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Assisted-living center planning to expand
By Missy Turner (from the San Antonio Business Journal, July 31, 1998)

The Barton House at Oakwell Farms will soon gain a 2O-bed addition that will more than double the size of the assisted-living center, according to company officials.

The addition will be a free-standing residential-style facility that will house 20 beds in about 9,000 square feet of space, according to John Trevey, chief executive officer of Austin-based Uncommon Care Inc., which owns the Barton House.

The Barton House provides assisted-living care specifically for people who have Alzheimer's or other related dementia diseases. Assisted living involves care that is not as intensive as a nursing home, but still offers assistance with the daily tasks of living, such as dressing or bathing.

The addition will be located on Lynn Batts Lane, off Harry Wurzbach on the Northeast Side, next to the original Barton House facility. The existing facility houses 16 beds in about 7,000 square feet of space. That facility opened in July, 1997.

"It's next door to the original facility, so it utilizes our resources really well. It's all in one general area, but the environment is still a small stand-alone," says Jennifer Scott, director of marketing for Uncommon Care.

Ground breaking for the new unit is slated for Aug. 1. Construction is expected to be completed by next spring. Total development costs are expected to total about $1.7 million, Trevey says.

All 20 rooms in the addition will be private rooms. Barton House facilities are all private-pay.

Total staff size for the addition will be about 15 people, according to Scott.  Like the existing local Barton House, the addition will have a staff-to-resident ratio of about one to six, she adds.  Each building has its own activities director as well.

Uncommon Care officials elected to build a second facility in San Antonio due to an extensive waiting list at the existing Barton House, Trevey says.

"We have a waiting list for beds at our current facility. So, we're just trying to meet our current need," he says.

Uncommon Care is not alone in its quest to fill the niche for specialized assisted-living services.

A 36 bed assisted-living facility called Villa Serena opened here earlier this year.The facility is affiliated with the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. Villa Serena offers specialized care for people with Alzheimer's or other related dementia diseases, says Torn Elin, principal of University Eldercare, which owns Villa Serena.

In addition, Merrill Gardens at San Antonio recently opened three free-standing cottage homes that each house 10 residents. The assisted-living center built the addition for people suffering from dementia and related diseases to meet local demand, says Suzy Schumacher a spokeswoman for the facility.

"I think there is a lack (of beds for dementia illnesses). A recent study of the area showed there's 63,000 people in the city and the surrounding area that are caring for an Alzheimer's family member in the home," Schumacher says. "So, there is a tremendous need."

Uncommon Care is already looking at others markets in which to locate new facilities, including Houston, Dallas, Fort Worth and Phoenix.  Currently, a new facility is already under construction in Houston. The company has three existing facilities, including two in Austin and one in San Antonio.

However, some local industry observers say they aren't as optimistic about the demand for more facilities dedicated to the care of people with dementia illnesses.

The Kingsley Place assisted-living center currently has empty beds in its memory-impaired units, according to Mary Ann Michaels, executive director of Kingsley Place at Medical Center.  That facility opened a 22-bed unit in January that currently has six residents. The Kingsley Place at Oakwell Farms also has had a 22-bed unit open since March that is half full, she says.

Elin says San Antonio currently has a surplus of beds, as companies continue to open facilities banking on the aging Baby Boomer population.

When does the tide get here?  Right now, there's empty beds.   The question is can they wait for the Boomers to get there," Elin says.   "It's not far away, but it's enough that you can't count on them."

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About this page: Article from the San Antonio Business Journal courtesy of Barton House, an Alzheimer's care facility located in Sugar Land, Texas.
 2229 Williams Trace Blvd.   |   Sugar Land, TX 77478   |   (281) 313-2500

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