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At age 50, Emmanuel gets facelift

Emmanuel Nursing Home, which forms the heart of the Ecumen senior living and healthcare complex in Detroit Lakes, will turn 50 years old this year — and in honor of that milestone, the entire complex is getting a facelift.

Ecumen-Detroit Lakes is in the midst of a $10 million renovation and remodeling project that is scheduled for completion this coming fall.

“Our building is 50 years old, and now we’re preparing for the next 50 years,” said Janet Green, the facility’s executive director.

Part of the existing facility has been torn down, to make room for a 20,000 square foot addition, while another 48,000 square feet of space is being gutted and remodeled

“We’ll be adding 32 transitional care and short stay rooms, along with a new therapy center,” Green said.

Therapy center

The new therapy center will include private examination and treatment rooms, spaces for massage therapy, an aqua-massage bed, steam shower, and even a therapeutic swimming pool “with two underwater treadmills,” Green said.

The facility will offer a wide range of occupational, physical and speech therapy, on both an inpatient and outpatient basis.

“The new therapy center will also have a nice kitchen, laundry and residential-style bathrooms, to prepare patients for returning home,” Green said.

Wellness center, teleservices

The building project will also incorporate a new wellness center, with a yoga and fitness studio that will offer classes in not only yoga, but tai chi and other forms of exercise that will be open to residents, staff and in some cases, the entire community.

“It (the wellness center) will have a new entrance, with a café/bistro that will be open to residents, staff and visitors,” Green said.

The menu will offer “some good, healthy food and beverage options,” and there will also be a shop offering various types of wellness products for purchase.

There will be a business center, library, and teleservices center, which will allow Ecumen’s staff and local medical providers to consult directly with specialists from pretty much anywhere in the world, instead of having to travel long distances to receive those services.

In addition, the teleservices center will be able to offer counseling for people with diabetes, both pre- and post-weight loss surgery patients, and those in need of specialized psychiatric services, just to name a few of its many uses.

“There are so many different ways that this can be used,” Green said. “It’s becoming bigger all the time… it’s going to be a great resource for the community.

“We’re also enhancing our chapel, which is being enlarged and redesigned to offer more privacy during funerals and services, and to accommodate more people. And we’re updating our long term and memory care resident rooms, along with updating some of the bathrooms to make them more handicap accessible.”

The senior living facility known as The Cottage will also be renovated to over a total of 22 residential suites instead of the current 19 suites, which will be capable of serving up to 24 residents at a time, including couples.

Once all that is done, the entire facility will be getting new carpets, along with a fresh coat of paint and/or new wall coverings throughout much of the complex, Green said.

'Construction upheaval'

While all this is going on, however, many residents who have previously lived in private rooms are being asked to temporarily share their living spaces with a roommate, while many staff members (including Green herself) are sharing office space.

Some areas of the facility are only accessible via temporary corridors and tunnels while the new facilities are being constructed, she added.

“The people that live here are such good sports about all this,” Green said. “This truly is the greatest generation… they just accept and understand. And we’ve got some great people working here as well. They’re all handled this construction upheaval with such grace.”

‘50/50/50’ Challenge

Funding for the $10 million project was kickstarted with a $3 million grant from the Margaret A. Cargill Foundation, and the Otto Bremer Foundation has also chipped in with a $25,000 gift, along with a $50,000 matching grant — which was dependent upon raising $50,000 in local donations, through a fundraising campaign known as the “50/50/50 Challenge.”

The name is based upon the fact that the foundation is trying to raise $50,000 in donations to earn a $50,000 matching grant, during Emmanuel’s 50th anniversary year, Green said.

She added that she expects to be announcing the success of that challenge at the annual Emmanuel Foundation Charity Benefit, which is set for Friday, Jan. 24 at the Holiday Inn in Detroit Lakes.

In keeping with the theme, tickets for the benefit are set at $50 each, which includes a 5:30 p.m. social hour, followed by a “delicious” sit-down meal and dancing, not to mention a silent auction that will offer a variety of “truly unique” items, said Sandy Lia, fund development coordinator for Ecumen-Detroit Lakes.

“The businesses and people of this community have always been really generous with their support,” Lia added, noting that the benefit typically draws upwards of 200 people.

“We promise that it will be a lot of fun,” she said.

“We still have some tickets and sponsorships available,” Green added.

Tickets and sponsorship information are available at Ecumen’s front office, located inside Emmanuel Nursing Home, or by contacting either Sandy Lia at 218-844-8340 (e-mail:, or Janet Green at 218-844-7112 (e-mail:

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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