BARABOO — Duane Opperman has witnessed many changes at St. Clare Meadows Care Center in the 38 years he has worked there, but the Meadows’ recent construction project has been the biggest.
Over the past 18 months, the Baraboo nursing home’s footprint has expanded by 17,000 square feet to include the new Meadow Park rehab unit with 26 resident rooms, many of which are private with their own baths.
The new unit also boasts a large therapy department, spa-like bathing rooms, and a dining/activity center, featuring a vaulted ceiling and soaring fireplace.
Biggest renovation project
“The Meadow Park addition and remodel has been the biggest project since the original building was built in 1973,” noted Opperman, the facility’s maintenance supervisor.
In addition to the new construction, the rest of the nearly 40-year-old building was renovated and redecorated over the past one-and-one-half years.
There is now a larger dining room, a new chapel, a centralized nurses’ station, a computerized heating and ventilating system, an aviary of exotic finches, and a courtyard with a garden and shaded picnic tables.
Resident rooms in the skilled nursing, long-term care portion of the building, now called Meadow Wood, have also been redecorated. “The building is quieter, there’s less congestion in the hallways, and it’s just an all-around better atmosphere for our residents and staff,” Opperman said.
Dee Leatherberry agrees. In the 36 years that she has been employed at the Meadows, Leatherberry, too, has seen many changes.
They include the additions of the Meadow Lane assisted living wing, Meadow Brook Café and Hair Force styling salon in 1985, the chapel in 1992, and the St. Clare Hospice House in 2005.
In the 1980s, the Meadows also changed its name from Jefferson Meadows Care Center to St. Clare Meadows Care Center when SSM Health Care, a St. Louis-based Catholic health care system that owns St. Clare Hospital, purchased the facility.
But for Leatherberry, a registered nurse and the Meadows’ clinical coordinator, the changes that resonate most with her are those that have affected the care provided to the residents.
“We used to have rooms with as many as three beds and up to four residents sharing a common bathroom. Now, no more than two residents occupy a room and we have many more private rooms,” Leatherberry said.
“We have more nurses and nursing assistants on each unit around the clock. Years ago, therapy services were offered in a corner of the activity lounge. Now we have a large room where residents receive physical, occupational, and speech therapies,” she commented.
“Residents used to have to eat in shifts and now they have a restaurant-like dining area where meals are served buffet style. With Meadow Park, we can better serve residents needing rehab or recovery time. And the sub-acute care residents love the spa bathing rooms. I feel like I’m working in a new place and our residents have a new home,” Leatherberry said.
Open house October 9
An open house of the newly expanded and renovated St. Clare Meadows Care Center, 1414 Jefferson St. in Baraboo, will take place on Sunday, Oct. 9, from 2 to 4 p.m., with a program and blessing of the new facility scheduled for 2 p.m. in the chapel.
Following the program, there will be self-guided tours, entertainment, and refreshments. Additional parking will be available in St. Clare Hospital lots with shuttle service.
‘Vibrant and pleasant’
“St. Clare Meadows Care Center has always been a vibrant and pleasant place where exceptional care is provided by dedicated staff and volunteers. Now, the facility is larger, beautiful, and modern, too,” said Ron Schaetzl, the facility’s administrator.
“We invite the community to see the many wonderful changes that have taken place at St. Clare Meadows Care Center since our recent major construction and renovation. Our residents will look forward to showing their new home to open house visitors,” Schaetzl said.
For more information about the open house, call 608-356-8535.