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Evergreens Unveils Homey Health Care Building

The 100-year-old retirement community's new facility puts the "home" in "nursing home."

I’m about 5 minutes into my tour of the ’ new health care building with CEO Doug Halvorsen when it hits me:

Heck, I’d like to live here.

The spa, the salon down the hall, the comfortable 400-square-foot rooms—each one with a kitchenette and private bathroom—the serene courtyard and living room-like common areas, the massive kitchen/dining room with granite countertops and state-of-the-art cooking equipment.

This isn’t a nursing home, it’s a home.

“What we tried to build is a highly residential, non-institutional-feeling building, that’s built to health standards,” said Halvorsen.

Here’s a small example of what he’s talking about: Health code requires that in an assisted living/skilled nursing facility such as this, every resident’s room must have exam gloves, paper towels and soap at the ready. In most places, these items are contained in “great big ugly institutional dispensers” stuck to the wall, explained Halvorsen.

Residents at the Evergreens’ new health care building will find these items packed into nice little knockoffs of Longaberger baskets (I had to look it up too) atop the bathroom sink.

“It looks like something that would be in someone’s home, not a hospital,” he said, which could be said of the entire building. Everything was designed to let residents forget the words “health care” are used to describe where they’re living.

The structure is of an $80 million, four-phase renovation of the 93-year-old retirement community. The health care building, which represents the most significant portion of the project at $32 million, was formally unveiled at a ribbon-cutting ceremony Tuesday morning.

Halvorsen, who took over in 2002, said, “I’ve been working on this for 10 years … It’s probably one of the most satisfying things I’ve ever participated in. We fleshed out in bricks and mortar how health care should be done.”

The 87,000-square-foot building is split into three floors—assisted living on the first and third, skilled nursing on the second—and has 76 total rooms. It will temporarily house 100 residents while phase III is under construction.

Phase III will add 24 assisted living apartments in a new building adjacent to the health care center. Also included in Phase III is a new community center, additional dining options, a new library, upgraded physical therapy services and a wellness center, among other features, according to the Evergreens website.

Phase I involved renovations to the dining rooms, kitchen, and residential gardens, as well as a number of other improvements, Halvorsen said.

The Evergreens is home to approximately 300 residents.

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