June 16th, 2011

A groundbreaking ceremony for Great River Health Systems’ new long-term-care home is scheduled at 3 p.m. Thursday, June 23, on the health systems’ West Burlington campus, 1221 S. Gear Ave., West Burlington, Iowa. The public is invited; refreshments will be available. 

The new center will be built along the lake on the south side of the campus between the main parking lot and Great River Hospice House. It will replace the existing Klein Center at 2910 Madison Ave., Burlington, but keep the same name. The estimated cost is $25 million to $31 million.

“We are very excited about the new building,” said Klein Center Administrator Ann Abolt. “It will allow us to improve the household model we have already started. Elders make decisions about how they live, such as when they get up and go to bed, what they eat and what they do during the day. Our goal is to make their lives as homelike as possible.”

The 127,000 square-foot building will look similar to Great River Hospice House, which has high vaulted ceilings, natural light, wood and stone, and soothing earth tones. Beyond the structure, it will feature a new approach to elder care.

Homelike living
The new Klein Center will be divided into 10 households, with names like Apple Tree Lane, Cascade Falls, Heritage Hill, Mississippi Boulevard and Starr’s Hollow. Each household will have a homelike entrance, living room, dining room, activity kitchen for special baking projects, laundry room and 16 private rooms.

All household staff are certified universal workers. Like family members at home, they help elders with their needs, including activities, housekeeping, nutrition and personal care. Staff members also eat with elders and share family experiences.

“Elders living in households are happier,” said Abolt. “I believe it’s because, besides having their needs met, they are part of a family. Some elders who did not come out of their rooms for activities are participating now. With a smaller group, it’s not so overwhelming for them. Also, elders rarely use their call lights because our staff has learned to anticipate their needs. That is a great thing.”

Two households comprise a neighborhood. Besides three long-term-stay neighborhoods, there will be memory-care and short-term-care neighborhoods.

The Klein Center’s main entrance will be called Town Center, which will resemble a public square. It will hold a café, chapel, hair-care shop, large community room, library, main office, restorative gym and store.

The main kitchen will be on the lower level. There also will be a garage to improve shuttle transportation during inclement weather. Elders will be transported to Great River Medical Center and physicians’ offices by shuttle.

Timing is right
Planning for the new center began a few years ago, but was delayed when the economic downturn began. It is expected to open in spring 2013.

“This is the right time to build our new Klein Center,” said Mark Richardson, president and CEO, Great River Health Systems. “As the need for long-term care increases, we’ll be ready with the type of services people want and expect.”

The existing Klein Center is nearly 50 years old and requires major renovations. Named after its benefactor, F. Albert Klein, it opened as a rehabilitation hospital in 1963. It became part of Great River Health Systems in 1975. The health system is committed to helping find a new use for the building.