All the residents at Summerfield Health Care Center are special to the staff that works at the facility, but some patients are even more extraordinary.
Summerfield, which was recently remodeled at a cost of $1.5 million, held an open house to show off their new look. Among the many folks visiting the facility there were some very distinct people. Some wore helmets, some staggered and reeled through the room and others sat quietly.
These folks are some of the extraordinary residents at Summerfield and they have Huntington's disease.
This is an inherited degenerative disease that progressively robs patients of their thinking, control of their emotions and their ability to perform coordinated tasks.
Huntington's typically strikes its victims between the ages of 30 and 50. There is currently no effective treatment or cure for the fatal illness, which affects 30,000 Americans and places another 200,000 at risk.
Summerfield, which offers all the amenities of most nursing homes, has also developed a special niche -- taking care of Huntington patients.
"Indiana has the second highest population of people with Huntington's disease," said facility Administrator Londa Couch.
"Our staff just gets it," she said. "They know how to talk to and treat people with Huntington's. It's not an easy disease to deal with and our other residents work really well with them," said Couch.
The disease causes nerve cells in your brain to waste away. As a result, victims may experience uncontrolled movements, emotional disturbances and mental deterioration.
"They just want to be normal and to be treated normally. We try to do that understanding they have special needs too," added Couch.
Changes can upset the patients but according to Couch and her staff they have adapted very well to the upgrades at the facility.
"We let the residents all help us pick out the colors and materials for the common rooms. I would bring sample after sample in for them to look over," laughed Couch.
The only problem we had was taking away the area called the "gossip bench."
"Boy, oh boy, did I hear about that. We put new chairs and a table there and now they are happy again. It's a very popular area," said Couch.
The United Methodist Homes (UMH) headquartered in Connecticut purchased Summerfield. The facility had been taken over by the bank and UMH was recommended to come in and help find a buyer.
According to Corporate Marketing Manager Michael Myers the company liked the facility and it's uniqueness and decided to add it to their properties. They have seven facilities that operate in Indiana, Tennessee and Connecticut.
"We want to provide residents with as many options as possible," said Myers. "Londa and her staff have had great success with Huntington's patients as well as with the other residents here," he added.
Summerfield is unique and they celebrate that by offering their patients what they need. They have one patient who wants to work and receive a paycheck.
They found a job she could handle and she gets her paycheck every week.
Many of the staff at Summerfield are long timers as well. Stella Welch has worked at the facility for 22 years. She, like many of the residents is a fun-loving character. Her fellow workers tease her about always losing her car and house keys.
"I don't know how many people around here have spare keys to her house and car," laughed a few of her fellow workers. "She is notorious for getting locked out of things."
The best time of year for the residents is coming up with the holidays.
"They all just love Christmas. We have a big family dinner and the place overflows. Santa comes and he has a present for every resident by name," said Couch.
Our neighbors Mike and Jack from Ye Olde Inn next door so all kinds of wonderful things for the residents including providing gifts at Christmas.
"The residents just have a blast," said Couch. "Everyone around here have been wonderful to us here. We're very lucky."
Summerfield Health Care Center is located at 34 S. Main Street, Cloverdale. They are a 43-bed licensed skilled nursing facility. They can be reached at 765-795-4260.