STEVENSVILLE -- To be polite, Patrick McQuone refers to the 46-year-old Lakeland Continuing Care Center-St. Joseph building as "worn."
The rooms are small -- shoebox size, even.
And many Lakeland Continuing Care patients still share bathrooms, said McQuone, administrator of the skilled nursing and rehabilitation facility.
"Back in the day to be fire resistant, buildings were made of cement block," he said. "While it may be effective, it has no appeal."
So earlier this year, the Lakeland board of directors approved plans to replace the center with a new $10 million facility.
The 57,000-square-foot facility will be located about four miles south in Stevensville. It should be ready to move into in October 2013, McQuone said.
Officials broke ground on the center in May, but construction is only now able to get under way at 4382 Cleveland Ave., said Daniel Bacchiocchi, construction and property management director at Lakeland HealthCare.
It has taken several weeks for contractors to clear underbrush and vineyard remnants threatening the older trees on the wooded 18-acre property before excavation can begin and building footings can be poured, Bacchiocchi said.
Lakeland also considered a proposed site on Maiden Lane in Royalton Township, but the majority of residents, volunteers and staff who attended public forums on the new location said they preferred Cleveland Avenue.
"We want the patient and family to get away from the clinical heavy nursing setting," McQuone says. "There will be deer and raccoons, turkeys and squirrels. And it's truly in a neighborhood across from a church."
The new center be about 24,000 square feet larger than the existing building. There will be room on the property for additional future on-site senior services.
The number of beds will remain at 111, but patient rooms and bathrooms will be larger, McQuone said, and more common space and meeting areas will be available for residents.
"We're also a rehab center and care for people who need us for a short time after surgery or a stroke, and residents who need care and services available on a 24-hour a day basis," he said.
Walking paths are also planned around the perimeter of the property, and they will be open to residents, visitors and the community.
After residents and staff move to the new Stevensville building, the St. Joseph site at 3425 Lakeshore Drive, near Hawthorne Avenue, will likely be sold. Any revenue from the sale will be reinvested for future community health care needs, Lakeland officials said.
Hospice also planned
Directly behind the new skilled nursing and rehab center in Stevensville, Lakeland HealthCare also recently announced plans for a new residential hospice center.
The Merlin and Carolyn Hanson Hospice Center is expected to break ground in September. The Hansons committed $1.5 million toward the 16-resident center.
Lakeland and Hospice at Home, a Lakeland affiliate, continue to raise funds toward the building's total $5.5 million projected cost.
The 18,400-square-foot hospice center will contain large private patient rooms with provisions for families to stay overnight. Each room will offer either natural views or a small private patio, and the center will have common areas and private alcoves.
Lakeland officials said the facility will be the first of its kind in Berrien County; local patients and families needing hospice care in a specialized setting now have to relocate to South Bend, Kalamazoo or Holland, Mich.
The hospice center is expected to add 21 full-time direct-care job positions.
Staff writer Heidi Prescott: