A new $4 million addition to Legacy Heights and Memory Lane in Van Buren meant specifically for the care of residents suffering from Alzheimer’s was dedicated Thursday at the First Assembly of God Church.
About 300 attended the dedication of the new Alzheimer’s special care unit, during which city and church officials spoke on the quality of the facility and thanked those who helped bring it about.
Rev. Bobby Johnson, senior pastor with the church, presided over the dedication.
"The people who are going to reside in this facility will not realize how beautiful it is, but their families will. It will be a great comfort to them," Johnson said during the ceremony.
Able to house 40 Alzheimer’s and dementia patients, the unit has two separate pods each with 20 private rooms, a courtyard and walking trail, nursing quarters, salons and spas, separate dining rooms, a movie room, activities room, and saferoom. The unit will be staffed with about 25 nurses and assistants.
Van Buren Mayor Bob Freeman said the facility will help fill the growing need in the community for Alzheimer’s patient care.
"This is a contribution, not just for this church, but for our community and the entire region," Freeman said. "We know we’ve got an aging population and with that comes particular challenges. This facility and this church have reached out to meet those challenges."
Doug Clay, general treasurer for the General Council of the Assemblies of God, said during the dedication that 1 in 8 people 65 or older are expected to be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and more than 5,500 Americans become 65 each day.
An anonymous donor granted the church $5 million to build the 34,000-square-foot Alzheimer’s unit. About $4 million went into construction of the new addition, with the other million going for operation costs, equipment and decorations, said Darron Ming, executive director of Legacy Heights and Memory Lane and director of men’s ministry with the church.
Living areas have been decorated with leather rockers and sofas and Norman Rockwell paintings, while display cases around the courtyards hold memorabilia from the first half of the 20th century.
Ming and Debra Johnson, assistant executive director for Memory Lane, said the surroundings are meant to give the residents and their families a feeling of home.
"It’s our firm belief that as long as there is breath, there’s a capacity for life; not just any life, but quality life," Debra Johnson said. "That our residents should be treated with dignity and respect, that’s what Memory Lane is about."
A ceremonial ribbon cutting and Van Buren Chamber of Commerce Business After Hours will be held at the new facility Tuesday beginning at 5:15 p.m.