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Memorial Hospital to Provide Adult Day Services in Mount Washington Valley

February 06, 2018

NORTH CONWAY, NH – Memorial Hospital announced plans to operate a state-of-the-art Adult Day Center in Mount Washington Valley next year, with multiple therapeutic and activity areas providing services to the guests in need of memory care, and respite for their family and caregivers. The Mount Washington Valley Adult Day Center will be located in a 14,000sf facility, to be built in Center Conway off Route 302 near the new Journey Church. The facility will see a ground breaking in spring 2018 and an anticipated opening in summer 2019, pending remaining permits and approvals.

The Mount Washington Valley Adult Day Center will be operated by Memorial Elder Health Services, a subsidiary of Memorial Hospital, under a lease agreement with the Betty C. Ketchum Foundation. Betty Ketchum was a long-time resident of the Merriman House at Memorial Hospital where she received compassionate and skilled nursing care in her later years until her passing.

“We are proud and excited to bring these vital services to the Mount Washington Valley,” stated President & CEO Scott McKinnon. “Memorial Hospital’s Merriman House nursing home has long been known for its quality of care and the Mount Washington Valley Adult Day Center will build on that reputation.” The project was fully supported by both the Memorial Hospital board of trustees and the MaineHealth board of trustees.

McKinnon related that the project has been led by Memorial’s nursing home administrator Sue Ruka, RN, PhD, who earned her doctorate in geriatric care and is recognized as an expert in delivering compassionate elder care in our area. Over the three years this project has been in its research phase, Ruka visited several Adult Day Centers throughout New England and worked closely with a consultant specializing in adult day centers to develop the feasibility study, and has defined the facility, services and programs to be offered. “It is our intention to make this a best in class facility, truly a center of excellence for adult day and memory care services,” stated Ruka.

The Adult Day Center will serve those with memory loss and cognitive and physical limitations. It will provide an array of memory-care services including structured activities, health monitoring, art, music and physical therapy, socialization, and assistance with bathing and activities of daily living to seniors. The plan is to operate five days a week for 10 hours a day Monday – Friday and provide meals and assist with transportation. The program is anticipated to offer affordable rates and potential financial support for participants may come from private family resources, long-term care insurance, veteran’s benefits, Medicaid, state of NH caregiver grants and fundraising efforts.

“The therapeutic activities offered are designed to enhance quality of life, bring pleasure and joy to the guests in a healing environment.” Ruka shared. A comprehensive assessment by trained staff will be used to develop an individualized plan targeted to actually improve function or delay cognitive decline as much as possible,” Ruka shared. “What we have planned goes far beyond crafts, playing games or simply supervision of loved ones. It will improve the lives of people with memory loss, and also provide a needed respite for their caregivers.”

The Center is expected to fill a great need in the Valley, a point validated by the feasibility study conducted by Memorial in 2016. That study showed that in the next five years, the overall population of the communities in the hospital service area is only projected to increase by 1%. By 2030 (less than 15 years away) Carroll County is predicted to be one of the oldest counties in the NH with 48% of population over 65 years old. The 85 years plus group is the most rapidly growing population and is expected to increase by 129%. This not only increases the service demands for individuals with cognitive impairment but also means that that many of the “Baby Boomers” are caring for elderly relatives and are in need of respite care, caregiver supports and education. “There is a silver tsunami headed our way here in Mt. Washington Valley in terms of demographics and the need for memory care services,” stated Ruka. “We identified Healthy Aging and Behavioral Health as two out of our three top priorities of our 2016 Community Health Needs Assessment. This new service addresses both imperatives.”

 In terms of design and appearance, the center would provide a home-like experience in a healing and safe environment. The setting is proposed to include an outdoor fenced therapy garden with extensive walking and viewing features, a central gathering place for group activities and socialization, dining and examination rooms, a kitchen area, exercise room, a solarium to bring nature indoors and several small rooms for those needing a less stimulating environment. “Everything about this facility will be purpose-built to provide a safe, stimulating environment for our guests with memory loss. In order to attract families and their loved ones, the Center has to have all the comforts of home and be a place they look forward to visiting,” stated Ruka.

The Gibson Center has been a big proponent of the project during its planning stages and will undoubtedly be a major source of referrals for it. “It’s the #1 question we get other than what’s for dessert. We get phone calls every day asking if we have adult day services or where they might find them in the Valley,” stated Gibson Center Executive Director George Cleveland. Memorial is working with the Gibson Center to investigate the possibility of their providing meals or transportation, a core competency of theirs that would build on their existing services. “We want to help out and support this effort anyway we can,” Cleveland continued.

The site plan review for the parcel of land in Center Conway is scheduled to take place on February 22nd. The land is under contract and will be purchased pending permits and approvals. A variance from the zoning board of approval was granted in December 2017, paving the way for the site plan review.

HEB Engineers of North Conway, NH was contracted for all of the site design engineering and permitting. SMRT of Portland, ME has been tapped for architectural services. Landry French Construction of Scarborough, ME has been named construction manager.

The Betty C. Ketchum Foundation was created to serve the needs of the senior memory care population, their families and caregivers within Carroll County, NH and nearby western Maine. The Foundation’s initial undertaking is the construction and furnishing of the Mount Washington Valley Adult Day Center.

For more information about the Center, contact Memorial Hospital’s Sue Ruka at 603-356-5461 ext. 2194.

About Memorial Hospital

Memorial Hospital is a not-for-profit 25-bed Critical Access Hospital located in North Conway, NH, and is a member of the MaineHealth family. Its hospital services include a 24-hour emergency department, surgery center, clinical laboratory, heart health & wellness programs, family birthing center, sleep center, oncology, chemotherapy and infusion services and the Miranda Center for Diabetes. Physician practices include primary care and family medicine, women's health, orthopedics and sports medicine. The Merriman House, a 45-bed nursing home specializing in Alzheimer's and other memory disorders, is also located on the hospital campus. Together, our staff and providers are committed to meeting the health needs of the Mt. Washington Valley and surrounding communities by collaborating with community partners in the delivery of accessible, comprehensive, compassionate, and quality health care.

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