Spokane Journal of Business

Evergreen Fountains eyes addition of memory care

Spokane Valley facility sets sights on wellness, mobility of its residents

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-—Staff photo by Jessica Valencia
Evergreen Fountains Executive Director Prokey Arger says the retirement facility's wellness initiatives have helped its residents maintain a good quality of life.

Evergreen Fountains LLC, a senior living complex in Spokane Valley that emphasizes its wellness programs and amenities, plans to expand its facility to accommodate residents that need more care, says developer and executive director Prokey Arger.

The company plans to develop a stand-alone, memory-care facility on its campus, located at 1201 N. Evergreen. Arger says the project is currently in the design phase, and details about the project will be solidified within the next month or two. He says the company hopes to open the facility next year.

"We're building to accommodate a need that's in the marketplace," Arger says. "It would complete Evergreen Fountains," in that the complex then would offer what he considers a full range of services for residents.

The 180,000-square-foot Evergreen Fountains opened in 2008. The facility includes a four-story, independent-living building and a connected two-story, assisted-living facility wing to the north, each with its own entrance. Arger says Evergreen Fountains has a total of 110 units, with about a third of those in the assisted-living wing. In addition to units within the main building, six separate cottage-style units with garages are located on the property.

The complex employs 60 people, including two full-time nurses for the assisted-living wing, and five security guards that staff Evergreen Fountains between 6 p.m. and 7 a.m. Arger says most of the staff has been with Evergreen Fountains since it opened.

In addition to the staff, Evergreen Fountains also has onsite offices for a licensed nurse practitioner, dental hygienist, massage therapist, and hair stylist, who occupy suites and work there part time.

The 40,000-square-foot, assisted-living wing has its own dining hall and reception area, but Arger says residents from both assisted living and independent living commingle in common areas and in the facility's health and fitness center. Of the roughly 70 residents who attend a weekly wine and cheese gathering, about a third live in the assisted-living wing, he says.

With Evergreen Fountains' current focus on independent and assisted living, Arger contends that its wellness program, which may attract a younger resident, has the potential to increase residents' independence through working on joint mobility.

For the retirement community, its residents typically are in their 70s, he says, which he claims is in contrast to an average age of 85 at Spokane retirement communities.

Arger says residents at Evergreen Fountains often see an improvement in mobility due in large part to its health and fitness center that includes a warm-water pool, fitness equipment, and dance floor that is used for yoga and tai chi, in addition to dance classes. He says the health and fitness center is staffed by a wellness director, who leads classes throughout the week.

Each resident at Evergreen Fountains has a wellness profile created that highlights weaknesses that can be worked on, such as strength and balance. Through that profile, the wellness director can determine which programs would help work on each person's weaknesses, he says.

Arger says with a wellness director on staff, it enables the facility to coordinate with a resident's physical therapist plan for recovery from surgical procedures if necessary, helping a resident stay on a track to recovery.

"The independent folks really have a tendency to drop through the cracks," Arger says of other independent-living facilities, adding that with an independent-living facility, few people are checking on residents to make sure they're following through with physical therapy exercises.

Evergreen Fountains has about 50 programs available for residents, such as clubs, activities, and those associated with the health and fitness center. He says about 70 percent of residents are involved in programs on average.

"We judge ourselves on how well our seniors benefit from our programs," Arger says.

As residents get older and begin to need more assistance while living in the independent-living wing, Arger says, staff members can draft a care plan for them, enabling them to remain in that wing but still receive light assistance.

Light assisted-living services can include things such as medication management and shower assistance, he says, adding that the defining point for when more care is needed lies in whether a resident has the cognitive and physical ability to leave the building if necessary.

Seniors are becoming more active, Arger says which not only reflects on their physical health, but also often has positive effects on mental health, specifically through combatting diseases such as dementia.

The Alzheimer's Association, a national nonprofit organization based in Chicago, says physical activity can improve blood flow to the brain and can encourage the growth of new brain cells. It also contends the positive effects can be amplified when paired with a healthy diet and socialization.

"Socialization is a very important part of wellness," Arger says, adding that the dining experience is another way residents can interact with others, outside of the health and fitness center and clubs.

Evergreen Fountains offers breakfast at an onsite bistro called Vasi Bistro, along with a soup and salad bar, and an espresso bar throughout the day. The space also has a television along one wall that residents can use and a seating area. The bistro is named after Arger's mom, Vasi Arger. Dinner is served in the dining halls, with residents ordering from menus.

Residents can choose from one- or two-bedroom living units, with 1 1/2 or two bathrooms, Arger says. In addition to units located within the building, separate three-bed, two-bath cottages are located adjacent to the main facility. Units include full kitchens and a washer and dryer. Also, bathrooms are equipped with handrails and walk-in showers.

"In this design, we've created multiple types of living arrangements," Arger says.

A one-bedroom apartment is between 750 square feet and 850 square feet of floor space, a two-bedroom unit is between 1,100 square feet and 1,350 square feet of space, and a cottage is 1,650 square feet.

The cost to rent a one-bedroom or two-bedroom unit ranges between $2,000 and $3,500 a month, with the starting price for a two-bedroom unit at $3,000. Cottages cost between $3,000 and $3,200 a month, Arger says.

Rent covers a meal plan, access to the health and fitness center, and weekly housekeeping. Arger says residents are responsible for their personal phone bills.

The retirement facility is currently at 95 percent occupancy with a waiting list that typically lasts about 90 days, he says.

He adds that the occupancy rate has remained steady, and it's a size that still enables staff members to know all of the residents.

Prokey and older brother Greg Arger are founders of Arger Co. Real Estate Inc., a real estate sales and property management company that manages more than 500,000 square feet of offices and multifamily units.

Greg Arger's son, Gene, joined the company in 2005 and deals in commercial real estate.

In addition to developing Evergreen Fountains, the brothers developed Orchard Crest Retirement & Assisted Living Community, a 200,000-square-foot facility that opened in 2001 at 222 S. Evergreen, about a mile south of Evergreen Fountains, and the 68,000square-foot CenterPointe Business Park, just off north Mullan Road in Spokane Valley.

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