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County nursing home gets a new look

January 03, 2003|by STACEY DANZUSO

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - In the lobby of the Falling Spring Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, residents and their visitors lounge in couches and arm chairs admiring the fireplace.

The soft pinks and blues of the furniture and the polished hardwood floor doesn't seem like the typical entrance to a sterile nursing environment.

But the welcoming lobby is one of several changes incorporated into a $350,000 renovation of the county-owned facility on Franklin Farm Lane completed last month.

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The thought behind the project, which also included new wainscoting and handrails color-coded for each wing, new office space and a new dining area, began in 1998.

"This year we had the major renovation inside with the demolition of D-wing and the lobby," said Jackie Chechowitz, nursing home administrator.

She said the cozy new lobby is a great place for residents to go sit with their families and get out of their rooms and watch a fire "burn" in the fireplace - it's actually a simulation of a fire but it looks remarkably real and even gives off some heat.

"It's more homey, which is what we wanted," she said.

Some of the renovations were required, others simply improved the look of the facility and customer service.

"The handrails were necessary. The (aluminum) type we had were not in compliance with regulations and had to be changed," Chechowitz said.

Turning the 16 beds in D-wing into administrative offices allowed the relocation of the finance offices from the basement to the main floor where the department can be paired with case management.

"This has always been designed around customer services," said Jim Faust, finance director. "In the last couple of years care planning, nursing and finance duties have combined. By bringing us up here, we work with other components and can see residents directly."

Renovating a four-bed room in F-wing into a small cafeteria keeps the residents in that wing, who typically come straight from the hospital, from making the long walk to the main dining room, Chechowitz said.

This gives residents a better option than just eating in their rooms.

Each wing also has its own color handrails, which allows residents to easily identify their wing.

Employee Kim Fitzsimmons picked out soft, soothing colors like teal, mauve and blue and matched them to curtains and bedspreads for each wing, Chechowitz said.

The 198-bed facility is owned and operated by Franklin County. The renovations were paid for by a joint grant through the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania and Pennsylvania's Department of Public Welfare in return for the facility decertifying 20 beds, she said.

Facilities in the state were asked to declassify beds because there was not enough staff to provide services. The 20 slots in Franklin County's nursing home have shifted to community-based services operated by the Area Agency on Aging that offer programs like meal delivery to allow elderly residents to remain in their homes longer, Chechowitz said.

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