After three years in the making, the Oasis at Dodge Park is ready to welcome those facing dementia or Alzheimer’s to a state-of-the art, $12 million facility that its co-owners believe is a home away from home for people with memory ailments.
Following a brief ribbon-cutting ceremony Monday, local official and legislators including State Sen. Harriette L. Chandler, D-Worcester, Mayor Joseph Petty and City Manager Edward M. Augustus Jr., toured the 50-bed rest home at 102 Randolph Road – the site of the former Odd Fellows Home building.
Co-owners Ben Herlinger and Micha Shalev said they shared the vision of creating a facility that would provide people with memory ailments a safe place to live with dignity in a warm, relaxing environment.
They called on architect Ruth Neeman, of Levi & Wong Design Associates of Concord, which specializes in designing such facilities to design a space that is friendly and supportive for elders. Ms. Neeman said every detail counts when dealing with the elderly population including such design decisions as color contrast that can make the difference between seeing where they are going and what they are doing, for the visually impaired.
“Every decision makes a difference between residents thriving and struggling,” Ms. Neeman said at the ceremony. “The goal was to make a building feel like home, residential and comforting.”
This story has been changed to reflect the correct name of Ruth Neeman, of Levi & Wong Design Associates.
The 34,000-square-foot facility has two grand sitting areas that include a grand piano and electric fireplace, as well as two dining areas, a library, spa, hair salon and two outdoor courtyards with heated cement floors so the snow melts, that make it feel more like a luxury hotel than a medical facility. There are only a handful residents living there currently, but at full capacity, Mr. Herlinger said, the facility will have 62 full-time employees.
Mayor Petty said that although the city went back and forth for a few months with Mr. Herlinger and Mr. Shalev, it was “well worth it.” He added that the city would support them with any future expansion.
“We’ll be there for you,” he said.
The men have been partners and best friends for 30 years, Mr. Herlinger said, who half-joked that his wife calls Mr. Shalev his second wife.
Mr. Herlinger, who is of Israeli descent, said he and Mr. Shalev moved to the U.S. in 1986. Mr. Herlinger was an expert in cattle feeding equipment and Mr. Shalev a mechanical engineer, he said. Both have a passion for helping people with Alzheimer’s and dementia, Mr. Herlinger said.
The pair designed and operated seven rest homes in California before coming to Worcester in 2007 with their families.
Both said the road leading up to the ceremony was bumpy, including what many saw as the destruction of a city landmark with the loss of the historic Odd Fellows Home.
“Someone told me, ‘You are taking a landmark down,’ but I said we are building a new landmark that will be here for years to come,” Mr. Herlinger said. “When I’m gone, I know the elderly will have the best level of care here. I am honored to be part of it. It is a great feeling.”
Mr. Shalev said the city of Worcester played a “phenomenal role” in helping them and thanked the city council for its support.
Article written By Original article available here