Platte facility reborn with partnershipHospital leases independent living building to private operator.
By: Anna Jauhola, The Daily Republic
PLATTE — Dottie Wilkins and her late husband Wesley took the initiative a few years ago to provide more housing for the elderly in Platte.
This weekend, Dottie Wilkins will hold an open house for the newly remodeled Home Sweet Home Independent Living, formerly known as The Gentle Touch.
“I am so excited and so is the community,” Wilkins said in a recent interview with The Daily Republic.
“We needed to provide more senior housing in the community because many elderly residents are leaving since there is a lack of housing.”
The open house will be from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and from 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday. Refreshments will be served in the kitchen and dining room.
The Wilkinses bought Home Sweet Home Assisted Living a few years ago, renovated it and opened it last year. Shortly after, Wesley died and Dottie has been running the business since.
So when Platte Health Center Avera approached Wilkins about leasing the independent living center, she was all for it.
“They said I was the one to do it,” Wilkins said. “They’d seen how well the assisted living was going.”
Mark Burket, CEO of Platte Health Center, said the hospital operated The Gentle Touch for about 14 years. Prior to that, Wilkins’ uncle and aunt, Jim and Bonnie Tatum, had built and run the facility.
“We had worked with Dottie for the assisted living facility, so it was a natural fit,” Burket said of Wilkins leasing The Gentle Touch from the hospital.
Burket said although the facility was a successful business for the hospital, it posed a hardship. Because it was a business and Platte Health Center is a nonprofit, Medicare penalized the hospital and gave less reimbursement. The Gentle Touch was costing the hospital too much money.
By leasing the building to Wilkins and not running the business, Platte Health Center is able to fulfill its mission of providing health care but also solve the Medicare reimbursement issue.
Burket said the building had also been “getting some age on it” and needed renovation. That sparked discussion to form a partnership with someone to lease the building.
He said the hospital’s maintenance crew did the renovation.
“We have some very skilled maintenance guys,” Burket said. “People walked through the building during construction, people waiting to see the transformation.”
Burket and Wilkins have heard good rumblings about the independent living facility opening. Burket said the town is anxious for it to open and to see Wilkins’ special touches with decoration.
“Dottie is renowned for her decorating sense, her sense of colors, an elegance that she can bring to the place,” Burket said.
The building now offers more of a home-like feel rather than an institutional setting, Burket said.
Wilkins took over the building in July to decorate and get it ready to open Sept. 1.
Home Sweet Home Independent Living features eight apartments, laundry and housekeeping services, plus three meals per day served in a dining room. Each apartment also has its own full bathroom. Prior to renovations, the facility offered community shared bathrooms. Although it does not offer staff to distribute medicine, residents can contract a nurse at their own cost. But the facility will be staffed eight hours per day.
All eight apartments are available, and Wilkins is optimistic about filling them.
“The building is now so well restored and beautiful. It’s ready for residents,” she said.