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Sandy Bensen, North Country Health Services vice president of Senior and Community Living Services, displays a model unit of a studio apartment at Trillium Memory Care, which opens Monday. The facility, which features 18 studios and nine one-bedroom apartments, was showcased Thursday during an open house. Pioneer Photo/Laurie Swenson

North Country Health Services: Trillium Memory Care showcased

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North Country Health Services: Trillium Memory Care showcased
Bemidji Minnesota P.O. Box 455 56619

People with memory illnesses have a new place to consider calling home.

North Country Health Services unveiled Trillium Memory Care Thursday in an open house for the secure senior living facility, which comprises 18 studios and nine one-bedroom apartments.

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Part of WoodsEdge Senior Living Campus, Trillium is adjacent to Nielson Place and the soon-to-be-completed WindSong, which will feature 80 catered living apartments when it opens in November.

NCHS CEO Jim Hanko praised the NCHS Board of Trustees for having the courage to agree to another capital project.

"All three facilities are jewels in long-term care and senior housing in northern Minnesota, and I think we could safely say jewels in the state and perhaps even a broader region," Hanko said.

Hanko, who will retire at the end of the month, has brought his vision and leadership to many health care projects in Bemidji, Board of Trustees Chair Kari Howe said.

"We wanted him to be a part of this process and this grand opening as we celebrate Jim's ... being our leader at the helm for the last 11 years," Howe said.

"It was a big decision for the board to take this leap and make an investment like this in our community," she said. "Once we started it, we never looked back. We knew it was the right decision, and we know it's going to be great for not only the Bemidji community, but the region."

Trillium has received Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification, Hanko pointed out.

"We have 120-plus geothermal wells that will provide heating and air conditioning," he said, noting that the wells will pay for themselves in several years.

Steve Ordahl, senior vice president of Ecumen Development, the Shoreville, Minn.-based company that guided the housing development expansion, said he believes Trillium is the first LEED-certified senior housing facility in Minnesota and one of the first in the nation.

"Ecumen is so proud to be involved in the community of Bemidji and North County in making this project happen," Ordahl said. "You have assembled a great team. My hat is off to you. Ecumen stands ready to help whenever and however you want us to help."

Hanko recognized the work of NCHS staff and the Board of Trustees, as well as Ecumen, Kraus-Anderson Construction Company, Pope Architects and O'Keefe Incorporated/Brothers Distributing, which were responsible for the woodworking and cabinetry.

"The real vision and what moved us forward in leadership and brought ourselves where we are today is Sandy Bensen (NCHS vice president of Senior and Community Living Services)," Hanko said. "Persistence is often what you need. The first time she brought this up was five or six years ago. Obviously, we're doing it today, so she had to bring it up again and again. Sandy, thank you for bringing it up again and again."

Four units in Trillium have been rented, Benson said during a tour of the facility. Two units will be occupied Monday. Residents will move into the other two units Tuesday.

Mounted on the outside walls of the units are secure memory boxes that can hold mementos that have special significance to residents.

"It often will help people with dementia to recognize their room," Bensen said, adding that the mementos are pleasing for residents to see and show to others.

A safety feature inside the units is QuietCare, wireless motion sensors placed at strategic locations that track a resident's activity. When there is significant change in movement, QuietCare alerts staff.

At the ends of the wings are special spaces, including a sunroom, a workshop and a gardening room that leads to a secure patio highlighted by the Lorraine Clementson Memorial Gardens.

The striking gardens were donated and are maintained by a family member in memory of Clementson, who formerly lived at Nielsen Place. The "Leaf Lady" metal sculpture by Bemidji sculptor Al Belleveau was a welcome addition to the garden area, Bensen said.

For more information or to schedule a tour, contact Hayley McKeon, NCHS marketing coordinator, at 333-6211 or hmckeon@nchs.com.

lswenson@bemidjipioneer.com

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Pioneer staff reports
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