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SMIH to showcase new facilities at open house

St. Mary's Nursing Center now goes by the name Oak Crossing after a new addition and facelift. St. Mary's will host an open house for the new addition on Sunday, Dec. 14.1 / 2
Annette Schultz of Nevis watches "Gunsmoke" in her transitional care room at Oak Crossing, part of the St. Mary's new addition.2 / 2

The nursing home that is located on the St. Mary's Innovis Health campus in Detroit Lakes has a new look -- and a new name.

As the sign outside the front door says, Oak Crossing is now the official moniker for the facility that was known for many years as St. Mary's Nursing Center.

But that's not all that's changed. According to Christy Brinkman, senior administrative leader for SMIH, the new addition that was constructed over the past year and a half (starting in July 2007) now houses a 23-bed transitional care unit and a 23-bed long-term care unit as well as a new front entrance and what has become the facility's nerve center -- the area known as "Main Street."

Much like the Main Street of a larger community, this area houses a hair salon, media center, fireplace, coffee shop and an area known as the "Loafer's Lounge" -- where cocktails, other beverages and snacks are served and sports events, movies and a variety of entertainment and educational programs can be watched on a large-screen TV.

In the media center, there is a computer program that allows residents and visitors to take "virtual trips" to just about anywhere in the world.

"Our first trip was to Hawaii," said Ann Leonard, who is the Oak Crossing admissions coordinator, transitional care neighborhood manager and interim director of nursing.

"We gave out snacks just as if you were riding on an airplane...our flight was first-class all the way -- no coach seating," she joked.

When the group "landed" in Hawaii, they were treated to pina coladas and fruit spears in the lounge, then played Wheel of Fortune.

The computer in the media center also has therapeutic capabilities, such as the pedal attachment that allows users to simulate riding a bike through the park or along the lakeshore.

"It also has a web cam so families can communicate with the residents here (by live video)," Leonard added. "We have another computer open to residents that they can use for e-mails, games, or just browsing the Internet."

The residential units at Oak Crossing are divided into "neighborhoods," each of which is equipped with its own laundry and a spa that is large enough to allow residents to get into the whirlpool, enjoy a relaxing dip then get dressed, fix their hair, brush their teeth, put on makeup and get ready for the day before venturing back outside.

And Oak Crossing residents also have access to its kitchen facilities, where they are encouraged to cook their own meals, bake cookies, etc. There is a formal dining room as well as the larger, informal dining area, and a breakfast nook.

Residents are able to eat breakfast according to their own schedule -- they don't all have to be in the dining room at the same time.

And while this "rise and dine" policy has been practiced at the nursing home for many years, the new facilities allow residents to enjoy eggs, waffles, toast, bacon and a variety of other breakfast items being prepared for them on the spot.

"The smell of toast and bacon is very aromatic," Leonard said.

"Having the kitchen right there allows all the residents and their families to participate in the food experience," Brinkman added.

For instance, if a family wants to come in and bake a birthday cake for one of the residents -- or one of the residents wants to bake a cake for a family member --they are welcome to do so.

It's all part of a plan to make life at Oak Crossing more closely resemble living in a residential neighborhood.

"We're trying to create the same atmosphere as a home," said Leonard, adding that the idea behind the concept is "you don't have to change your life because you change your address."

Though the new addition has been completed, it is only the first phase of a three-part project that is slated for completion by mid-summer 2009. The next two phases will involve renovating the original nursing home into neighborhood units that are virtually identical to those in the new addition.

However, Brinkman added, while each neighborhood may have the same essential elements, they will all have their own, individual characteristics -- much like their counterparts in the Detroit Lakes community that surrounds them.

To showcase its new additions, Oak Crossing and the Therapy Center (located next door), St. Mary's Innovis Health has planned a holiday open house for this Sunday, Dec. 14, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Guests will be able to enjoy refreshments and tour the facilities.

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 16 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454