HYATTSVILLE – Elderly care was not the same in 1926, and the sisters who run Sacred Heart Home in Hyattsville think it is time to build a facility that reflects the concern of those needs in 2018.
Plans to build a brand new nursing home facility are in the works and could be moving forward after the Ministry of Sisters Servants of Mary Immaculate, and their attorney presented their idea to the Hyattsville City Council on Dec. 18.
“The main building on this property is a building that was constructed in 1926. So, as you can imagine, it is really past due time to revisit this and to see if this needs to be modernized,” said Larry Taub, representing the sisters.
The building currently houses not only the elderly residents but the sisters who serve them as well. Facilities are in poor condition, said Sister Vacha Kludziak, administrator of the home, with original pipes from the 1920s and many repairs are needed.
Taub described the building as a facility with long hallways and dormitory style rooms which are unviable for renovation while Kludziak said there are insurmountable costs to keeping the building functioning.
“In a building such as this, built that long ago, it is effectively too difficult and too economically unviable to be able to renovate the existing building on site,” Taub said. “It’s just not going to work.”
She and the sisters believe that while the building has served its purposes well over the years, it does not meet the needs of current practices or standards. Health care and elderly care was different in 1926, and it is time for the building housing the patients to meet their needs.
“I have been there for 18 years, and I love what I do, but the biggest challenge is the building,” Kludziak said. “The layout of the building itself is a medical layout. The walls are very thick, so even if we did the renovations, it would not have the outcomes that we would like to have, and it would be very expensive.”
The sisters will be able to provide more comforts to residents with the new proposed layout, she said.
The specific plans are to consolidate the numerous building on the property into two new facilities. As it stands, there are about six buildings, such as an abandoned priest home, storage sheds and a power building, on the 8.91 acres. The proposed new facilities would consist of two attached buildings: one a new convent for the sisters and the second, a brand new nursing home.
Taub said the sisters currently reside within the nursing home in some of the dorm-style rooms. A new convent would give the care that would ultimately provide one place for them to be together.
“There is just not enough room (currently) to house them together,” Taub said. “They really want to have a residence for them to be together.”
The proposed nursing home design consists of pod-style living arrangements with common areas surrounded by patient rooms. There will be four “households” of 11 rooms inside the new building. Each room would have its own bathroom at an increased size.
The capacity of the facility would drop, however, with the new arrangements as the nursing home would have 44 beds available compared to the 100 offered now. The total square footage of the nursing home and convent would drop from 74,545 square feet to 69,430.
Kludziak said the decision to downsize was twofold.
“We said quality more than quantity,” she said referring to the care they want to provide but went on to talk about the hardships of running a large facility, including taxes.
Kludziak said the nursing home has to pay taxes based on how many beds they offer through a “provider’s tax.” The board decided to bring the bed number down to 44 to break even on the development costs.
“One of the reasons also is in the state of Maryland we pay provider’s tax,” she said. “We pay over a million dollars a year in provider taxes, so we don’t have too many choices.”
The sisters and Taub are in the process of completing a detailed site plan that to be reviewed by the county planning board as well as the city’s planning committee. Both the planning board and city are expected to comment on the plan in the first few months of 2018.
If the plans are approved, the building and demolishing stages will overlap, Taub said. The convent will be built first after the smaller buildings are razed, followed by the construction of the new nursing home. Residents will be relocated from the old building to their new rooms once the new facility is built.
After residents are moved, the 1926 building will be demolished.
“I am very excited about the whole project and when I see the drawings, I am even more excited and I am looking forward to seeing a new building with all the accommodations that we can give to the residents, because I think and I feel that they deserve the best,” Kludziak said.