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Heritage House is old -- and new

A dozen years ago, Cora Nagel and her sister began caring for elderly persons in a home on Blackduck's north side.

Today, with new owners and more remodeling accomplished in the intervening years, that home has become Heritage House. It's owned now by Jim and Kathy Birchen of Little Falls, who also own Havenwood and related senior housing facilities in Bemidji.

In the fall of 2006, Mary Barnard moved here as manager and since then has been involved in overseeing the remodeling project which began a year ago in May. Rooms were enlarged, bathrooms added and ramps rebuilt to fully comply with all building codes.

"It involved a lot of moving around but the residents and the staff couldn't have been more cooperative," she says.

Heritage House is currently home to nine residents -- they have room for two more -- and is an assisted living facility which encourages an independent lifestyle.

"We treat them all like family," Barnard says, "just the way I'd treat my own mom, dad or my grandparents. They get three good meals every day and snacks when they want them, housekeeping is taken care of for them and so is laundry."

When new residents move in, she said, they're encouraged to bring with them a favorite piece of furniture, a picture or wall-hanging they've enjoyed over the years -- "things that will make them feel at home when they come to live with us," Barnard says.

Barnard adds that activities are planned around resident's free time and the daily routine includes walks and other exercise. Literature outlines its purpose as "specifically designed to meet the special needs of the elderly who are need of services to maintain their independence."

Features include 24-hour supervision and care and medication administration.

"Families are always welcome to visit," Barnard says, and visits by children are encouraged.

As in many assisted living facilities, the cost of care is based on an individual assessment. Options include private pay, elderly waiver and alternative care, with Heritage House assisting in working with Social Services.