HOLDEN, Mass. — Oriol Health Care outlined its renovation plans before the Holden Board of Selectmen Tuesday night, which will include the consolidation of its two facilities, Holden Nursing Home and Wachusett Extended Care, into one state-of-the-art building, and the development of the former Holden Hospital site.
"The new facility will allow us to bring both of those nursing units together," said construction manager, John Boyce, "Holden nursing home presently is the long-term care facility, and the new extension of the building will include three major additions and one minor addition, and a very extensive remodeling of the entire facility."
Holden Nursing Home was builit in 1964, and Robert Oriol, President and CEO, explained that because health care has changed in the last fifty years, "there are changes and upgrades that we need to do in order to ensure our next fifty years."
For instance, while the older nursing home was "a convalescent place," Oriol said that while there is still a need for that, nursing homes have turned into post-acute nursing centers.
"Years ago, if you would go to the Holden District Hospital and if you had an operation you'd be there for two weeks," said Oriol. "Now, you're lucky if you're in the hospital for 24 hours, and then you go to a post-acute facility or subacute facility for your recovery."
Oriol's campus initiative's new sub-acute facility will serve patients in recovery, and the rehab center will include physical therapy and occupational therapy.
"This will address the needs certainly for Holden and the greater Wachusett area," said Boyce.
The new Holden rehab center will have three nursing units: long term care, sub-acute rehabilitation care, and respitory care. The lower level of the new facility will house corporate facilities, and have a state-of-the-art kitchen.
The overall bed capacity will be reduced from 143 licensed beds to 123, but Oriol said one of the major aspects that the new facility will offer is its overabundance of private rooms.
"We're really addressing the needs of non-geriatric patients," Boyce said. "We used to have residents — first we started with patients, we went to residents, and we're now making the swing back to patients, people that are going to be there from four to seven to ten days, and they're looking for more private facilities."
Overall parking will be reduced, and staffing will also be slightly reduced due to the decrease in beds and consolidation of services, such as the operation of only one kitched instead of two.
Oriol said that they were trying to give patients the most independent living accomodations and provide the care they need.
Furthermore, though there will be a reduction of 20 beds, Oriol said "you can expect us to be offering additional services for elders as an alternative."
"When my father started this facility years ago it was Holden Nursing Home, now we have all sorts of other initiatives: assisted living, surpervised living. You could expect Oriol Health Care to go into those areas," said Oriol, who said the selectboard would be seeing them in the years to come as they plan out their next initiative for different types of care.
"This is very exciting to have a major construction project," said Selectmen Renzoni, "most people tell you there's no construction in Holden, and we're going to see a major project bring some business into our town."
As for the timeline for construction, Boyce said if everything is approved "we should have shovels in the ground by early November," and though project duration should be 16-18 months, they are trying to accelerate that to about 62 weeks.
Selectmen Ken O'Brien said that this was a great project and was happy to see the vision become a reality, adding that "one of the things the town really is is a residential community, and there's a big need and a big desire for residents in the community to remain in the community."
As for the Holden Hospital site, Oriol said that they would "love to find an alternative use for that property," and that Boyce has been tasked with exploring it.