Labor of Love

Young couple reopens

assisted living home

By Samantha Tengelitsch

KALKASKA – An assisted living home reopened last year by Dignity Home Health Care is a labor of love for president and CEO Nathan Moore.

Moore's uncle was involved in a low-speed automobile collision in 2008, resulting in significant damage to his neck, including a break and compression of his spinal cord.

After a lengthy hospitalization, Moore's uncle was moved to 24-hour home care, with two or more aides assisting his uncle in a single day.

The inconsistency in care began to bother Moore.

"We were always training new people and it was agitating to (my uncle) because he couldn't focus on his recovery," he recalled.

His uncle eventually asked the family to take over his care, and Moore, who has a business background, began to formulate a plan.

"I saw a good opportunity to start a company to take care of him and offer the same services to other families," he said.

In 2009, Moore launched Dignity Home Health Care, LLC with the help of a nurse and 12 aides.

"I put everything I had into that," Moore said. "I was there to be an advocate to my uncle and to make sure he got what he wanted in a safe, stable environment."

By 2010, Moore, a certified medical case manager, focused his efforts on long-term care in an assisted living environment for patients like his uncle.

"SonShine (Village Assisted Living) came on the market that same week and we jumped on it," he said.

Dwen and Ruth Bontrager had operated SonShine for more than 22 years.

After purchasing the home, Moore and his partner Megan Witt, went to work making improvements to the building, adding a wheelchair lift and greater accessibility to bathrooms for residents confined to a wheelchair.

"We're not set up like a nursing home," said Moore of the large, farm-style house. "We're a family and we treat everyone like one. We advocate for what they want and need, and provide basic home care."

Included is medication management, meal preparation and laundry – even dementia care. Dignity also provides daily physical fitness, memory-boosting social activities, group trips, and safety measures, including wireless personal call buttons.

While the house, located just outside Kalkaska, was built to serve as an assisted-living facility licensed for 12 individuals, Moore hopes to maintain a resident population of six, so that each can enjoy a private room. Currently, there are five residents in their care at SonShine.

Dignity accepts Medicare, Medicaid, long-term care insurance, along with Veterans benefits and Blue Cross/Blue Shield. Moore's main focus, however, is Michigan's no-fault law, which provides insurance benefits to those involved in automobile accidents. (If a person driving in a vehicle registered within the State of Michigan is involved in an auto-related accident, that individual is entitled to personal injury protection ("PIP" benefits.)

"Michigan is the only state left with the no-fault law and for a person like my uncle, who didn't have insurance, his care is covered for the rest of his life," Moore said. "Many families aren't aware that it's there. It's a huge benefit."

While helping his uncle was the impetus for launching the business, today Moore is an advocate for others, offering consistency in care that allows people to focus on recovery.

"It's about enjoying their life, not worrying about whether they're getting their meds on time, or getting to their doctor's appointment," Moore said. "That's our job."

Moore and his partner Megan Witt are working on obtaining their Certified Evaluated Nursing Assistant (CENA) credentials.

They, along with their 15-month-old son, Mayson, are frequently at the facility, doing what they can to support the residents.

"We're together all the time," Moore said.

For more information about SonShine Village Assisted Living, visit www.sonshineafc.com or call 231.258.3402. An open house will be held Saturday, June 9 from 1-4 p.m.

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