Leilani Schenkel, R.N., knew she wanted to use her extensive professional and personal background to do something that truly mattered. The doors to that something will open after the first of the year.
It is called Almost Home Inc. and will be the first of its kind in Great Bend.
The residence at 1919 Van Buren St. is currently undergoing remodeling on a grand scale, while Schenkel finishes up some of the administrative paperwork that includes meeting all state requirements. Schenkel will be executive director and operator.
The new, non-profit venture is based on the “home-plus” model, a concept that was introduced in Kansas in 1997.
“We cannot open just yet but we are hearing so many comments and questions from the community; so, we want to share information now,” Schenkel said. “The whole concept of Almost Home is providing quality health care and personal care in a loving, home-like environment.”
One thing Schenkel wants to clear up at the outset is that Almost Home will not be an actual hospice facility. However, up to two residents at any given time may receive hospice care in private rooms at Almost Home through a licensed hospice provider.
“We will contract with local agencies that are licensed to offer hospice services,” Schenkel explained. “The two rooms designated for hospice will simply be another referral option for them.”
Donita Wolf, director of Golden Belt Home Health & Hospice, said she is pleased to hear about this additional option.
“Golden Belt Home Health & Hospice is looking forward to working with Leilani in her new venture,” Wolf said. “This will provide a homey, quality setting for patients to live if they are unable to be at home.”
Almost Home will be staffed 24 hours a day with certified nurse’s aides and medication aides, and Schenkel will often be there. A registered nurse will always be on call.
Capacity is 10 residents; the rooms not designated for hospice care will be double occupancy and one couple’s suite will be available. The home is handicapped accessible and there are four bathrooms.
“Our residents will enjoy a home-like atmosphere,” Schenkel said, noting people can bring some personal belongings. “They can get up in the morning when they want and enjoy a hot breakfast made just for them. Lunch and dinner are family style. Residents can also ask us to stock the cupboards with some of their favorite things.
“The bottom line,” Schenkel continued, “is that this is their home. The setting lends itself to social interaction but people can enjoy private time too. We also will have a serenity garden and birdhouses in our nice backyard.”
Other services include adult day care, respite care for families and support for day-to-day activities, such as individual, personal laundry service.
Schenkel has prepared for the opening by fulfilling Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services (KDADS) licensure requirements, as well as visiting a couple of the 114 home-plus residences in Kansas.
She also attended the Kansas Center for Assisted Living Adult Care Home Operator Course in Topeka, and successfully completed the exam to become an operator as required by KDADS.
Almost Home is faith-based, Schenkel said, noting that “God has led me to this special way of caring for people and their families. This is my mission, my ministry.
“I am so pleased the community is already embracing this,” Schenkel added. “We are getting many calls, and people have donated furniture, labor and money.”
While Schenkel wishes the doors could open tomorrow, she wants to ensure everything is in place before the first resident moves in. This includes not only the paperwork but also the fire suppression system, plumbing, wiring, décor and some of the landscaping.
Schenkel has a bachelor’s degree in nursing and is a paramedic. Her background includes 17 years as an emergency room nurse at Central Kansas Medical Center, which is now St. Rose Ambulatory & Surgery Center.
In addition, Schenkel was a flight nurse and marketing director with EagleMed, and director of nursing at Clara Barton Hospital. She also was chief nursing officer and chief operating officer at CKMC.
She is available to speak to civic groups that want more information. Schenkel can be reached by calling 620-617-1634.