Campaign underway to fund room renovations at Care Center

Nearly 10 years ago, West River Health Services and the West River Health Services Foundation purchased the Western Horizons Care Center when its former owner, Lantis Corporation, left Hettinger.


Western Horizons Care Center has seen improvements over the years. However, this campaign is strictly focused on improving the individual resident rooms. (Photo by Cole Benz/The Herald)

By COLE BENZ|The Herald|

Nearly 10 years ago, West River Health Services and the West River Health Services Foundation purchased the Western Horizons Care Center when its former owner, Lantis Corporation, left Hettinger.

Now, after some bumps along the way, the Foundation board is ready to help give the facility a much-needed renovation.

After an Oct. 10 meeting among the Western Horizon Living Centers Board of Directors, the Foundation was informed that building a new facility was not feasible. But the board wanted to go ahead with a renovation project, and asked if the Foundation could help.

Spear headed by Fund Development Officer Ted Uecker, along with the rest of the board, they have started the ‘One Room At a Time Campaign’ to raise the necessary funds to improve the environment for the residents and their families.

The project, in its entirety, is slated to cost $145,500.

The initial hope was to have over $30,000 raised by April so work could begin. However, donations have already been received to the sum of over $41,000. A majority of the money was from the Foundation’s board themselves, who gave $25,000 to jump start the campaign.

Others who have already given to the campaign include the Hettinger City Council ($5,500), Uecker Yards ($4,500), Farmers Union Insurance and the Community Closet ($2,000 each). More donations have come in ranging from as little as $10 up to $750 from various sources.

This is not the first time the Foundation and West River Health Services has helped. Since 2008 they have helped the facility purchase new dining room chairs, repainted and replaced the flooring in many of the common areas, created a new nurse’s station and purchased new beds.

But this campaign, and the ensuing project, will focus primarily on the individual resident rooms.

Of the 42 rooms that will be renovated, 27 of those will need new flooring, while the flooring in the remaining 15 are presently in good condition.

Uecker said the plan is to revamp the rooms from top to bottom. The rooms will be painted, and the fixtures will be replaced. New sinks, drapes and decorations will be included in the renovations as well, among other improvements.

The facility is close to 100 percent occupancy, so attracting residents is not an issue.

So why make these updates?

There are three purposes for the project, Uecker said; it’s for resident comfort, for families and the peace of mind that their relatives are in a nice facility, and for employee attraction and retention.

“Let’s make it a better environment for our residents, their families, and our employees,” Uecker said. “And that really is the goal.”

In Uecker’s mind, why wouldn’t you want mom, dad, aunt, uncle or any other family member to be in a comfortable facility, especially if they are moving out of their home.

The project will be completed four rooms at a time. When updating a care facility there is a lot of shifting and moving, and it will directly effect the residents. So you have to piecemeal the work, allowing minimal displacement of the residents. And doing the project in steps, work can be done as funds come in, it doesn’t have to wait to accrue all $145,500.

The $145,000 doesn’t have much room for debate, Uecker said the project was quoted at about a 10 percent contingency, so the amount the Foundation is raising is very close to what they think it will take to complete the room improvements.

“We are running this absolutely at what we think it will cost,” Uecker said. “We’re trying to raise exactly what we need to do these 42 rooms.”

The Foundation has a plan of attack for fundraising efforts; starting at the top with the Board of Director members of Wester Horizon Living Center, West River Health Services and West River Health Foundation, and trickling all the way down to businesses, organizations and individual community members from the surrounding area.

In the near future, Hettinger and the surrounding communities will start to see outreach material. Information on the project will be present and residents will be able to know what’s going on, and what they can do to help. Different fundraising events will be advertised and information will be shared accordingly.

Donators giving $2,500 to $4,000 will be able to sponsor a room, but Uecker said any amount or type of giving is appreciated.

“We’re open to any gift, we’ve always based our principals at the foundation on we don’t tell people what to give, every gift is important and you can give what ever you want.,” Uecker said “We respect every gift.”

The Foundation has raised enough money for work to begin. The first section to be renovated will be the north east wing of the facility, and Director Mark Prischmann has been given the green light to start.

Uecker reiterated his desire to make the facility as good as it can be. With this campaign and fundraising, the improvements will give the residents a new, warm feeling about where they are living.

“We want people to feel good about where they are at,” Uecker said. “I just think it will really make our residents feel better.”

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