By Dawn Krebs
FORT PIERCE - Some major changes took place recently at the Abbiejean Russell Care Center, and they were all for the many local residents that use the facility. But the changes didn't take away any of the personal, homelike touches the center is known for.
"We are excited about the whole facility," said Karen McCarthy, regional marketing director for the care center.
The care center provides skilled nursing and rehabilitative services to residents of St. Lucie County. It has the ability to offer both short-term and long-term care to meet the needs of local residents.
Located just behind the armory in Fort Pierce, the building itself has had quite a history.
In the foyer of the building hangs a portrait of Abbiejean Russell, who was a social worker in St. Lucie County in the 1970s. She was instrumental in opening the building by what was then known as the St. Lucie County Welfare Association in 1975.
"Her job was to go into homes and check to see if the children needed food or clothes," said Debby Fannin, one of the owners of the care center. "When we bought the facility in 2003, we wanted to name it after her."
Ms. Fannin purchased the building from the county almost 10 years ago, and refurbished it to be a care center. Ms. Russell was still alive at the time, and knew it was going to be named after her.
"We really love the fact it has this rich history," she said. "We wanted to continue that and be a resource for seniors in the community."
With its most-recent renovation, the care center has brought even more opportunities for seniors to receive the best care possible.
"Our focus is to transition the resident from rehabilitation to home," Ms. McCarthy said. "We try to get them back to their normal way of life prior to their illness."
The average length of a stay at the care center is 22 days, and the facility offers a variety of therapies such as physical, occupational and speech.
Also, dialysis can be done onsite, cutting down on the need for residents to travel. There is even therapy offered for residents who have troubling swallowing.
On Aug. 9, a ribbon-cutting was held to officially open "Abbie Lane," a separate and secure branch of the main building that will house and care for residents with dementia and Alzheimer's issues.
"The entire wing was specifically designed for residents with memory issues," said Ms. McCarthy. She pointed to the enclosed butterfly garden and demonstrated the various items in a healing arts center, where residents go to reduce anxiety.
"We want to make them as comfortable as possible, and make them feel at home," she said.
With the addition of the memory care center, the facility now has the ability to continue its homelike style of care in all environments.
"It's refreshing to care for people," said Ms. McCarthy. "It's such a pleasure."
Abbiejean Russell Care Center is located at 700 S. 29th St. in Fort Pierce. For more information, call (772) 465-7560 or go online to www.abbiejeanrussellcarecenter.com.