Pledges from several groups, including the Mary K. Oxley Foundation, the Woodford Health Foundation and two Midway churches, will help push the Homeplace project to completion. Organizers also posed with a ceremonial check for loan totaling about $11.4 million from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), to promote health care in rural areas. Left to right are Bill Nave from the office of U.S. Rep. Ben Chandler (D-Ky.), State Rept. Carl Rollins, Dr. Barbara Kitchen of Midway College, Midway nursing home task force member Helen Rentch, Marie Smart, Christian Care Communities CEO Dr. Keith Knapp, Tom Fern with the USDA, Midway College interim president Dr. Robert Vogel, and Vernon Brown. (Photo by Stephen Burnett)
By Stephen Burnett
On Thursday, Midway College leaders, Christian Care Communities staff and local officials said they were very glad to announce the completion of private fundraising for The Homeplace at Midway, presented as a next-generation elder-care facility to be built near Midway college.
That project has been years in the works, starting with an effort by several Midway residents on a nursing home task force. They were recognized late Thursday morning at the college’s Marrs Hall, along with many organizations that had pledged funds toward the project — likely enough, according to Christian Care Communities CEO Dr. Keith Knapp, to break ground by this spring.
Fundraising recently reached about $1.5 million given by about 500 people and groups, about 75 percent of what the organization requires, Knapp said. Now Christian Care needs to raise about $400,000 before building, and hopes to obtain that amount by this year’s end. Leaders specifically thanked the Mary K. Oxley Foundation for its $300,000 matching challenge, and the Woodford Health Foundation and Midway Presbyterian Church for each pledging $50,000. Before the event was over, two others had stepped forward with checks: the Disciples Women of Midway Christian Church, and the nursing home task force that began the whole effort.
Also helping to close the gap will be a loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development program, a loan totaling $11,407,900 at 3.7 percent interest, Knapp explained.
The Homeplace at Midway represents a new way of providing health care for the elderly, said Keith Knapp, CEO of Christian Care Communities. That nonprofit group, based in Louisville and affiliated with the Disciples of Christ denomination, plans to build a five-building facility across the road from Midway College, to house up to 23 residents. (Photo by Stephen Burnett)
“This is going to be Kentucky’s first Green House campus,” for elder care, he said. “(It’s) a very innovative kind of approach that’s only really been tried at this level by Oberlin College and Ithaca College, and so we’re modeling it a little bit after the successes that they’ve had there.”
Conventional nursing homes are more like institutions, with separate rooms for residents along hallways, similar to hospitals. But the Green House model — though it makes people think of flowers, Knapp later quipped — is very different. Elderly residents live in small subdivided houses, with nurses and health-care providers in another office building, providing on-site care.
Midway’s facility would first accept up to 48 people, with possible later expansion, Knapp said.
That innovative approach has proved challenging to market, Knapp said, but according to him and leaders of Midway College, the rewards will be great for area residents and students alike.
Christian Care Communities, like Midway College, is affiliated with the Disciples of Christ.
“We’re so pleased that we could have this (near) our campus,” said Dr. Robert Vogel, interim president of Midway College. “We’ve been in serious conversations with you people for more than five years, as you looked for a site. At one time actually thought about maybe using some of our property. But as often happens with plans as they develop, even better plans emerge.”
Thanks to the future facility’s proximity to the college, Midway College nursing students will be able to put their learning into practice just across the road. It will be a laboratory for learning and a way for senior residents and students to build relationships with each other, many said.
“Nursing students will have the opportunity to learn and utilize the Green House model of care through clinical experience and servant-leadership projects,” said Dr. Barbara Kitchen, nursing division chair. “Because of these experiences, Midway College nursing students, graduates and faculty will be leaders in changing the way the nation cares for its oldest citizens.”
The facility will also be certified for the federal programs Medicare and Medicaid, making it the first such senior-care facility within Woodford County, Knapp said.
Local residents will also be happy to know about potential economic development, he added. “We’re going to be creating 42 jobs here in Woodford County, and these are good jobs that aren’t going to Mexico or the Pacific Rim,” Knapp said with a laugh. “Once they’re here, they’re here.” That will pump about $1.7 million of revenues into the local economy every year, raising Midway’s annual city taxbase by about $33,000 and Woodford County’s by about $25,000.
“This is a great day for our community, and it’s been a long time coming,” Midway Mayor Tom Bozarth said. “With this nursing home task force, and their will and their passion for something, it’s just like the little engine that could. And now we did. So my hat’s off to you all.
“And this means a lot to our community, not only economically … but the social part of it,” the mayor went on. “It’s our families that we have lost in the last seven or eight years. … This facility would have been a good place for them. And going forward, we now have a place that they can call home and stay at home.”
In Knapp’s view, finding a better way than nursing homes to care for seniors matters most.
“Probably bigger than the project itself is the opportunity that we have as Christian Care to really change the face of elder care in the Commonwealth of Kentucky,” Knapp said. “This is very exciting for me as a gerontologist. … I’m just convicted, after 30 years in this industry, this is just a better way of caring for people of any age, but especially our elders.
“All of the things that we measure to try to get our hands around the idea of quality long-term care — which, sadly, is the absence of bad things, falls that result in industry, psychotropic drugs for behavior management, infections, hospitalization and re-hospitalization — these are all measures that we track to try to rank who are the good guys and who are the mediocre players,” Knapp continued. “Well, they all improve by double-digit percentage points in this model. And that’s one of the reasons that we’re so interested to try to pursue it.
“We work in an industry that has a horrific track record for employee turnover,” he said later. “Last year, America’s nursing homes turned over care-giving staff an estimated 83 percent. In the ones that are open longer than a year, Green House model (figures are) 9 percent.”