HendersonvilleNews Stories

Carolina Village celebrates 40th year, unveils new facilities

Newest at the non-profit center near Four Seasons Boulevard and I-26 is a cozy film/multi-media room. Its control wall panel is touch-activated. This is in the main building’s northern section.

Nearby is the new pool, which opened April 15. Access is limited via security scanning, for safety. It has salt water for healing, two 15-meter lap lanes, and is up to five feet deep.

Cardiovascular and arthritis therapy sessions are in the pool. Its triangular “resistance wall” provides a current, to swim against. The warm 12-by-20-foot therapy pool beside it has treadmill action for “endless swim” endurance, Executive Director Kevin Parries added.

The “Main Street” section includes the pool and adjoining exercise room, film room, Cane Creek Pharmacy, mailboxes, body and foot masseuses, and a hearing specialist. Amenities include a beauty/barber shop.

The Wall of History chronicles Carolina Village, which opened June 2, 1974 with nearly 50 residents moving in. Earliest residential additions were in 1981.

In 1964, Mignon Sullivan took her Robinhood Apartments idea to a Chamber of Commerce panel, with help of Dr. Kenneth Cosgrove. Unique was their dream of a locally-financed, owned and operated facility. It has remained independent, a registered non-profit, and with an endowment fund a driving financial force.

Official founder Larry Butler chaired the ensuing chamber Retirement Housing Committee that year, and in 1972 led Carolina Village’s founding board. Tom Mulcahy was initial residents association president.

As the dream became reality in 1974, physicians and others bought into the concept of continuing care to ease residents’ health care costs and peace of mind.

Doley Bell ran the facility for 33 years, retiring five years ago when Parries succeeded him. Parries initially served six years as administrator of Carolina Village’s five star-rated nursing home. Jon Renegar leads that unit, Alex Tucker administers the Care Center, and Melissa Rodriguez heads Independent Living Services.

Carolina Village has about 500 residents, and 20 have lived there for at least 20 years, Parries said. Some 40 non-members at a time get nursing care. There are about 300 employees.

To join as a resident, a person must be at least age 62 and mobile and self-sufficient enough for “independent living” in cottages or apartments. Many cottages opened 10 years ago. E-Wing debuted in 2009, with 63 apartments all pre-sold and 125 people on a waiting list.

The six-figure entrance fee and monthly rent vary, mainly by unit size. This fee covers lifelong, long-term medical service, Parries said. “We’re guaranteeing future health care.” He said the fee entitles a person to pay mainly one’s usual rental fee as if remaining there — for doctor-authorized shifts into the Care Center for assisted living, or to the Medical Center for skilled nursing.

A resident’s primary doctor determines when a care level shift is needed, noted Health Services Director Velda Capps.

The Medical Center’s latest site opened in 2000. The Care Center’s new building opened five years ago, with 60 private rooms. Three meals are served each resident there daily. Extra fees are charged for two meals, beyond the one meal from their independent living meal plan.

Capps supervises all nursing. The registered nurse has worked at Carolina Village since its third year — 1976. (Wilhelmina Mills in housekeeping is the veteran worker, at 39 years.) There are wellness programs and therapies, to fit an active lifestyle.

“That’s why I moved here,” retired physical therapist Ingrid Perry said of long-term care. She turns 95 on Sept. 6, and still lives on her own. Remaining self-sufficient is “most important,” yet she relishes that any future medical needs will be financially “taken care of.”

Hangouts include the cafeteria, Magnolia Room/theater, library, walking trails, and activity rooms. Lounges are sites for chats and card games, while waiting for the wash in the next room. Resident June Rogers furnishes lounges. She runs the Village Treasures thrift shop.

The main building’s front living room has historic exhibits, such as on astronauts. Its giant 70-inch television shows travel slide shows. A 55-inch monitor shows overflow crowds of the Village Hall what happens in there.

The hall’s remodeling in 2012 was funded largely by residents, via their council. The hall holds fitness classes, author and other guest lectures, and memorial services.

The annual talent show was there July 22. Five couples played the “Newlywed Game.” Betty Hensley is activities director. Anniversary events last week also included an open house, black tie dancing, and antique car show.

A glass-enclosed waterfall monument by the Wall of History is inscribed with founders’ “mission to provide housing continuing life care, up-to-date service; and a pleasant, congenial and community participation without regard to race or religious (affiliation.)”

Indeed, as Parries points out, Carolina Village helps the community in various ways.

Food Service Director Andrew White and his wife, Jennifer Taylor-White, note they send unserved spare food for about 85 meals daily to the Hendersonville Rescue Mission and Council on Aging. Parries said “the vegetable of the day here can be in someone’s soup tomorrow.”

Meals are a prime asset, several Carolina Village residents said. Prime rib is served typically one Friday in each five-week menu period. Cuisine varies with a handful of entree, side dish and dessert choices each day. Tasty side dishes include brown sugar-glazed butternut squash.

The $14 price is the same for a guest or outsiders. Visitors pay at the front desk, which has menus.

The cafeteria was remodeled and reopened in April 2013 with double the size and capacity (220 seats), larger salad bar and new tables and plush chairs. Chairs have rollers on the front to slide better, but not on the back to retain stability, Taylor-White noted. There is a view of new landscaping. A bistro is planned.

Lori Bohnen has served meals in the dining room for 13 years, and has waited on parents of some younger residents. “I call it ‘happy hour’ for the residents. This is a meeting place, where they catch up with each other. This is like one big family.”

In the cafeteria, many servers are high school and college students. Several are among 16 (out of 20 applicants) the board chose for tuition scholarships. The fund began in 2001; residents donate into it. Taylor-White said being a responsible worker and “ambitious” helps applicants’ chances.

Identical twins Nora and Nita Stepp have waited in the dining room for five years and turn 21 on Aug. 9. The North Henderson alumni are both in Blue Ridge Community College. Nora is studying marketing, and Nita hospitality. They said their full tuition scholarships are critical. As Nita puts it, “without them we might not get to go to college.” She likes how, with mainly regular diners, “we know everyone by their first name.”

Cheryl Laughter-Justus handles residential admissions. For more on Carolina Village, call her at 692-6275, ext. 202 or check www.carolinavillage.com.

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