New Martinsburg center has 'focus on living'

March 08, 1999

Outlook PointeBy BRYN MICKLE / Staff Writer, Martinsburg

photo: RIC DUGAN / staff photographer

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - At first glance, it is easy to mistake Outlook Pointe for a hotel.

Which is exactly the point, said the assisted-living community's director, Nancy L. Higgs.

With its soft-toned decor and warm home-style furnishings, Outlook Pointe is a far cry from the antiseptic images some might conjure up when they hear the term "nursing home."

"This is different from a nursing home. We focus on living. A nursing home is where you go to die," said Higgs.


The Mechanicsburg, Pa.-based Balanced Care Corp. opened Outlook Pointe in January as an alternative for people who are capable of living on their own but could use a little help, said Higgs.

Tucked behind a subdivision off Rock Cliff Drive in Martinsburg, Outlook Pointe has 64 "suites" that range in price from $63 to $74 per day.

The building is divided into two "neighborhoods," each with its own mailboxes, laundry facilities and pantries to give the 14 residents an added sense of home, said Higgs.

Residents eat in a restaurant-style dining room and are encouraged to participate in everything from exercise classes and Bingo to meditation and gardening classes, she said.

The average Outlook Pointe resident is a woman in her early eighties who takes about six medications and needs assistance with three daily living activities, said Higgs.

The community also offers an aspect of 24-hour safety and security that residents might not get if they lived on their own, said Higgs.

Each bathroom is equipped with a quick-response emergency button, and residents wear a wireless pendant that can be used to summon a staff member for anything from a fall to the need for help buttoning a dress.

Virginia Mason, better known as Ginny Miss to those around Outlook Pointe, said she loves her Martinsburg home but does not have the same sense of security as she does in the assisted living community.

"Night and day, I don't have a worry. It would break my heart if I had to leave," said Mason.

Most residents, said Higgs, stay at Outlook Pointe for an average of two to four years.

"When someone gets to the point where they need total care, then they need a nursing home," said Higgs.

The Martinsburg site is Balanced Care Corp.'s first West Virginia endeavor. The company operates similar facilities in Arkansas, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Missouri, North Carolina, Florida and Virginia.

Pleased with the reception Outlook Pointe has gotten in Martinsburg, the company plans to open a similar community in Hagerstown in June.

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