21st century makeover: New York's United Hebrew Geriatric Center celebrates the opening of the new Skalet Pavilion

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21st century makeover: New York's United Hebrew Geriatric Center celebrates the opening of the new S
21st century makeover: New York's United Hebrew Geriatric Center celebrates the opening of the new S
In New Rochelle, NY, near the tidal pools and harbors of the Long Island Sound, United Hebrew Geriatric Center  celebrated the grand opening of a new wing, and the official unveiling of its new design. The old nursing facility, which began its service to the community in 1919 with nine male residents, threw open the doors to the fully remodeled Lola & Saul Kramer Pavilion, and the brand new, 176-bed Lucile & Joseph Skalet Pavilion this May.

Joining future and past

When construction began on the new Skalet Pavilion early in 2008, crews faced the challenge of joining the new building to the older Kramer Pavilion, while maintaining the latter's programs and services. In order to connect the two, a massive exterior wall had to be demolished.

Working part by part, crews took down the exterior wall while installing temporary walls to keep the residents safe, says Laura Guerra, associate with Perkins Eastman Architects. This allowed staff to maintain facility services during construction, but not without some effort and some teamwork, according to Rita Malbi, president and CEO of UHGC.

The biggest challenge came when renovations reached the resident rooms and dining halls.

“We had to make alternative arrangements,” Malbi explains. New areas were created for residents to eat and relax while crews were busy retrofitting and redesigning the rooms. To help minimize disruptions to the residents, crews worked on only one floor at a time, and staff from almost every department chipped in to help transport residents to and from different areas of the facility.

Sinking the titanic

“One of the things in doing my own research that was important to me was not to create what I've always referred to as ‘titanic nurses stations,'” Malbi says.

Shorter residents or residents with limited mobility, possibly in wheel chairs, might approach such a large, traditional nurses station and not be able to tell whether there's actually a nurse on duty, she explains. To make sure no resident faced such a barrier

to his or her care, all the nurses stations, and even the reception desk, have areas where any resident, regardless of height or mobility, can see exactly what's going on behind the counter at all times.

“I think that that will be something that's very, very important for all residents in order to never wonder, ‘Is there someone there?'” Malbi says.

A facility apart

The new Skalet Pavilion contains 176 resident rooms, but what sets this facility apart from others in New York, say Guerra and Malbi, is that each and every one of them is a private room, complete with private bathroom. Every room is also part of a neighborhood, which includes all the amenities of home, such as a dining room, living room and family room, where residents can gather with their loved ones in a cozy environment.