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Posted: 02/26/14

Wellbridge facility should
be completed by August

by JERRY FRAEYMAN
Observer Special Writer
      A post-acute, long-term nursing care facility that was approved by the Village of Romeo Board of Trustees in mid 2012 and broke ground last year is proceeding with construction and slated to open in late 2014, according to the project's owners.
       Wellbridge of Romeo, as it will be called, was originally presented to the village by Washington Township-based Medilodge, which operates long-term nursing care facilities in southeast Michigan.
       Mike Perry, Wellbridge's chief operating officer, said construction should be completed in August of this year. He anticipates being fully licensed and certified by November.
       Licensure means the facility can accept private-pay and private-insurance patients. Certification allows it to accept Medicare patients.
       "We are targeting a certificate of occupancy of Aug. 1," said Perry. "State licensure would then take three to six weeks. Once that happens, we can accept approximately 10 guests into the facility and take care of them for six to eight weeks."
       "After that period, we then request a Medicare certification survey from the State of Michigan," added Perry. "Assuming we pass that survey, we become fully licensed and certified. That's when we say we are truly open."
       Perry says problems with public utilities, as well as weather, have caused some construction delays.
       The 124-bed facility will provide post-hospital, sub-acute long term care and rehabilitation. The facility is a bit larger than originally scoped, due to Wellbridge being able to secure additional beds through the State of Michigan's Certificate of Need (COD) process, said Perry.
       Originally planned for 93-bed and 66,500 feet, it will be 86,000 square feet in size.
       Two additional wings anticipated for future construction are being included in the original build, according to architect Dan DeRemer of JW Design Studio.
       The facility occupies the northern portion of a land parcel that surrounds St. Clement Church. Entry to the facility will be off Van Dyke, south of the church.
       There are no specific plans, yet for developing the remaining land, according to Village President Mike Lee, although various ideas have been floated.
       Perry said Wellbridge strives to be a "different model of care" that provides resort-like amenities, including a salon, a bistro, massage and hydrotherapy, high-speed Internet and 24-hour room service.
       "We are not your typical long-term care nursing home facility," said Perry. "We are predominantly private rooms with higher-end services."
       Wellbridge tries to fill a niche in the nursing care market by appealing to baby boomers who, Perry said, "are not interested in sharing a room, not interested in community shower spaces. They want a little bit nicer setting."
       The facility will employ 120 to 150 people, said Perry, including registered nurses, an executive chef, therapists, and support staff.
       Wellbridge, a private company, was founded in November, 2012. The company opened its first project in Brighton, in June, 2013. Romeo will be its second. Others are planned in Rochester Hills, Fenton and Pinckney.
       Wellbridge's principles included several Medilodge executives.


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