Spring Valley Living breaks ground for big expansion project

GRETCHEN MENSINK LOVEJOY/SPRING VALLEY TRIBUNE Spring Valley Living held its groundbreaking ceremony last Thursday, Nov. 7, in spite of the snow that had fallen Tuesday into Wednesday. Spring Valley Living board members and officials with firms involved in the project are digging into the cold dirt with administrator Penny Solberg, right.

GRETCHEN MENSINK LOVEJOY/SPRING VALLEY TRIBUNE The architectural drawing on display at Spring Valley Living shows the circular design of the memory care unit on the far northeast portion of the campus on the upper right in this representation. The new nursing home wing addition, which is shown angling to the left, or northwest in this drawing, will provide a more modern long-term care wing that can also be used for short stay rehab if the facility’s temporary care unit, Woodland Path, is full.
Gretchen Mensink Lovejoy

The sky may have fallen, but there was still someplace to break ground last Thursday at Spring Valley Living (SVL) as director Penny Solberg and social services director Vera Ndumbe lined up alongside several others on a snow-covered field just north of the facility’s skilled nursing, assisted living and independent living apartments campus to officially begin the work to expand it to include a memory care unit, adult day program and a new wing on the long-term skilled nursing building.

Solberg invited the public to join the staff for turning spades of sand over onto the snow before asking them to come inside to learn more during a reception held in the Estates Assisted Living dining hall. The people assembled outside broke ground for a 24-unit memory care, adult day program and a new wing added to the long-term care nursing home. 

“When the Evergreens independent apartments were built, there was a long-range plan established for growth,” Solberg said. “Included in that plan were additional wings to the nursing home – one added in 2014 – and memory care housing.  With market analysis and needs experienced firsthand in placing residents in appropriate settings, it has led the organization to this moment.” 

The 24-unit memory care is being built with a design and a program that will allow those suffering from memory loss to “live to their best,” she said. The units will be built around a courtyard so there is access to the outside when the weather permits.  Most of the units are 350 square feet, with their own bathroom and a kitchenette, and there are a couple of units designed for the possibility of couples living together.

“The adult day area is attached to the memory care building and will be set up to care for up to five people a day, with programming specific to their needs, to assist families who need to go to work or have other things they need to do,” Solberg said. “This is something that they have in other places, but now, we’ll have it in Fillmore County.” 

The new nursing home wing addition is to provide a more modern long-term care wing that can also be used for short stay rehab if the facility’s temporary care unit, Woodland Path, is full, noted Solberg. There will be 12 units in the new wing with each room having its own bathroom and shower. 

“This will free up rooms that have shared bathrooms to be used as treatment rooms, education rooms for our staff, and the configuration of rooms in Sunny Lane will allow for rooms that could house couples or those that would like a roommate, but the majority of the rooms will be private,” she explained. “Nursing homes in the 1970s were built for efficiency – there were shared bathrooms, and the rooms were small – but we’ll add those 12 units in long-term care so people will have their own bathrooms. We’ll still have a few double rooms, but a very few.”

As in past building projects, this one has been funded through the cooperation of the city of Spring Valley in facilitating tax-exempt revenue bonds. She also learned earlier that day that the Department of Human Services awarded the project a Live Well at Home grant for the memory care unit in the amount of $350,000. 

Joseph Construction, out of Austin is managing the construction, and Wold Architects has designed the project and was involved in the various phases of growth for Spring Valley Living. 

“We will be taking reservations for the memory care units right away, with anticipation of opening in early fall 2020,” she said. “This will also be the case for the adult day program.  There will be updates on the progress of construction posted in the three main entrances of the existing building.”

Solberg thanked everyone for attending and warned the neighbors to Spring Valley Living’s north that construction will soon commence. 

“We want to thank you in advance for tolerating the construction during the next several months,” she said. “We try to be good neighbors.”