Hendricks County Flyer, Avon, IN

February 1, 2013

New health center set to open in Avon

By Wade Coggeshall
CNHI

AVON — Mainstreet Property Group and Life Care Services have broken ground on their latest health and wellness center.

Wellbrooke of Avon, a 66,350-square foot facility, is expected to open in July across County Road 100 North from IU Health West. A $14.4 million development, it's expected to bring up to 100 full-time jobs and up to 300 during construction.

Its design is considered a next-generation model for health care, especially when compared to traditional nursing homes. Dennis Dechow, vice president of development for the Indiana-based Mainstreet, said that latter concept started in the 1960s.

"At the time, the model was to give care similar to a hospital, where all the care was brought to your room," Dechow said. "With our model, we provide a number of social areas within the building."

Those include a game room, theater, cafe, multiple restaurants, even a pub. Residents will also go to a rehabilitation facility within the building rather than stay in their rooms.

"Our thought was to provide those opportunities for people to get out of their rooms and work to get better and get home," Dechow said.

About 70 percent of Wellbrooke of Avon's residential apartments will be for short-term care. The rest will have a more assisted-living component. Those are decorated with a kitchenette, large bathroom, and separated living room and bedroom.

"That can vary by the level of care you need," Dechow said. "There is a menu of options the operator provides."

Mainstreet executives have known their counterparts in the Des Moines-based LCS for years and discussed collaborating on a next-generation care model.

"This was born of familiarity, where our teams knew about their level of care and what they offered," Dechow said. "They heard about what we're doing. Since our executives and theirs had already made a connection, it was natural to ask how we could partner."

Jonathan Cook, Life Care Services' director of operations management, says hospitality is increasingly important to today's retiring baby boomers. He compares it to the family vacation. In the '60s and '70s it was common to stay in lodges with few amenities. Now such places offer a variety of added luxuries.

"Unfortunately I think the senior care industry is a little behind the times," Cook said. "We make hospitality paramount for our organization and make it the forefront of all our employee training."

He can't quantify whether focusing on this helps patients heal better and faster, but notes the majority of LCS facilties get four- and five-star reviews.

"I certainly believe if someone's having a better experience, it contributes to their overall wellness," Cook said.

Dechow said jobs at Wellbrooke of Avon will include both a nursing and hospitality component. Aside from a nursing staff, they'll also hire an event coordinator, concierge, and food service workers, among other positions.

Other facilities are under construction in Crawfordsville, Westfield, and Wabash. Dechow said Avon was chosen because executives think it's a strong market within the metro Indianapolis market. They especially like Wellbrooke of Avon's proximity to IU Health West.

"We feel there aren't any facilities on the westside currently that offer our options or the level of care we can provide," Dechow said.

Mike Rogers, Avon Town Council president, said in a press release that local officials are thrilled that Mainstreet is investing in the community.

"We are working to become known as an educational and workforce development corridor," Rogers said. "We believe having schools such as Ivy Tech College and Trine University is an example of how we continue to strengthen our community to attract and retain companies such as Mainstreet. The skilled jobs that will be created in this state-of-the-art center for health and wellness will be a welcomed addition to the area."

Avon Town Manager Tom Klein added, "It's another development along the Ronald Reagan Parkway corridor that just opened up all the way to Interstate 70."

Mainstreet and LCS are expanding into other states too, including Illinois. They may open facilities in the near future at Ohio and Texas. They consider their model a leading design for the future implementation of health care.

"We understand we won't be the only ones doing this," Dechow said. "Consumers will demand a different level of care. They want better and different options than what (typical nursing homes) allow."

For more information, visit the website at WellbrookeOfAvon.com.

wade.coggeshall@flyergroup.com