When officials from St. Ann’s Community wanted to announce the start of a major, $75-million construction project during the middle of winter, they decided to forgo an outdoor groundbreaking with ceremonial gold shovels due to frigid temperatures and snow-covered ground.
Instead, several residents on Feb. 3 cut caution tape strung between construction barrels as video of a groundbreaking played in the background.
Thought the gesture was largely symbolic, since site work started in October and building foundations have begun to take shape on St. Ann’s Irondequoit and Webster campuses, the construction kickoff was welcomed by residents.
"We love it," said Phyllis Gerard, who moved into St. Ann’s Home in Irondequoit four years ago. "I’ve been here a long time, and we were waiting for this."
The project was originally announced in the fall of 2009, when officials noted they had received a $17.587-million grant from the state Department of Health. The grant was intended to help St. Ann’s Community reduce its nursing-home beds by 49, saving the state an estimated $3.2 million per year in Medicaid long-term-care expenses.
The $75 million project comprises:
Construction on the new buildings is expected to be completed by March 2012. The demolition of The Heritage is expected to begin at that time, and the entire project is expected to be complete in July 2012.
Betty Mullin-DiProsa, president and CEO of St. Ann’s Community, noted that the project will allow residents of Cherry Ridge to continue living at the facility even if they need a more intensive level of care as they age.
In addition to the construction, the project aims to put residents’ needs and wants at the center of care decisions, a concept that St. Ann’s Community officials call person-centered care. As part of this type of care, the facility is encouraging staff members to work as a team so that there is better cooperation and coordination on the care of every resident, Mullin-DiProsa noted.
"It’s about quality of life, and quality of life provided in a very creative and progressive way," said County Executive Maggie Brooks, who noted that the project qualified for tax-exempt civic facility bonds financed through Monroe County’s Industrial Development Corp.
Mullin-DiProsa said that although the construction will result in a decrease of beds, staffing needs should remain the same, since the transitional-care beds will require a higher level of staffing than those of long-term-care beds.
Jim Leo, head of the capital campaign for St. Ann’s Foundation, which is raising $7.2 million in funds for the project, noted that the campaign has already raised $3 million, including contributions from anonymous donors, St. Ann’s board members, the staff of St. Ann’s Community and volunteers with St. Ann’s Angels program.
During the construction kickoff, officials showed a video that traced the history of St. Ann’s Community back to the Home of Industry and noted its connections with the Diocese of Rochester and the Sisters of St. Joseph; the congregation operated St. Ann’s Community from 1873 to 1997.
"We come from very good stock, and we are continuing to grow," Mullin-DiProsa said.