That’s because the 60-bed nursing home, built in 1980 on North Broad Street in Elkhorn, will undergo a major facelift, something that officials found necessary in responding to changing trends in the senior living industry. Their hope is to keep Holton Manor competitive in the marketplace and create a better environment for residents and employees.
The nonprofit facility is in the early stages of a $7.2 million remodeling project that will more than double its physical footprint and includes the purchase of the historic Holton House — which also requires renovating — and a small chunk of land from the city of Elkhorn.
Reconstruction will maintain most of the current exterior shell of the complex but involves renovating the interior. The facility also will extend farther north and west, providing a more residential feel to an addition that will surround the current structure on three sides. That also moves the main entrance to Church Street and makes the driveway/parking loop more accessible for emergency purposes.
It’s been a two-year rollercoaster of on-again, off-again planning and negotiating — and dreaming. Administrator Heather Bartell is an East Troy resident who has worked for Wisconsin Illinois Senior Housing for 14 years, the last four at Holton Manor.
“At one point we decided that we would just add a memory care unit on the south end and remodel it into about 10 private rooms, but the city didn’t approve,” Bartell said. “A big problem is that we’re landlocked, but building and starting new somewhere else would have doubled the cost, and there was no way we could do that. We have a real need for memory care, and when they put the kibosh on that, we were at a standstill.”
But last summer the Holton House and its three acres of land became available, and officials have been working since then to get final approval from the city, which was granted in September.
The new blueprint will feature private rooms, 14 in the memory care neighborhood, 17 rehabilitation suites and 29 long-term care rooms. Holton Manor currently has only two private rooms.
“It’s been a long, grueling process,” Bartell said. “We’re going to try and do this in two phases, moving the residents with as little disruption as possible ... ”
Darin Duvall has been the manor’s maintenance director for more than five years. He knows the process will be disruptive at times, but he is confident that all parties will welcome the changes.
“This is a 30-year-old building that takes a lot of work to keep running, especially with old equipment,” Duvall said. “There will be issues learning new technology and a new building, but it will be fun and interesting. And from an environmental standpoint, it will be a big upgrade because we’ll have the same number of residents but double the space, which will have four different households and be much quieter.
“We will have updated calling systems and updated everything, so our nurses and CNAs can be more efficient in their jobs,” Duvall added. “The way I always put it to people is that we’ve been deficiency-free for four years and have a five-star rating. Now we’ll have a five-star facility to go along with it. It will be a long nine months, but in the end it will be worth it.”
Bartell agreed, saying that the renovations should put Holton Manor way ahead of the curve, especially with an aging population in need of more specialized care, and will mean additional employees.
“We have residents in early and later stages of Alzheimer’s and dementia, so everybody here is trained so they can handle and provide the best possible care for these people,” Bartell said, emphasizing the advantages they will gain through the new memory care unit. “We have staff who have a passion for geriatrics care and are the shining stars in taking care of these patients.”
Heather Lang is director of nursing and oversees about a dozen or so nurses and 35 to 40 CNAs.
“The residents can’t wait to get more space and have more privacy,” Lang said. “Right now we have four people sharing bathrooms and showers. It will give us smaller patient-to-staff workloads.”
The therapy room will quadruple in size, and the project features a therapy pool with treadmill, technology and space that will keep patients onsite and help prevent residents from losing any physical gains they’ve made. The pool also may be rented to outside groups or for outpatient therapy for added revenue.
Myjak is looking forward to many of the project’s new offerings, which could include peritoneal dialysis or a pediatric therapy center in the Holton House.
“They will have a theater, there will be a chapel so residents can have small services or private time for prayer,” she said. “We will have private rooms with bathrooms and showers, and there will be much more room for physical therapy. There will be a kitchen in every area, and there will be a lot more light.
“This project means more jobs and people from the community coming into the building,” Myjak said. “The new space will make it much easier and better for the staff. I can’t believe it. It’s wonderful for everybody.”
Bartell said that transitions always are tough but that positive vibes have permeated the complex and should continue through the target completion date sometime in July.
“Residents and their families are looking for these rehab services and the amenities, so we’ve lost a lot of referrals and it’s been much more of a struggle for us the past two or three years,” Bartell said. “The residents know about the construction plans and are super excited. We’ve talked to all of them, we’ve posted information around the facility and we’ve sent letters to all of the families. It’s what they deserve.
“And I’m interested to see residents make successful strides and how this will enhance their lives,” Bartell added. “Giving residents and staff the space will give them all an opportunity to grow. Pinch me … I can’t believe it’s finally here. The staff is pumped up, and everybody is excited.”