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Heritage House, Good Samaritan Society and Cornerstone Residence celebrate National Assisted Living Week

Warm, welcoming and friendly are only a few words that can be used to describe the Heritage House Assisted Living residence in Blackduck. In honor of the facility's efforts as well as every assisted living complex in the country, next week is National Assisted Living Week.

According to David Kyllo, the National Center for Assisted Living executive director, this year's theme, "Traditions of the Heart" pays tribute to the personal connection that caregivers, relatives and volunteers have with nearly 1 million people residing in more than 38,000 assisted living and residential care communities nationwide.

"I think this year's theme is really unique," said Heritage House Director Mary Barnard, who has been with the facility for three years. "The name really says it all."

For more than 10 years, the NCAL has dedicated time and effort into making assisted living an enjoyable experience for everyone involved. The Heritage House does just that.

"In honor of National Assisted Living Week, we're planning a picnic for our residents, their relatives and our staff," said Barnard. "Our residents are our family. We treat and love them if they were our own parents or grandparents."

Barnard and the rest of the staff at the Heritage House is proud of their newly remodeled facility and they want to make a difference in people's lives.

"We believe having people feel safe and secure in this home and helping them live the best life they can for as long as they can," she said. "Our doors are always open and anyone can come in for a tour. Someone is always here."

Each of the eight residents living at the Heritage House has a private bedroom and bathroom as well as community space for activities and meals.

"We hope that with each day, next week especially shows our residents how special they are to us," Barnard said.

Good Samaritan Society

The new assisted living facility in Blackduck has been years in the planning and making and is now a dream come true, not only for its residents but for the staff as well.

Being able to surround themselves with familiar possessions for the residents gives them a "feeling of home." Apartments are furnished with new appliances and are air conditioned and heated by a geothermal system.

Administrator Maryann Hanson says the system, despite its initial cost, will pay for itself within six to seven years. The system itself has a life expectancy of 100 years.

The project involved drilling 64 wells 150 feet in depth to tap into the year-round ground temperature of 55°. Heat is extracted in the winter to heat apartments, and heat from the units is pumped back into the ground during the summer to provide cooling.

As part of a rebate plan, the facility was recently given a $15,000 check from Beltrami Electric on behalf of the geothermal system rebate program.

Housing manager Kim Marty stressed that the Society's mission is to provide a place where there's more to life than just amenities and facilities. Referring to a pamphlet outlining considerations in selecting a new home, "seniors will discover the difference between finding a place to stay and finding one you never want to leave."

Cornerstone Residence

The Cornerstone Residence in Kelliher, once a nursing home, became an assisted living reality in the fall of 2007. Prior to that time, the Kelliher Care Center nursing home had been owned by the Good Samaritan Society until 1990 when it was purchased by Allen and Judy Potvin.

Housing manager Rosa Lossing said the facility now has provision for residents in 22 individual units with a range of accommodations and extras.

A whirlpool bath with handicap accessibility was among them. A fireplace room includes a card table, site of frequent games among residents. The dining room at one end offers comfortable seating in front of a big screen TV.

The kitchen is another sort of extra for it not only provides meals for residents but also for the Meals on Wheels program that serves another dozen persons regularly within the Kelliher area.

Residents include those paying privately or receiving assistance under various state and federal programs, with the staff providing help in applying for aid under those programs.

"We like to think of this as a family kind of home," Lossing said, "a place where we all pitch in to do what's necessary. Like a family."

In a way it is, since about half the staff of 19 workers are related either directly or through marriage. In a small community, that's not unusual. Here it evidently makes for the kind of bonding in which everyone feels a share of responsibility for the care and comfort of residents.