Renovation upgrades encourage interaction at Shelton's Bishop Wicke Center

The nursing stations at the Bishop Wicke Health and Rehabilitation Center have been redesigned to be more inviting to visiting family members.

They are now called “interdisciplinary work centers,” and the goal was to make them approachable as a way to encourage more informal interaction between guests and staff.

The “new setting” includes lounge sitting areas and computers accessible to guests.

The facility on Long Hill Avenue received a waiver from the state for the initiative, considered an “out of the box” idea for a site offering long-term care. It was completed as part of a recent $2-million renovation project.

The upgrades are helping the nonprofit United Methodist Homes (UMH) continue to fulfill the “resident-centered mission” it has pursued since 1874, according to UMH officials.

'It's time to thank you appropriately'

Last week, a ceremony was held to unveil the renovations at Bishop Wicke. Invited were local dignitaries, donors and other guests.

“It’s time for us to thank you appropriately,” UMH President and CEO David M. Lawlor told the gathering, held outside near a small pond on the 40-acre Wesley Village campus.

Lawlor said $400,000 was raised through donations for the upgrades to the 120-bed facility, despite the challenging economic times. Other funds were secured through a loan.

He said UMH wanted to spend the money on a variety of improvements, not just one or two major items. “Our big challenge was to do something that touched everyone’s lives,” Lawlor said of the approach that was taken.

In addition to altering the nursing stations, upgrades included new dining areas, therapy rooms, flooring, ceilings, lighting, and furniture.

Many longtime employees

Lawlor noted that about half of Bishop Wicke’s employees have worked at the facility for at least 10 years, and two have been there since it opened 45 years ago.

“We have a very compassionate, loving, patient-oriented staff,” he said.

Lawlor also praised Shelton officials for being supportive of UMH, which employs more than 300 people at three Wesley Village sites — the Crosby Commons and Wesley Heights independent and assisted living communities as well as Bishop Wicke.

“Things happen when they should in Shelton,” he said of working with city government.

A part of the community

State Rep. Jason Perillo of Shelton said Wesley Village is an important part of the community.

As a former head of Echo Hose Ambulance, Perillo said, he saw the “consistent care from the staff” offered at the facility through the years.

He praised UMH for getting input from employees and Bishop Wicke residents when planning the renovations.

Nancy Johmann, who has visited Bishop Wicke often and also volunteered there, said the facility offers “the highest concern and caring for patients — from the nurses to the administrators to the maintenance staff.”

Bishop Wicke offers short-term rehabilitation and long-term care. UMH, headquartered at Wesley Village, operates other facilities in Connecticut and Tennessee.