Hillside Terrace to welcome community
Helen Frye put a conversation on hold Monday to take a cell phone call concerning the delivery of mattresses to Hillside Village, stepping around an electrician installing ceiling lights.
Frye is in the center of the hectic activities as construction workers race to finish work inside the soon-to-be assisted-living, skilled-nursing complex.
Although Frye doesn't anticipate the assisted living and skilled nursing complex will house its first residents until the first week of August (pending the completion of required state inspections), she is working feverishly to go ahead with the ribbon cutting ceremony for the new assisted-living and nursing center in the heart of De Soto.
Elsewhere in the building, Bob Haynes expressed satisfaction with the work old Cedar Grove facility a makeover worthy of a new name.
"They have made vast improvements from the old nursing center that used to be here," Haynes said. "I wanted to create a facility like this in the area so that residents would not have to move away from their homes."
Although they have already received commitments from as far away as St. Louis, Haynes and Frye are hoping to attract a good number of "De Soto-ites" to their location from residential care centers in nearby communities. Frye was optimistic that Hillside would not only attract long-time De Soto residents back to the area, but also expose residents to the assisted-living option they may not have had at previous nursing centers.
"I guarantee you we will have people coming here thinking they have to live in a nursing center," Frye said. "And once they get here they'll want to (and be able to) move over to the assisted living side of the building."
The complex will feature a 49-bed skilled nursing center as well as 38 assisted-living apartments. The 38 assisted-living apartments were added after Haynes purchased the nursing home building.
Frye, the on-site administrator, has insisted on living side-by-side with residents to bring a unique feeling of community between her and the people with whom she will be working every day.
"I want to live in the facility until my apartment is needed for a new resident," Frye said. "Therefore, it's not just a facility I work at, but it really becomes my facility."
The kitchen was being fitted for preparing what Frye said would be "home cooking" rather than institutionalized cooking.
Frye envisioned the center becoming filled with a whirlwind of activities aimed at keeping things fresh for the residents. With a background as a nursing center activities director, she said she wasn't opposed to organizing unorthodox activities to create an atmosphere of creativity at Hillside.
"In the past, we've done everything from Glamour Shots to cheerleading practice," Frye said. "I'm not going to stifle creativity because an employee is trying something new and unusual."
In an attempt to diversify the kind of services offered residents, Hillside has sought arrangements with the academic community to provide added resources to help seniors remain as active and as independent as possible. Working with Kansas University, Hillside is setting up a library that will allow residents access to computers. Residents will have access features such as their own e-mail account. Additionally, De Soto High School officials have been in contact with Hillside to discuss forming a relationship between students and residents.
"The response from the education community has been tremendous," Frye said. "It's exactly what we need because we want to create a sort of community within a community."
Frye and the staff members of a work force that will eventually number 50 employees were hurrying to make sure all bases were covered: from a working whirlpool to an on-site beautician. In between, her time highlighting the numerous features of each living residence (walk-in closets, furnished kitchens, and window views overlooking a courtyard), Frye is busy preparing for long and involved inspections from an assortment of government regulatory agencies.
"No one gets regulated as much as we are," Frye said. "Except for nuclear energy, but other than that we are next down on the chain."
The grand opening for Hillside Village of De Soto is scheduled for 2 p.m. Sunday. It will include entertainment and tours.