Fourteen years after the Midway Nursing Home Task Force incorporated, proponents finally will see ground broken Tuesday for The Homeplace, a $13.5 million "senior living community."
It is billed as Kentucky's first "Green House" community, a trademarked term for a place where seniors live in groups of 10 to 12 people per cottage rather than the more institutional model of traditional nursing homes.
As it turned out, the twists and turns in getting to this groundbreaking made the project better than if it had gone forward without hiccups, said Keith Knapp, president and chief executive officer of Christian Care Communities, the Louisville-based company that will operate The Homeplace.
"I'm sure it would have been very nice, but it would not be nearly as novel as this now is going to be," Knapp said. "Sometimes you thank God for unanswered prayers."
When it was proposed, The Homeplace was to go on donated land next to what is now the Midway industrial park off Interstate 64. But when Blue Grass Stockyards talked in 2006 of relocating to that park, potential management companies didn't think they could attract residents who would want to live near bawling cattle. (Christian Care Communities also began expressing interest in the project in 2006.)
In 2007, Midway College announced that The Homeplace was going to be on its campus. But had that happened, "we would never have been able to grow without buying more land," Knapp said.
As it turned out, a 31-acre site across the street from the college became available, and that is where Tuesday's 2 p.m. groundbreaking will be. The site at 617 East Stephens Street, known as Galtee Farm, was purchased in 2010.
Meanwhile, Versailles now has a new senior living center called Daisy Hill that opened March 1 on Crossfield Drive. It has 45 residential suites, with plans for "independent villas" and a "memory care" section for dementia patients. Versailles also has Taylor Manor, a skilled-nursing facility operated under the auspices of the Sisters of St. Joseph the Worker.
The Homeplace was financed in part through a program to improve health-care access in towns of less than 20,000 residents. The Homeplace received a $11.5 million low-interest loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In addition, a little more than $2 million was raised privately from nearly 600 gifts, Knapp said.
Construction will start in earnest in June, and The Homeplace should be finished during the last half of 2014, Knapp said. When it opens initially with two skilled nursing cottages for 23 residents, The Homeplace will employ about 28.
When it is fully built with space for 47 residents, it will have four cottages and employ about 52 people, Knapp said. In addition to the skilled-nursing cottages, it will have a 12-bed "memory care" cottage for people in early to mid-stages of Alzheimer's and other dementias, and a 12-bed apartment building for assisted living.
Knapp described the "Green House" concept this way: "People who have been around long enough to remember The Waltons on TV — it's a very Waltonian model. The day's activities all occur in an open country kitchen/living room design, and the bedrooms are really for sleeping."
The Green House concept also "affords the opportunity for staff and residents to really develop deeper relationships than they typically can in a more traditional nursing home setting," Knapp said.
As a result, turnover in staff tends to be less than in a traditional nursing home setting, he said.
Midway made sense as a location for Christian Care Communities. The company and college are affiliated with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). The college is known for its nursing school, and its students will benefit from the clinical setting of the nursing home.
"The school of nursing would have a lab like no one else has for their geriatrics rotation," Knapp said. Meanwhile, "virtually anybody who lives at The Homeplace will be considered a student at Midway College, if they choose to be."
It will be similar to the Donovan Fellows program, formerly known as Donovan Scholars, that the University of Kentucky offers as enrichment to seniors. "You could sit in on a lecture or a course or even enroll in a degree-granting program," Knapp said.
Meanwhile, construction proceeds on another Christian Care Communities facility in northern Jessamine County called Ashgrove Woods. That will open in late summer east of Brannon Crossing. The $30 million project will have 36 memory care beds and 36 assisted senior-care beds, said Mary Lynn Spalding, vice president of home and community based services for Christian Care Communities.
IF YOU GO
Groundbreaking for The Homeplace of Midway
When: 2 p.m. April 9
Where: 671 East Stephens St., across from Midway College
Greg Kocher: (859) 231-3305. Twitter: @HLpublicsafety.