Arbor Grace 1

Arbor Grace, a nursing facility here, is preparing to open its new $6.4 million expansion. Administrator Jim Kale is hoping for a grand opening in August, he said. The expansion has a 100-seat dining room, 30 Medicare beds, a new therapy gym, administrative offices, and two courtyards.

Arbor Grace of Kilgore is nearly ready to open the 20,000 square foot extension to its current 26,000 square foot facility.

“We have completed the project,” said Jim Kale, Arbor Grace’s administrator. “We’re waiting on the remaining of the artwork. All the furniture is in, the painting is being finished up. We’re waiting on the drapery. In two weeks, we’re supposed to have our Life Safety Code inspection from the state of Texas. And that’s what we’re waiting on. Once they sign off, then we can open. So we’re ready.”

The $6.4 million expansion, located at 2700 South Henderson Boulevard, doesn’t have a date set for the grand opening, but Kale is hoping for one in August. Their number one priority is getting the inspection done, he said.

The expansion has a 100-seat dining room, 30 Medicare beds, a new therapy gym, administrative offices, and two courtyards. One is named after the Kilgore College Rangerettes, while the other is named after famous Kilgore pianist Van Cliburn.

“One thing is it has new equipment,” Kale said. “It has a beautiful setting, with brand new furniture. It’s going to have brand new flat screen TVs. It has 22 private rooms that have (22) private baths. That’s what makes it special. The rooms are set up like a home like environment, and then there are four semi-private rooms that will be used for maybe family members or a couple or siblings, or something like that.”

Arbor Grace is owned by Paramount Healthcare out of West Monroe, Louisiana. Paramount operates six nursing homes in Texas and eight in Louisiana. They purchased Arbor Grace in 2013, and the facility moved to its current location in November 2017. Before becoming Arbor Grace, it was Gregg Home for the Aged, which began in 1958.

“The company felt like Kilgore was a really good place to invest in this expansion, and Kilgore has been very supportive in helping the company with lots of things to get this project done,” Kale said.

Arbor Grace currently has 60 residents, and it is licensed for 97. Kale said they have applied for an additional 30 Medicare beds, so with the expansion they can potentially have up to 127 people.

“Our whole facility, you know, we have long term care,” he said. “We’re gonna have short-stay. Eventually we will have outpatient services. We take private pay, Medicare, and Medicaid. We do Medicaid pending on a case-by-case basis. We have excellent care, excellent customer service.”

Kale said they see a variety of patients.

“We have some patients that are Medicare,” he said. “They’ve come from the hospital, and they’re in our facility 20 to 100 days to recover from maybe an illness, a stroke, heart attack, broken hip, something like that, and then they go home. We also have patients, or we call them residents, that live full time. We call them long term.”

Since Gov. Abbott announced the lockdown in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Arbor Grace has been screening all employees and vendors that have to come into the facility.

Employees and anyone else who must enter, such as physicians, have their temperatures checked upon entry and every four hours.

Two patients tested positive as well as one employee, Kale said, and they followed CDC and CMS protocol, keeping a COVID unit until the residents tested negative and could return to their rooms.

Social activities have been challenging since the pandemic, but they’re doing what they can.

“Our residents can’t leave, they can’t visit with their families, however we do video chat, we do telephone conference with their family members,” Kale said. “We do Facetime, we do Zoom, we do Whatsapp. We use a lot of different technology to allow our residents to visit with their families.

“As far as activities, we continue to do bingo. We do what we call hall bingo. Our residents have to stay either in their room or there’ll come to their doorway, and we help them set up with bingo, and we’ll call bingo over the intercom. We do that lots of times, and we have lots of activities that vary. We do have porch time where we take our residents out on the back deck and we allow them to get fresh air and sunshine, but they have to remain six feet apart.”

Kale is ecstatic about the expansion and said that the residents are excited too.

“I think it brings a sense of newness, because it makes them feel like they’re special too, and so as soon as we get the new part open, we’re going to start working on refurbishing the older part of the building, which, fresh paint, new bathrooms, those types of things,” he said. “Whenever you have something new like that, it just makes you feel better.”

It also brings benefit to the Kilgore community at large.

“I think the community is really excited about our expansion project because not only is it going to boost our community and our economy, it’s going to open up some new relationships that we need,” Kale said. “It’s gonna create some just awesome opportunities for us to blend and to bind together with other parts and healthcare partners in our community. It’s gonna be awesome.”

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