Increased demand fueling expansion at South Milwaukee nursing home
Willowcrest Care Center in South Milwaukee is adding a 20-bed, $2.3 million, sub-acute and rehabilitation wing to its 91-bed nursing home. The addition is needed to meet the growing demands for elderly rehabilitation services, Willowcrest officials said.
The nursing home, located at 3821 S. Chicago Ave., currently has 44 beds for sub-acute and rehabilitation care.
"Those beds are constantly filled," said Bill Andrews, admissions director for the nursing home. "We’ve been running at capacity for the last several years."
The addition will serve elderly people staying at the nursing home for a short time, usually a few weeks, to recover from an illness or injury. Those residents typically are recovering after being in the hospital.
"It’s a kind of stopping-off place between the hospital and home," said Elaine Dyer, executive director and administrator for the nursing home.
The increased demand for those services at Willowcrest is driven by the growing elderly population in the southern portion of metropolitan Milwaukee, the aging of the baby boom generation, the closing of the Lincoln Lutheran Care Center in Racine and government incentives to keep elderly people living at home longer, Dyer said.
The new addition also will include two bariatric suites with larger rooms, doorways and beds for residents who weigh more than 400 pounds and have difficulty moving around.
Willowcrest Care Center is owned by Extendicare Health Services, based in Milwaukee. Extendicare operates 277 long-term care facilities in the United States and Canada, including 35 in Wisconsin. Extendicare’s facilities have a combined capacity for 29,175 residents.
Construction of the Willowcrest addition started in June and is expected to be completed April 1, 2004.
The addition will provide about 12,000 square feet of new space for the 20 beds and another 12,000 square feet of basement space for storage and mechanical rooms. The existing nursing home has about 38,000 square feet of space.
PDC Midwest Inc., based in Hartland, is the general contractor and architect for the project. PDC Midwest also built an addition to the nursing home and a separate assisted living facility on the property in 1997.
"Extendicare is a long-time client of ours," said Bob Gummer, president of PDC Midwest, which specializes in the development of senior care facilities. "We’ve done a number of buildings for them."
Willowcrest Care Center was built in 1970 with 47 beds to provide long-term care.
About 20 additional employees will be hired to provide adequate staffing for the new acute and rehabilitation wing, Andrews said. The new employees will include nurses, certified nursing assistants, dietary aides, cooks, a social worker and housekeeping staff.
The addition will provide a private room for each bed. Each room will be equipped with a walk-in shower, telephone, cable television and either a VCR or DVD player, Dyer said. The new wing also will include a separate dining room.
The building addition is designed to comfort residents and will include homey touches such as warm interior colors, Gummer said.
"It will have a residential character, as opposed to the institutional character people tend to associate with a nursing home," he said.
The nursing home’s residents are primarily from South Milwaukee, Oak Creek, Cudahy, St. Francis, Racine and the south side of Milwaukee.
Willowcreek has been forced to refer some patients to other Extendicare facilites for acute and rehabilitation services because the nursing home is not large enough to accommodate them all, Dyer said.
The addition will help Willowcreek keep more residents near their homes, where they can enjoy frequent visits from nearby family members and friends, Dyer said.
"I think that’s what helps the healing process," she said.
Oct. 17. 2003 Small Business Times, Milwaukee