$23.5 million personal-care center construction to begin next week

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Natchitoches Community Care Administrator Brian Elias, Marketing Director Wanda Megee and Director of Nursing Dianne Johnson show the design of the new facility Thursday. Gone are long hallways, intercoms and institutional feel replaced by a home themed facility with plenty of natural lighting, real plates, private rooms and baths and convenient access for family members. Photos by Juanice Gray

CommCare changing nursing home look, feel, attitude and operations

Juanice Gray | Editor

D&D Construction

No one wants to be admitted to a nursing home. Well, maybe that isn’t true. CommCare is changing that mentality by fundamentally changing the way a nursing care facility looks, feels and operates. By taking the clinical feel out, including those long “green mile” hallways and designing “homes” that feel more like a hotel or retirement community, patients can retain their autonomy and privacy, while under constant care by medical professionals.

This article published in the May 22-23, 2021, print edition

The institution dynamic is removed and instead, family and caretakers merge to ensure the resident feels at home. CommCare announced Thursday they will build a new 120 bed, 72,000 square foot state-of-the-art facility on 12 acres of land located at 781 La. Hwy. 494. Financing for this facility was not something available into perpetuity. “We had a very short time frame to get this financing put into place otherwise we would have lost it,” Tucker said. “It involves New Market Tax Credits, which is very complicated financing, but is well worth it and allows us to build a facility in Natchitoches.”

Stakeholders attended the announcement by CommCare concerning building a new nursing facility. Representatives of the architect firm KTH, Rick Nowlin with the engineering firm of Delta Consultants, contractors DonahueFavret, Janice Bolton of Bolton Realty, Mayor Ronnie Williams Jr. and CommCare President Jim Tucker met to present the blueprints and artist rendering.

The $23.5 million project will feature four households that will include private rooms with private walk in/roll in showers surrounding a common space for residents, as well as a kitchen, dining areas and living space.

“This puts residents at the center of attention rather than staff,” said Marketing Director Wanda Megee.

One household will be dedicated to rehab for home transitional care and three tailored to long term care residents. Mayor Ronnie Williams Jr. said the facility will be located about 1 mile East of the current Natchitoches Community Care Center on Keyser Avenue. “The City of Natchitoches has entered into a Cooperative Endeavor Agreement with CommCare to provide for cost sharing of the installation of utility infrastructure, including electric, water and sanitary sewer. These improvements will serve CommCare as well as provide for upgrades to the existing infrastructure and accommodate future development in this area,” he said.

The project is expected to create 70-100 construction jobs in the course of a year and will add an additional 30 new jobs once the facility is completed Williams said. “I want to thank CommCare for their decision to build a state-of-the-art facility in Natchitoches so when local residents transition to the facility they will feel like they are home,” he said.

President and CEO of CommCare Management Company Jim Tucker said, “The facility will offer the highest quality of care possible in the entire country.” He said from having a kitchen in each household to a dining area featuring plates, not trays, in an area full of natural lighting, the “household model…is individual service to the Nth degree possible in a nursing home setting.” Each household houses 30 people and is built around a central courtyard. Each household will have a porch area and door that can be accessed by family members who will be given a key fob. Meals will be prepared in the main kitchen and brought to warmers in each household, cafeteria style. Snacks and drinks will be available at all times.

Tucker said by having private rooms and baths, “It is the highest possible structure as related to infection control.” He said the Natchitoches facility was the seventh they are building in the state with two more in the works. He said at the onset of Covid, one facility had just opened and residents moved in. “Covid was virtually contained there,” he said, while at their traditional facilities the Covid rate grew. Tucker addressed the cost of residing in the new facility.

“What we are charging here (the Keyser Avenue facility) we will be charging there,” he said. The patients at the existing facility will be moving unless they choose to go somewhere else according to Tucker.

Ground breaking is expected June 1 with a completion date of Aug. 1, 2022.

For a look into what this facility will look like, visit www.trinitytraceccc.com and view a virtual tour of one of their existing facilities.

Virtual Tour