Assisted living will fill need in Kalkaska

KALKASKA – A new, $20 million project in Kalkaska will help meet the needs of area seniors.

Ground has been broken on the two-story structure located at the southwest corner of the village. The licensed, assisted living facility will feature a 'streetscape' design on the first floor that includes a library, beauty shop, spa, and dining and activities room. The project is part of Kalkaska Memorial Health Center's plan to create a "continuum of care" community that will include senior wellness programs, adult day care and senior low income housing.

"This is designed so that a person can 'age in place,' meaning as a person becomes more frail, additional services can be added," according to Administrator Jim Austin.

A new outpatient services building, including a dialysis center, has been built and is already in operation. It is located next to the assisted living project and is one of few places in the state where the two are located together, according to Austin.

"Our residents will have complete care from a professional staff including social workers, nurses and doctors and having a dialysis center right next door is wonderful and so convenient," Austin said.

Traverse City architect Rick Skendzel of Architecture Technology designed the floor plan of the facility to have an open feel, including a great room where residents can have gatherings and socialize.

"As one ages, the ability to socialize becomes difficult. Our residents will have open spaces, cafes, places to meet…and this project will allow an apartment-like living experience," Austin added.

Phase one of the project should be completed by next summer.

Phase two includes adding more rooms, a theatre/chapel and a commercial laundry. Additional phases of the assisted living project are planned.

"Senior citizens will no longer have to leave the Kalkaska area and seek out a licensed home for the aged facility. This facility will give senior autonomy and choices,"Austin said.

Three years ago, the Kalkaska Memorial Health Center board authorized the hiring of a consultant to find out the necessity of an assisted living facility. The report stated that there was a need for about 80 units in the area and recommended that the hospital build half of them.

According to the hospital, the project, when full, will add 10-15 jobs in Kalkaska.

Verna McColley, who is compiling a list of interested residents for the hospital says "several people who have inquired are very enthusiastic and have expressed that they are excited about this and it now gives them a chance to bring their parents closer to home."

For information regarding the facility, contact McColley at (231) 258-7781. BN