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Merrick Manor will have better rooms, sleep center and more hospice rooms

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Fremont Area Medical Center addition

This is an artist's rendering of a room after the renovations to A.J. Merrick Manor.

Improvements at A.J. Merrick Manor over the next two years will include bigger and better rooms for all the residents, a new sleep center and two more hospice care rooms.

Parts of the manor will be torn down and rebuilt, and the rest will be renovated by the time the Building a Healthy Future project is finished in 2015.

Fremont Area Medical Center officials are billing improvements to the long-term care facility, which makes up roughly $8 million of an overall up to $42 million project, as renovated and new rooms “that feel like home – offering larger, more comfortable space with modern handicap accessible restroom facilities.”

Merrick Manor is FAMC’s skilled care facility with private and semiprivate rooms, 24-hour nursing care, and immediate access to FAMC hospital services.

An architectural study showed the most cost effective approach would be renovating newer parts of the facility, but tearing down and rebuilding older parts.

“Most of the manor was built in the early 1960s, so we’re 50-plus years old down there,” said Brett Richmond, FAMC vice president of professional services.

“It was almost as expensive to go back and renovate that space -- and you would still have a 50-year-old building -- than it would be to knock most of it down and rebuild,” he said.

“What we call the 100 wing, which is the northern part of the manor, was built in the 1990s,” he said. “There’s three legs of that, two of those legs will remain and we’ll renovate that space. Then most of the rest of the manor (the 200, 300 and 400 wings)…will come down in a phasing process and be rebuilt.”

The facility is licensed for 112 beds and is currently home to about 90 residents. The project will reduce the number of rooms to around 106, but increase the number of private rooms from 42 to around 60.

Private and semi-private rooms will all be larger. FAMC staff said the rooms will be more attractive, comfortable and energy-efficient.

The main entrance and Alice M. Anderson Room, which is Merrick’s dining and main activity center, will remain. The room underwent a major renovation two years ago, including new flooring, window treatments, partially enclosing the food service area, and modern décor, and will receive further updated as part of the project.

Two new hospice suites will be built at Merrick in response to the popularity of FAMC’s first two hospice suites, which opened just a year ago.

FAMC provided hospice services for many years prior to modifying two long-term care rooms at Merrick into the initial hospice suites.

Each suite provides two separate living spaces -- one for the patient and the other for the family.

Demand for the suites has been so high that some requests have had to be declined, explained Peg Kennedy, vice president and chief nursing executive.

“Even though our hospice program provides services at home and other nursing homes, some people just prefer to be, or need to be, where they can get some more nursing care, so hospice has teamed up with Merrick Manor to provide that,” she said.

The project will also enable the hospital to build a state-of-the-art, two-bed sleep lab, which will be located at Merrick Manor, but not an operational part of that facility.

FAMC has a two-bed sleep center located in the hospital now, and in 2009 planned to build a free-standing center, but that construction never took place.

“We are now looking to create more of a residential sleep center that will not bring patients into the hospital, but rather a more inviting and home-like atmosphere,” explained Bill Vobejda, vice president of administration.


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