By Emily Bialkowski
Caledonia Care & Rehab is set to undertake an enormous remodel much to the delight of staff, residents and visitors alike.
Their facility on 425 North Badger Street has seen its fair share of change over the years and has come a long way from its nascent years as a community hospital and nursing home in the 1960s.
This project, which completely remodels 9,800 square feet of the facility, will align the structure to serve its clients and employees well into the coming decades, according to Administrator Lloyd Swalve.
Caledonia Care & Rehab was purchased in 2004 by Grant and Andrea Thayer of Rochester. Not long into their ownership discussion began about improving safety and modifying the space to create something more functional and modern.
“The fact that it was once a hospital and had much under utilized space helped us to start thinking about a project,” Swalve said, adding, “Last December thoughts started to solidify as to just exactly what we wanted to accomplish in a new project. Also influencing our decision was bringing certain aspects of the building up to code.”
The project includes:
• The addition of five private rooms for short stay residents near the therapies department;
• Updating the nursing station/reception area to accommodate technology changes and for better visual observation of the resident wings/corridors;
• Creating a large open commons area to accommodate larger gatherings and create a feel of openness in the facility;
• Compliance with Life Safety Code changes/enforcements;
• Adding a beauty salon; and
• Elevator replacement.
Staff and residents have expressed delight over the coming changes, Swalve said.
“The common area is something we really wanted. That’s been a very popular item in the project. The additional five rooms for short stay rehabilitation is something we talked about, and folks are excited by that as well,” he said.
There are inherent challenges to modifying a space while people are living in it, and this project is especially sensitive since asbestos will be removed during reconstruction.
“The fire marshal has been very emphatic about having a physical separation from floor to roof deck – a temporary, fire-rated wall – that is a real challenge,” Swalve admitted.
To accommodate residents, employees and construction workers, the project will roll out in phases over the next six months.
“We are very confident we can make all of this happen, but it is very challenging to figure how people can move around the building and avoid 9,800 square feet of renovation area,” Swalve said.
The nearly $700,000 renovation also required a massive amount of prep work in the form of permits, applications and clearing out old stuff.
Preconstruction – sorting, moving and storing – has been underway since January, and Swalve said the approval process was rigorous and involved the Department of Health, the Department of Labor and Industry and the state fire marshal.
He said, “There’s a lot of red tape, but this is a home and the safety code has to be observed.”
With work starting this week, staff and residents remain bright eyed about what lies ahead.
The private rooms will satisfy requests the center has heard from short stay clients, while a shift to provide more specified services continues to draw affirmation.
“Over the years we have heavily shifted to community-based services. We’ve been changing our programming,” some of which includes memory care, adult day service, assisted living, senior apartments and various therapies, Swalve said.
“We’re looking forward to it. I’ve been looking forward to it for a long, long time, and finally to see a project materialize is pretty exciting.”
If interested, visitors can view a large-scale rendering of the project in the building.
And, as if renovating 9,800 square feet isn’t enough, Swalve said there’s rumblings over a new first-floor kitchen down the road, though he personally plans to retire before that.
“It’s not in the scope of this project, but it is getting researched,” he said.