new entrance, making it feel much like a regular rehab clinic.

There’s a drop-off area and parking,” Davis said. “They can come in through that door as if it were a free standing building on its own.”

Davis said La Loma knows the value of having the two gyms.

Most facilities have hours for their inpatient gym, they don’t have the luxury of having two gyms,” Davis said. “We feel very honored to have that.”

The new addition also includes a healing garden that has a specific purpose other than decoration. The garden has many different types of paved, and non-paved, pathways to help patients get used to walking on different types of surfaces.

It’s real important that residents going home to the community have practice on different types of surfaces,” Davis said. “When you have a walker, you’re not just going to always get smooth cement, you’re going to get gravel sometimes, or bricks.”

Assisted living

Another major renovation nearing completion is the transformation of a 32-bed nursing unit into 10 one-bedroom assisted living apartments.

[The assisted living] is just completed,” Davis said. “We just got our occupancy permit last week and we’re waiting for the Arizona Department of Health Services to come survey us to license us for assisted living.”

The finishing touches are still being put on the area, but the apartments should be move-in ready very soon, Davis said.

Each apartment has a small kitchen and living room and a separate bedroom and bathroom, with very large closet space.

All of our seniors have lots of clothes,” Davis said.

The 10 apartments are licensed for 15 residents, allowing half of the apartments to be occupied by couples, Sun Health COO Sharon Grambow said.

We can have up to five couples because of the way we licensed it,” Grambow said.

One of the final renovations has yet to be started: an Internet café.

If the spouse comes and wants to wait while they’re doing therapy, they can come to the Internet café and get a coffee,” Davis said.

Another addition to the campus that is already in place next to where the Internet café will be is the community education room. That room will be where educational presentations and classes will be held, Community Relations Manager Bill Mayhall said.

At this particular campus, we used to have to do it in the main dining room; now we have some dedicated space where we can bring in health care providers where they can talk about a wide variety of chronic illnesses,” Mayhall said. “It’s a simple thing, but it’s a real game changer for us.”

Future

La Loma is poised for growth when the time comes, Davis said. La Loma owns around 350 acres of land at the site. About 17 acres have been built on by Sun Health.

We hope to get to a point where we can offer the community assisted living,” Davis said. “In our master plan, we could add assisted living buildings.”

As a nonprofit, Sun Health has to be especially conscious to not build too far past the demand, Davis said.

We have to be cognizant of not building and hoping they come,” Davis said. “We need to have a business plan, and Sun Health has been really wise in that respect, that we build for the need.”

Currently, the La Loma campus is 92 percent occupied, Davis said.

While a main chunk of the renovation is functionally complete, finishing touches still remain. One of those finishing touches is to update the décor around the current facility to match the newly renovated areas.

We’re still putting the finishing touches on it,” Davis said. “Eventually, the whole building will be converted to the new décor.”

The total completion target for the renovations is by the end of 2014, with the Internet café being the last major change to be completed.

By the end of the calendar year for sure,” Grambow said. “The café is really all [that’s left], the café and the lobby area.”

 

Shane McOwen can be reached by email at smcowen@westvalleyview.com.

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