• 100,000: Square footage of the new Health and Rehabilitation Center
• 133:Total beds, 114 regular and 19 memory care
• 7: "Neighborhoods" arranged in the new center, each home to 19 rooms, a kitchen and sitting room
• $23 million: Cost of the new center. Alexian's three-phase expansion is expected to cost $32 million.
Source: Alexian Brothers Health and Rehabilitation Center
When Margie Pendergrass wheeled her 96-year-old mother through the doors of Alexian Village's new Health and Rehabilitation Center on Tuesday, the first thing she noticed was just how little it felt like a nursing home.
The floors are carpeted or imitation wood. The lighting is soft, and nurses' stations are tucked behind white-paned windows.
"It feels like you are walking into a fine hotel, doesn't it?" Pendergrass said, leaning down to her mother, Margaret Daniel. "Isn't this beautiful?"
Both had been eagerly waiting to see the inside of what will be Daniel's new home, having watched the construction of Alexian's new Health and Rehabilitation Center since its groundbreaking two years ago - shortly after Daniel moved into the old nursing home at the Signal Mountain site.
The new facility is the culmination of a 10 year planning process and a two-year build. Alexian officials cut the ribbon for the $23 million facility Tuesday, after priests went through and blessed every floor.
The new Alexian health center is the first skilled nursing facility in the region that has been designed around what is called "person-centered care" - creating a home-like environment more conducive to independence.
"The goal is to deinstitutionalize the feeling of senior care," said Kim Goodwin, spokeswoman for Alexian.
That means the building has been designed around "neighborhoods." Each neighborhood has 19 rooms that are either fully private or shared suites.
That change was a welcome one for Daniel, who has had six roommates over her time in the health center and is craving her own space. When her daughter wheeled her into one of the new suites - with her own room - she was quiet until she said that she was about to cry.
"I am so thrilled I can't even think," said Daniel.
Instead of one big dining room, neighborhoods feature smaller kitchens where residents can make requests and dine in more family-like clusters.
There's also a dining room, a living room with a hearth, parlor, sunroom and laundry area.
The person-centered care model also means that residents have more control over their own schedule and routines, like when to eat or bathe, explained Kathy Liebnow, executive assistant to Alexian's CEO.
"We want to get people off the strict timeline that can be typical of nursing facilities," she said.
The new facility also has a large physical and occupational therapy center, and one floor devoted solely to memory care.
A private room at the new facility will cost $250 per day, while a shared suite will cost $210, said Liebnow.
Because of the number of people transferring from Alexian's current nursing home, the facility is already nearly full, she explained.
After residents move in at the end of this month, Alexian will start preparations to convert the current nursing facility into independent living apartments.
Contact staff writer Kate Harrison at email@example.com or 423-757-6673.