Addition to Port facility retains homelike feeling owners strive to provide
As site manager Sonja Perez gives tours of the recently completed expansion of the Ellen’s Home community-based residential facility in Port Washington, it is almost as if Mother Nature is on the payroll.
Walking past the community room that leads to the bright sun porch, a pair of Canada geese swam past in the nearby wetlands, as if on cue.
“The emphasis is really that this is a homelike setting. We are creating a place where people will want to be, rather than a sterile, institutional feeling,” Perez said.
It was just two years ago that Ellen’s Home opened its first phase, a 13,000-square-foot facility that has 20 apartments for seniors who need some assistance while keeping as much independence as possible.
The facility at 1800 Granite La. adjacent to Port’s Greystone subdivision, has been full since its opening.
Even as the senior residence opened, owners Dave Landers and Tracy Bardwell were anticipating the need for expansion.
Moving day at the 12,000-square-foot second phase will be April 12. The addition will have 20 spacious apartments, along with several community areas, a shared dining hall and a separate family dining room for more intimate gatherings.
“There has been a lot of interest in the second phase. I would say it is a little more upscale than the first phase, and we will be sharing a lot of facilities,” Landers said.
Residents of the current facility have been the best salespersons for the new facility.
“We are finding that our residents are telling their friends about the new addition, and they are interested in moving here, too,” Landers said.
The facility offers 24-hour care, full meals, a registered nurse on staff and transportation to places like doctor’s offices and the library.
Each of the rooms has a private bathroom, although a common whirlpool bath is available for residents who want to take advantage of a little pampering.
“We have one in the first phase, and at first the residents didn’t want anything to do with it. After one person tried it, it seemed everyone wanted to use the whirlpool,” Landers said.
Meals will be prepared in the commercial-grade kitchen in the original section of the complex and brought over to the addition, where the new residents will be served.
The first phase of the facility has a staff of 17, and although there will be some sharing of personnel, the addition will require 15 more workers.
The expansion will continue the operators’ goal of meeting the long-range needs of senior residents.
“The goal is to provide a setting that will be a home for the residents for the rest of their years. I think we’ve only had two cases where residents had to be moved to nursing homes because they needed greater care than we can provide,” Landers aid.
Because the facility will care for residents with a wide range of needs, the expansion is equipped with an electronic monitoring system called WanderGuard.
Residents with Alzheimer’s or other dementia-like conditions are fitted with bracelets that trigger the system when they wander out a door, alerting staff members.
“It provides peace of mind to families that are concerned about a loved one wandering off with nobody knowing,” Landers said. “We have the system at our Germantown facility, and it works great.”
Rents in the new wing range from $3,500 to $5,000 a month, depending on the level of care the resident needs.
The Ellen’s Home name is a tribute to an elderly woman who was befriended by Bardwell.
“The name just stuck. When someone gets it wrong and calls us Ellen’s House, we always correct them, because this is truly a home,” Landers said.
An open house is planned for Sunday, April 25, from 1 to 4 p.m.
THE 20-ROOM ADDITION to Ellen’s Home community-based residential facility on Port Washington’s south side is surrounded by a natural setting, including seasonal wetlands and meadows. At left, owner Mike Landers and resident Armin Grisar toured the new dining room. Photos by Mark Jaeger