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Holy Spirit Retirement Home renovates original building

By RENEE WEBB, Globe senior reporter
(Email Renee)

Last fall Holy Spirit Retirement Home in Sioux City dedicated a new addition, but improvements haven’t stopped there.

According to Pat Tomscha, administrator, the facility’s board of directors felt strongly about to do some renovations in Holy Spirit’s original building. Most of the updates in this $900,000 project will be made to the building’s first floor.

“Our board of directors really felt that the existing building needed to have some renovations so we immediately jumped into another contract,” said Tomscha, who noted the board made this decision out of a desire to help the seniors have a better quality of life. “We want to make sure the residents have the most dignified and respectful environment we can offer them.”

Since the structure was built in 1969, Tomscha noted there were no major modifications. In 1972, there was a slight modification to add the second floor dining room.

One of the driving forces behind the current updates to the rooms is the belief that the bathrooms needed to have more room to improve functionality.

“The bathrooms will be larger and more accessible,” Tomscha said.

Another reason for the renovation was to create more private rooms. With the completion of the new addition last fall, he explained the extra room has allowed them to increase the number of private rooms.

When the facility opened, semi-private rooms were standard.

“Generally, we had two people per room with a small bathroom,” Tomscha said. “That was quite adequate for the 1969 resident that we attracted back then. Residents were generally a little more ambulatory; they were able to move inside the bathrooms without help or assistance. What we are finding these days is we are seeing individuals who come to us in a higher acuity state so they need help with the transfers to the bathroom.”

Oftentimes, it takes two helpers and a mechanical lift. The larger and more functional bathrooms, Tomscha noted, will allow for safe transfers inside the bathrooms.

Private rooms, he said, can be particularly welcome by residents who are in the facility for their last years.

These rooms allow them to have private time with their family members without having to impede upon a roommate or a roommate’s family.

Renovation will take place in five phases. In the first phase, five residents moved into the newly renovated space.

“It was nice to see some of the reactions of residents with the new pleasant colors, new flooring and function of the bathrooms,” Tomscha said.

Ruth Dankey is one of the residents to move into the newly-renovated space. She has been a resident of Holy Spirit for about 18 months.

She pointed out that through the remodeling, Holy Spirit wanted to make better use of the space.

“They made the bathroom much bigger,” noted Dankey, who is from Woonsocket, S.D. The bathrooms have pocket doors and a built-in medicine cabinet. “There were two people in most of the rooms. There was really only room for two beds, a dresser and space to get around. They wanted to make it more livable.”

Each phase is expected to take about six weeks. It is anticipated that renovation will be completed by fall.
Tomscha said they wanted to try to minimize the number of residents in each area so specific care could be concentrated if need be.

“We are also looking at some changes in the front porch,” he added. “We will have an enclosed front porch where people can enjoy the sun.”

Tomscha explained with the recent addition, they created a new centralized entrance. With that in mind, they plan to close up the existing old entrance to enhance the path flow upon entrance of the facility.

“The biggest change is that we will increase our dining room size to help us reduce the congestion and the busyness to create a more pleasant environment for residents,” he said.

One concept of the new addition that is flowing over to these renovations is the neighborhood concept.

“We wanted the neighborhood approach, so in a couple of areas we have some small lounges that we developed that will have some areas for families to rest and to go back into those private lounges,” Tomsch said.

These smaller spaces allow them to be out of the higher activity levels.

“We want to make sure the families are feeling the social side, the feeling of belonging to a neighborhood and we wanted to move that into our skilled nursing facility,” he said.

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