Luther Haven renovations on the horizon

Danae Milbrandt
Montevideo American-News

Luther Haven is in the process of securing financing for an ambitious building project that will not only update the skilled nursing and rehabilitation facility, but will change the entire look and feel of the building.

According to Justin Hughes, administrator of Luther Haven, the project will happen in phases and is set to begin in early 2021 and last approximately three years. According to Hughes, the architect for the project is HGA, and the construction manager is McGough.

“Construction documents have been completed, and in the coming weeks we will be working with McGough on the bidding process and selecting contractors,” said Hughes. “Our goal is to keep the project as local as possible, and we are excited to start our project soon!”

Luther Haven is currently a 90-bed nursing and rehabilitation facility, with 86 private rooms with private bathrooms, and two double rooms with a shared bathroom. The facility has been in operation for 57 years, with the original building dating back to 1962, and with additions from 1973, 1974, and 1991. Connected to Luther Haven is the Copper Glen Assisted Living facility.

After the original portion of Luther Haven was constructed in 1962, sequential constructs were added, and utilities stemming from the original 1962 building were added on to, again and again.

“The capacity of the original utilities was never intended for the size of the building that it has now grown to, which leads to various problems,” Hughes explained. “The existing infrastructure and the space available for utilities are not capable of supporting the upgrades needed to bring the mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems up to modern standards. As such, a new addition is planned to contain a new utility plant that can support the building, both the needs today and the flexibility the future demands.”

Additionally, the existing portion of the building to remain is planned to be extensively renovated, so all systems throughout the building will be cohesive.

Many of the residents of Luther Haven were born and raised in Montevideo, and as such there is a deep sense of community, and a dedication by its staff to serve its community and their families.

“Luther Haven would like to make an investment in their facility so that their community can continue to live and be cared for in their hometown. They see this as vitally important when so many residents have family and friends from the community that regularly visit and volunteer at the care center. This project will allow Luther Haven to elevate their standard of care and continue offering long-term care, short-term care, rehabilitation services, and assisted-living services,” said Hughes.

The new building is set to be organized around a new community center with a covered entry-canopy, a lobby, reception area, large-gathering group space, an activities room, conference rooms, a bistro, salon and barber, an exam room, therapy, and administrative offices.

“The new entry and overall building layout are designed to have a stronger presence from the street and more intuitive wayfinding,” Hughes said. He continued, explaining that the current entrance in the existing building is unsubstantial and difficult to find.

The new building will also include a neighborhood of 40 residents on either side of the community center, which will be divided into groups of 20. In addition, each household will have its own dedicated staff, so stronger relationships between residents and staff can evolve.

Hughes said, “Each neighborhood has all the necessary programs for daily functions, including living rooms, dining rooms, tub rooms, soiled and clean utility areas, clean supplies and linens, a nursing station, medication room, and staff and visitor restrooms.”

According to Hughes, the household model represents a significant shift in the care model for Luther Haven, with a culture change that will empower both residents and staff to have more choice and greater satisfaction in their space.

“This starts at the resident rooms,” he said. “All resident rooms but one will be private rooms, with private bathrooms. The double room will be a split double room with a partition between the two residents. Overall the rooms will be over 100 square feet larger in size than existing rooms so that residents so residents have a safe and private place that is their own.”

Bathrooms will also be configured with direct access and visibility from the resident bed, so the residents are better able to use the restroom independently.

Another amenity offered by the renovations include spaces within the rooms and alcoves outside the residents’ doors that will give them opportunities to personalize their space with their belongings. Nurse servers at each room will have space for supplies, medications, and soiled linens, putting necessary supplies where staff can access them to reduce step-counts and allow more face-to-face interaction with the residents. In addition, there will also be two overnight guest suites that will be able to be used by family members.

Another improvement made by the renovation will be common areas within the household that have been designed to a scale more like home, explained Hughes. “They aren’t overly large and overwhelming as in the current layout. Open activity kitchens will be used for serving, and will allow residents to interact and help with meal preparation. The kitchens double as activity space, so that in-between meals, residents and their family can bake. Finishes and lighting throughout the building were also selected to have a residential appearance to further support the household model.”

Each neighborhood in the model will have a designated entrance that will establish a hierarchy of public to private space, from the main entry at the community center, the neighborhood entries, and the household common areas, to the resident room.   

“Residents can feel more ownership over a space that is theirs, and staff can effectively monitor who is coming and going,” said Hughes.

He continued, adding that the building is designed to have a stronger connection to the outdoors so that residents have access to both views and natural lighting, and each neighborhood will have an enclosed patio space that residents can freely and safely go to whenever they please.     

“They are located so that staff can easily monitor the residents through both visibility and technology.   

“An entry canopy and porch space at the main entry are a place to gather and see who is coming and going,” he continued, “while the back courtyard off the community center has a garden and walking paths.”     

When the project was initially proposed, staff, residents, and community members were involved in the early stages of planning to establish goals that would guide the design of a new, reformed care center. The goals establish benchmarks that aided in the decision-making process, and include:

• Increased resident satisfaction: providing more access to natural light and creating universal spaces and equipment so that care is consistent throughout the building, in addition to providing private bathrooms, increasing resident safety, and providing consistency in care.

• Increased staff satisfaction: reducing staff travel times by locating supplies and equipment where it’s needed most, providing quiet charting and MD areas, improving the medication distribution process through the use of nurse servers, and providing places for staff respite so they are able to feel more energized and engaged.

• Improved family and visitor experience: creating more space for family visits, increasing the privacy of the chapel, and providing a canopy and automatic doors at the entry for safer drop-offs.

• Increased staff efficiency: reducing travel distances and access to equipment, supplies, hospital, and residents so that staff can spend more time building relationships with residents.

• Enhancing the Luther Haven brand: designing an exterior that is more prominent from the street, creating a clearer and designated entry point to improve the entry experience, and improving wayfinding and signage.

• Additional and improved amenities: providing more community and family spaces, a bistro, walking paths, work areas for staff, and adequate space for all necessary functions of daily life.

• Improved access: access to care, access to support, access to public amenities, and access to the community.

• Improved resident outcomes and safety: better lighting, better interior finishes, better building organization and improved visibility to residents and nurse stations, as well as creating more staff time with residents.

All in all, it sounds like Luther Haven has much planned for its residents and staff in the coming months that is going to improve both quality of life, as well as interaction and functionality between its employees and those seeking care within the facility.