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Elizabeth Care Center opens doors to first residents

A center courtyard area at the new Elizabeth Care Center in Wirt County. The center opened July 28 and currently has nine residents and is serving people recovering from surgery, injury, illness and people choosing a long-term care center for an extended residential stay. The courtyard is a space where residents can come out and enjoy some fresh air. Plans will be to eventually have some gardening activities out there as well. (Photo Provided)

ELIZABETH — After years of planning and work, a new skilled nursing care facility has opened in Wirt County.

The new skilled nursing care center, 83 Little Kanawha Parkway, opened July 28 and is serving people recovering from surgery, injury and illness and those choosing a long-term care center for an extended residential stay.

“We are open now with nine residents,” said Elizabeth Care Center Administrator Cameron Huddleston. “We are accepting more as soon as it is safe and appropriate to do so.”

The center, located next to Coplin Health Systems, includes transitional care, rehab-to-home care, full rehab care, long-term care and short-term care. It is also one of the first new skilled nursing care facilities to be built in the state in a long time.

Local and state officials worked for years to have a skilled nursing care facility in the area.

The new Elizabeth Care Center in Wirt County will eventually be a 36-bed skilled nursing care facility. It has both semi-private and private rooms available. (Photo Provided)

Officials felt in many cases, families had to put their loved ones in facilities that were some distance away in either Parkersburg, locations in Ohio or elsewhere. Family members would have to drive an hour or so to be able to visit which would be complicated for family members who were getting up in years.

The facility was built about five years ago and experienced delays as officials tried to find someone who could set up a nursing care facility at the location. At one point, it was announced that the facility might become a medical office facility, including a range of different practices and services needed in the area.

Providence Health Management of Nashville, Tenn., began discussions and eventually signed an agreement in February to operate the facility as a 36-bed skilled nursing care facility.

“Coplin had been looking for someone to come in and operate the facility as a nursing home,” Huddleston said. “They worked out a deal for (Providence) to come in.”

In addition to doing some work on the building, Providence also finished the parking lot and building another driveway entrance for the facility from W.Va. Route 5.

One of the rooms at the new Elizabeth Care Center in Wirt County. The center, which is located next to Coplin Health Systems, includes transitional care, rehab-to-home care, full rehab care, long-term care and short-term care. (Photo Provided)

The center has just under 30 employees, including nurses, nursing assistants, dietary cooks, housekeeping and other support staff, he said adding as they get more residents they will be able to hire more people. He expects they will eventually have around 60 employees.

“The vision for the facility is to be very closely tied to the community and be able to provide a place for people to live and work,” Huddleston said. “Being a small facility we can be a lot more specific, detailed and personalized when it comes to the care of our residents.

“This is their home.”

Rehabilitation services at the center include speech therapy, stroke recovery, physical therapy, occupational therapy, gait training and support, fall preventative education and orthopedic post surgical care.

Nursing services include restorative care, post-surgical care, diabetic monitoring, access to full-time dietitian, interdisciplinary care team, pharmacy and lab services and 24-hour skilled nursing care.

A gathering and entertainment area in the new Elizabeth Care Center in Wirt County. The new skilled nursing care facility opened July 28. The center, which is run by Providence Health Management of Nashville, Tenn. had all new furnishings and equipment brought in as the facility was getting prepared to open. (Photo Provided)

Individualized resident care includes development of individualized plans, providing adaptive activities programs, encouraging participation in favorite life activities, striving to reach each resident’s highest potential and assisting family members and loved ones in understanding complex diseases.

“We are extremely honored and grateful for the opportunity to serve the community of Elizabeth and Wirt County as well as the greater Parkersburg area,” said Providence President and Chief Operating Officer Steve Nee. “The Elizabeth Care Center team has done a tremendous job preparing our new center for this day, and we are excited to reach this milestone in the opening process.

“We look forward to welcoming additional residents to their new home in the coming weeks and months.”

Huddleston said its scale allows it to do a lot of personalized activities with their residents which add value to the lives at the center. With the COVID-19 pandemic limiting interaction they have had to get creative with what they can do.

“They have individual and group activities,” he said. “That is more important now as people are in their rooms more often.

The dining room and activities space at the new Elizabeth Care Center in Elizabeth. Center officials described their dietary programs as being a cross between food services and restaurant type service where residents can order a variety of food between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. (Photo Provided)

“It is an interesting process to come up with fun and innovative ways to find out what we can do to add value to their lives while they are at the facility.”

He described their dietary programs as being a cross between food services and restaurant type service where residents can order a variety of food between 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

“One family brings a resident green beans to string,” Huddleston said. “We do that as one of her personalized activities which is really cool.

“A family will bring in their green tomatoes for a loved one and we will incorporate that into their meals (with the proper precautions taken in regard to the pandemic).

“We can do fried green tomatoes which can be served as a snack or part of a meal. We get to do that for them.”

The rooms are of good sizes and includes a bathroom, large-sized beds and more. There are 16 semi-private rooms and four private rooms.

“It is a new facility and newly furnished,” Huddleston said. “It is really a nice place.”

The center accepts Medicare and Medicaid and private insurances.

They can accept both short-term and long-term residents from the community and from other facilities as well as referrals from hospitals.

Wirt County Commissioner Teresa Murray said many people worked on the project for many years, including state lawmakers, former commissioners including Robert Lowe who passed away last year and others throughout the community including local resident Winnie Murray, who has also since passed away and others who did not get to see it completed or who got to see the project before it was completely finished.

“People had to get an idea and get it started,” Teresa Murray said. ” It is a blessing for Wirt County and all of the hard work has paid off.”

Having many local people employed there is good for the local economy.

“We want to have more things come our way,” Teresa Murray said. “Whatever we can keep going and add to, we want to do it.”

Former Delegate Anna Border, who had worked on the project for a number of years as did her late husband, Delegate Larry Border, said it was “a dream come true.”

“I think it was a long wait to have a prayer answered,” she said. “The people out there have been so isolated from the kind of care that so many of us take for granted.

“I feel that, finally, they are going to have a place in their own town where they can get the care they need.”

Larry Border worked on it for 10 years before his wife took office and it continued through her tenure and beyond.

“It has been 20 years in the making,” she said. “I am thrilled.”

Contact Brett Dunlap at bdunlap@newsandsentinel.com

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