' health center is undergoing a $4.4 million renovation, expected to begin this September and estimated to take a year to complete.
According to the health center administrator for the Upper St. Clair assisted living center, Russ Firewicz, NHA, “The health center at FVSH is an 89-bed nursing facility originally constructed in 1984, which has not seen any major renovations in the past 10 years.”
He said he is “very happy” that the long-awaited renovation is moving forward.
Saxton Strategic Space Solutions, an interior design firm based in Des Moines, Iowa, and the general contractor, Large Contracting Services, Inc. based in Large, Pa., are handling this project.
Even the residents had a chance to participate. Earlier in 2011, some residents from Friendship Village’s independent living apartments served on a development committee. Together with the interior design firm and administrators, they decided on several of the interior finishes to be used.
Firewicz said residents picked from “different color palettes of chair fabric and vinyl samples, paint finishes, carpeting, hard surface flooring, draperies and bedspreads” provided by Saxton Interiors.
Firewicz said, “One of the objectives of the upcoming Health Center remodeling was to create additional space for services without moving outside walls and without major new construction.”
To create 150 square feet of space in the rehabilitation gym for equipment, and what he says is the “provision of therapeutic treatments," a staff member from an adjoining office will be transferred to another office so rehabilitation therapists can be moved into the newly vacated one.
Other examples of changes to the health center include replacing wall vinyl and carpeting, adding new window coverings, and installing “new hard surface flooring,” according to Firewicz.
As for residents, they will receive new white three-panel doors for their rooms along with new furniture. The room lighting will also be upgraded. Residents, who live in a two-bed room, can look forward to the installation of another television set, so that each resident will have his or her own television. In addition, a medicine cabinet for each resident will be installed in their bathrooms.
Although all residents will have to move out of their rooms for a week, they will be given plenty of notice. Renovation on residents’ rooms will take place by working on a four-bed unit at a time. For instance, two semi-private rooms might be renovated at once. By using this method, only four residents will have to move at one time. Their belongings will be held in storage, while their rooms are being renovated.
The common areas and lounges will also receive new furniture.
Firewicz said that extra lighting and handrails will be installed in the corridors. Many of the offices will also undergo similar changes. In addition, the primary nurses’ station will be converted into a concierge desk in order to provide what he says will be a “warmer and inviting environment.”
In order to make areas more inviting for residents and families, a glass wall will be removed from the TV lounge and an electric fireplace will be added below the TV. Residents will also benefit from the removal of a wall between the satellite kitchen and the dining room, making dining room service more efficient.
In addition to these renovations, a small enclosed courtyard will be converted into what Firewicz says will be an “interior activities space” with “an oven, refrigerator and sink for baking and other activities.” He said that residents, with the help of staff, will be able to “bake cookies, slice fruit for a homemade pie, make pancakes for breakfast or blend their favorite milk shake or smoothie.”
Along with the interior courtyard, Firewicz said that the two other existing outdoor courtyards will be “showcased” in a way to promote further use by residents. For instance, new canopies and retractable awnings will be added to both. Because of the local and state approval needed for this part of the renovation, these plans will occur later in the process.
He said both staff and residents will be delighted after the results of the Friendship Village health center’s "Extreme Makeover" are unveiled.
This story originally appeared on Upper St. Clair Patch.