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New Valley Health Services (VHS) facility will help seniors in need of assisted living

By STEPHANIE SORRELL-WHITE
Telegram Staff Writer

HERKIMER — In October, health officials, business leaders and members of the community gathered at Valley Residential Services for a ribbon cutting and tours at the new facility.
The facility — with an opening now slated for some time in March — is an assisted living campus for senior citizens.

“It brings a level of care to the region that has not existed in the past and it completes the continuum of long-term care,” said Kathleen Eisenhut, assistant administrator at Valley Health Services.

In numbers provided by Valley Health Services during the ribbon cutting in October, 13 percent of the population will be 65 or older by 2019, and 25 percent of the area's population will be 65 or older by 2030. It also states that 629 older adults in the area are currently in need of assisted housing options.

“The response has been overwhelming,” said Eisenhut, of the number of people who are interested in the facility’s services. “Several years ago, we did a feasibility study which showed there is a strong need in the area, which is why we pursued this project.”
Eisenhut said previously the closest sort of care could be found in Utica.

Eisenhut said they are now looking at a March opening, while they wait for final approval from the state Health Department. She said this approval is “imminent.” In the meantime, Eisenhut said within the next week or two, they will be screening potential residents, and they are currently in the process of hiring and orientating staff.

The Adirondack lodge style facility, located at 161 Valley Drive, has 48-beds, with one of the rooms allowing for a couple to stay together. The rooms include a kitchenette, a living area, a bedroom and a bathroom. Nurses will be staffed at the facility 24 hours a day, seven days a week to help meet the needs of its future residents.

Residents will have access to personal care, room and board, housekeeping, personal emergency response services, nursing care, physical, occupational and speech therapies, medical supplies and equipment and case management services.

VHS officials have said it will promote independence for older adults with limited financial resources who might otherwise not receive services or be forced to move into a much more costly skilled-nursing facility.

The opening of the facility brings 27 full-time jobs, featuring a variety of positions, including administration, nurses, housekeeping, chefs and maintenance workers. There will also be a learning laboratory on the grounds to help train approximately 40 health care workers for the workforce every year.

“The training center is to help support the programs that we offer,” said Eisenhut. “Valley Health has always had a strong working relationship with each of the education institutions in the area, including Herkimer BOCES and Herkimer College. We wanted to make this training site available to those in the community as well.”

She also said some classes will be available for the residents.
The groundbreaking at the site was held in September 2013, where open fields, woods and a pond will contribute to the setting of the facility. The nearly $12 million project came to fruition within a year’s time, with the help of about $5.2 million in state grants.

The 220-acre site, which is adjacent to the East Herkimer Fish and Game Club, was sold to Valley Health from Anna Lyga and Mary Anne Lesniak. The family had said they wanted the property used for the benefit of the community.