John M. Reed Center Chief Executive Officer Jim McComas cuts the ribbon for the center’s new Memory Care unit.

By LORELEI GOFF

Special to the H&T

The John M. Reed Center welcomed the community to an open house for its new Memory Care unit on Thursday, Aug. 22. Director Brittany Boles estimated that about 100 people attended the open house, which included a ribbon cutting, buffet style dinner with live piano music and tours of the facility.

The Memory Care unit is a secured unit that provides appropriate care for each level of dementia using the GEMS designation, a sequence of precious gems such as pearl, diamond and emerald, to create a standard of care designed for the particular needs of patients at each stage.

Freewill Baptist Ministries bought the center three years ago following the shut down of the at-that-time nursing home under previous management and reopened it nearly two years ago as an assisted living facility. There are currently 20 residents in the assisted living wings and 7 in the Memory Care wing.

Chief Executive Officer Jim McComas cut the ribbon for the new unit in front of the large stone fireplace in the Memory Care living room, flanked by Director of Assisted Living Johnnie Lyons, Director of Nursing Cassie Starnes, Chief Operating Officer Jim Robinette and Director Brittany Boles.

“I think it’s appropriate as we cut this that these two ladies are holding this

ribbon because it is due to their great work and the great staff here that this day is possible,” McComas said of Lyons and Boles. “This is a great day.”

McComas offered a prayer of dedication, giving thanks and asking a blessing on the staff and`that the facility would be a place of happiness and peace for residents and their families.

“We’re super excited to be having this event today and for the turnout we’ve had from the community” said Boles. “We’re overwhelmed with gratitude for the community support and the support of our vendors. We’re excited to offer these memory care services along with our assisted living. This is something that’s a real need in our area. We’ve seen that as we’ve talked with families.”

“The Freewill Baptist Ministries has been a part of my life since I was a little girl,” she added. “Being able to have such a large part in opening this new community within John M. Reed, it means the world to me. We’re here to help people.”

The original construction, which consisted of one wing of the present facility, opened in the early 1950s. Additions enlarged the facility during the 1970s and 1990s. Completion of a hallway in the Memory Care unit this fall will complete the total renovation of the building.

There are 13 apartments in new memory care wing. Residents can join assisted living residents in the atrium for fine dining and events and they have access to the secured and enclosed courtyard, where they are always accompanied by staff. The Memory Care dining room serves as an activity center. Sensory stations are set up around the room to stimulate residents’ memories and help engage them in conversation.

The Memory Care wing is staffed separately from assisted living, with a nurse and two aids round the clock. Assisted Living is also staffed with a nurse and two aids.

Freewill Baptist Family Ministries Director of Assisted Living Johnnie Lyons described the renovated center as a fulfillment of the mission of its namesake, John M. Reed, whom she described as a caring and dedicated man.

“John Reed gave the land and it was built by the Brethren (Church), Lyons said. “His mission was — and these are his words, not mine — that the old people of this community would have a home to go to.”

She added, “We’re trying to make it very homey and very special.”