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An artist rendering shows what the entrance to Ecumen Detroit Lakes will look like as part of the $3 million grant to make the facility a hub for senior services and amenities. Submitted artist rendering

Ecumen receives $3 million grant for upgrades

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Thanks to a $3 million grant, Ecumen Detroit Lakes will be featuring some upgrades.

The purpose of the grant is to help transform the nursing home into a "one-stop aging services hub that improves and expands service access for seniors in rural Becker County," according to a press release sent out by Ecumen.

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The goal is to develop a replicable model that maximizes existing community infrastructure, integrates technology, and combines services in one location to help seniors remain healthfully independent in rural America, it says.

The $3 million grant is from the Margaret A. Cargill Foundation.

Rural America's fastest growing population cohort is people 65-plus. Seniors make up 15 percent of the country's rural populace, with the proportion of seniors greater in rural areas than metropolitan areas.

Overall, rural residents have proportionately more chronic conditions than their urban counterparts, but obtaining services that can help a person remain independent can be difficult in rural areas, especially for seniors, many of whom live alone.

"We are honored by this opportunity to carry out Margaret A. Cargill's philanthropic vision, especially as it relates to transforming aging services and serving unmet needs," said Kathryn Roberts, president and CEO of Ecumen.

"Our goal is to help keep people healthier and out of the nursing home and hospital. This initiative will take a whole-person approach and create a community hub that helps integrate technology, socialization, fitness, nutrition and health care. Society has long looked at aging as a challenge. We believe growing older represents one of our country's great innovation opportunities."

Ecumen has commenced design work on the new center on the Ecumen Detroit Lakes campus, which includes a mix of housing and services for seniors. Construction is anticipated to begin in the spring and conclude in 2014. Components will include:

• A telehealth center for physicians, nurses and other health care professionals to conduct patient consultations

• Thirty private rehabilitation suites for short-term stays, so area residents can rehabilitate after illness or surgery and then return home

• A warm-water pool for exercise classes and physical therapy.

• State-of-the art occupational therapy, speech therapy and physical therapy areas

• A fitness center with anaerobic and aerobic equipment, which can accommodate all strength levels

• A labyrinth area for meditation, prayer and reflection

• An Internet café, library and classrooms for health workshops, classes and other social and educational opportunities

• A salon

• A dining area for up to 40 people

In most rural areas, this mix of services doesn't exist or is geographically scattered. A hub approach opens the door to making other community resources more accessible.

For example, it can provide area physicians a partner in physical therapy, and care and patient health monitoring to better coordinate health information; transportation approaches can be focused on a single destination; and it can help better define and coordinate acute care and non-acute care services in the larger community.

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