Ooltewah senior center to double size

Ooltewah senior center to double size

June 15th, 2011 by Ellis Smith in Business Around the Region

AT A GLANCE

Owner: Life Care Centers of America

Purpose: The company is building a two-story nursing facility and three-story assisted living facility on Snow Hill Road.

Occupancy: More than 220 beds

Size: 174,685 square feet

Staff: More than 250 employees

What's next: The Health Services and Development Agency is expected to consider whether to grant a certificate of need for the facility in July:

Source: Life Care Centers of America, Health Services and Development Agency

Life Care Centers of America is moving forward on a plan to construct a $41 million nursing and assisted living facility on Snow Hill Road in Ooltewah.

Initial estimates pegged the facility's cost at $21 million, but the addition of a three-story assisted living home will nearly double the size and cost, said Life Care President Beecher Hunter.

"It's a wonderful site and a good opportunity for us to provide senior services for that growing section of Hamilton County," he said. "The demographics and the way that area's going, we think it's underserved as far as senior services are concerned."

Hunter said tentative plans are to complete the nursing facility by late 2012 after breaking ground in the spring of that year. The first phase is a two-story nursing home that will contain 120 beds, employ about 200 workers in a 83,000 square-foot edifice, he said.

"Those buildings will be state of the art when completed, similar to the Lifecare Center in Hixson," Hunter said. "They will be similar to that in the amenities, functionality and attractive homelike setting."

The second phase of construction, the assisted-living home, will add another 100 units and 91,685 square feet, he said. The home will also employ another 50 staffers, for a total of 250 employees supervising more than 220 occupants.

The expansions into Hixson and Ooltewah follow a 2009 incident where state regulators found numerous state violations at Life Care's 153-bed Orchard Knob nursing home, which was "something unusual that's never happened to us before," Hunter said. "We've been in business for 41 years; we've never had an experience like that."

After losing its access to federal Medicaid funding, Life Care gave the closed 59,000-square-foot facility to Hamilton County for office space.

"I think with any of us, personally or professionally, how we take adversity and deal with it says a lot about the character of an individual or a company," Hunter said. "We believe it's not healthy for an organization to sit still and try to maintain the status quo. We think there's a freshness and vitality that comes from growth opportunities that make sense."