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New Village on The Isle health center showcases change in nursing home philosophy

The Herald-Tribune - 1/6/2020

Jan. 6--VENICE -- As a retired nurse practitioner with 40 years of experience, when Jan Martin raves about the new Health Center at Village on the Isle, she is speaking from experience as she marvels at how much accommodations have changed.

"I am so terribly excited about this whole new program," Martin said on a recent Friday, when residents were touring the new health center, which features 64 individual residential suites.

"We're far beyond the edge," Martin said. "Nursing homes, for the last 70 years, have been designed like hospitals -- long hallways, two people in a room and a bathroom and carts out in the middle, equipment, just hospital-oriented.

"Now, this is all centered on the individual, she continued, then noted that residents can eat meals on their own schedule, either in their room, or together with other residents.

Martin has been a Village on the Isle resident for about 10 years, mostly in independent-living apartments, though in June, she moved to the assisted living quarters, now known as The Lofts.

"I see this as the greatest thing in the world," she added.

Hospitals are evolving along the same lines as residential facilities like Village on the Isle.

For example, the new hospital Sarasota Memorial Health Care System is building at the intersection of Laurel and Pinebrook roads in Venice features floor-to-ceiling windows to let in lots of light, and offers single-patient suites, too.

As a nonprofit continuing-care community, Village On The Isle gives residents an opportunity to live independently in condominiums and cottages, then transition to quarters with caregiver assistance as their needs warrant.

Residents pay an entrance fee and a monthly service fee for maintenance and upkeep, while they reside at Village On The Isle.

The ongoing renovations on the 16.5-acre campus include construction of 46 independent living residences and the health center.

The health center is scheduled to open this month.

The health center offers skilled nursing care for both full-time residents as well people there for short-term rehabilitation stays.

"I can compare easily what we used to have and what this has become, said Martin, who worked in both upstate New York near Rochester and near Roanoke, Virginia. "This is positively the most elegant, gorgeous place, and usually people think of nursing homes as dreary and dull. And they were.

"We never had windows that were full-length and you could see out."

Krisetn Myers, the marketing and sales director for Village on the Isle, led the tour through the common areas, beauty shop and one private suite.

The ground floor of the new health center will be the new main entryway for Village on the Isles. The main desk will be staffed by either a concierge or security, and plenty of visitor parking has been placed in front of the building. The ground floor will feature the exercise and rehabilitation services and equipment, as well as the main kitchen.

The second and third floors contain four 16-resident communities -- each person has their own room and private bathroom with a large, walk-in shower.

The community concept is a carryover from The Lofts, where staff, dedicated to each floor, socialize, cook and serve family-style meals, and care for residents on their respective floors.

"I'm at the Lofts right now, and I can see they brought some of the Lofts over to this place," said Len Brodeur, one of several residents who toured the third-floor residential area.

Irene Berry and Marge Miller were equally impressed.

"I'm healthy right now, but I would move," quipped Miller, who has lived at Village on the Isle for 18 years. "This is absolutely beautiful."

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