Architectural designs for the new Sage Living nursing home are done, bids for construction are out and shovels should be in the ground in July.

As St. John’s Medical Center and the St. John’s Hospital Foundation move closer to beginning construction this summer, details about the center and what it will provide are coming to light.

The structure will be two stories, with 16 memory-care beds and 16 acute rehabilitation beds on the first floor. The second floor will house 40 longterm nursing care beds. The design is best described as modern, in line with the minimalistic square exterior look that has cropped up on other Jackson properties.

Families should expect to pay between $8,000 and $10,000 per month for a spot.

Overall, the center will contain 72 beds, most in private bedrooms, a selling point for the facility. A few will be structured for couples.

“We did have some couples that came to us and said, ‘I’ve been with this person for my whole life, we’re aging at the same time, we’d like to go into a space together,’” CEO Dr. Paul Beaupre said.

The care areas will be structured into “neighborhoods” that have their own dining room, serving kitchen and living room. The neighborhoods will be interspersed with other rooms — like a town hall space for meetings and a separate room for art classes and music therapy, the latter of which occur in the dining room at St. John’s Living Center.

Residents will be invited to bring some items from home, pick from a palette of colors and have the ability to customize some furniture in their rooms, which will be roughly a third larger than now offered.

With many of the rooms designed as private suites, Sage Living will offer more of a retreat for residents, Director of Senior Living Malenda Hoelscher said.

“Right now with the shared rooms, the community shower, we’ve lost all that,” she said. “In Sage Living they will have their room, their sanctuary, their space.”

Rooms have also been designed with the view in mind. They will have taller windows that allow residents a vista, even while lying down.

“We’re really pleased with how the residents’ feedback early on and what we heard from the public came to fruition throughout the process,” Hoelscher said.

The secure memory support area will vary slightly, including having larger suites. Residents may also wear pendant technology that allows staff to track their location. There will be other differences as well, including a Snoezelen room, a therapeutic environment created to stimulate patients with dementia, that is incorporated into the floor plan; changes to colors and floor patterns will be kept to a minimum to avoid confusing residents; and the dining room will likely have an aquarium, which a 1999 Purdue University study found may increase patients’ appetite.

The hospital is partnering with outside entities to train staff and learn best practices for memory care.

A guaranteed maximum price for construction is expected in May. Between the May 2017 special purpose excise tax vote of $17 million, the hospital’s contribution of $9 million and donations to the foundation of $15 million, the project is estimated to total $42 million.

“We’re cautiously optimistic that the funds will be available, but we’re also trying to watch carefully from the sidelines as they do their dance between architect and the construction manager and the subcontractors,” St. John’s Hospital Foundation President John Goettler said.

The hospital’s board of trustees will need to approve the final cost. That total wouldn’t include the additional staffing, an estimated eight to 10 people, needed for the new facility.

A pro forma, or an expected financial document, found that under certain circumstances Sage Living could free the medical center of the $1 million to $1.5 million in subsidies it spends annually to support its current nursing home.

Such a scenario envisions full memory care and longterm living units, as well as six of the 16 rooms in the acute rehab also in use. The calculation also projects two-thirds of rehab patients are federally insured and one-third have private insurance, and longterm care residents stick with the same insurance trend of 60 percent Medicaid, 40 percent private.

“We are no longer including [Sage Living] as something we have to underwrite on a yearly basis,” Beaupre said. “So that’s a gift for this community for the longterm sustainability of this hospital.”

The acute rehabilitation center, which will include a therapy gym, would take patients who need months of rehab, such as patients with congestive heart failure or chronic diseases.

“Those are areas we weren’t able to offer before,” Beaupre said. “We’re going to be able to offer them now because of this facility.”

Resident applications are being accepted on a case-by-case basis through construction. Approximately a half-dozen families are on the wait list.

Contact Kylie Mohr at 732-7079 or

Recommended for you

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Please note: Online comments may also run in our print publications.
Keep it clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Please turn off your CAPS LOCK.
No personal attacks. Discuss issues & opinions rather than denigrating someone with an opposing view.
No political attacks. Refrain from using negative slang when identifying political parties.
Be truthful. Don’t knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be proactive. Use the “Report” link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with us. We’d love to hear eyewitness accounts or history behind an article.
Use your real name: Anonymous commenting is not allowed.
The News&Guide welcomes comments from our paid subscribers. Tell us what you think. Thanks for engaging in the conversation!

Thank you for reading!

Please log in, or sign up for a new account and purchase a subscription to read or post comments.