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The history of Uihlein Mercy Center

September 28, 2018
By Elderwood of Uihlein at Lake Placid , Lake Placid News

Uihlein Mercy Center (now Elderwood of Uihlein at Lake Placid) celebrates 50 years in 2018. Here is a brief history of the facility:

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Early in 1895, Mother Mary Perpetual Help Kiernan and Sister Mary McAuley Connelly, Sisters of Mercy, stepped off a lumber train at Gabriels. Their mission was to start a tuberculosis hospital. A freight house loaned to them by the New York Central Rail Road as well as 200 acres of land donated by Paul Smith was their first home. Dynamo, a little gray donkey, was their first transportation. From this humble start, Sanatorium Gabriels grew to become a renowned hospital.

Article Photos

Uilein Mercy Center, now Elderwood at Uihlein, is pictured. News photo — Griffin Kelly

In 1913, a bell was erected on Sunrise Hill at Sanatorium Gabriels in honor of the Brady Farrell family, the earliest benefactors of the Sisters of Mercy. The angelus bell was relocated at the entrance of Uihlein Mercy Center in gratitude for the Farrell family's generosity. It was tolled each day at noon from the administrator's office.

With the decline of tuberculosis in the mid '50s, Sanatorium Gabriels became respected for its treatment other chronic illnesses. In 1962 the Sisters of Mercy directed their dedication toward solving the new 20th century need for more personal methods and systems to deliver health care to aging citizens. Sister Mary Michele Ayotte, administrator of Sanatorium Gabriels at the time, developed the "personalized nursing care" theory, a nursing approach that recognizes that every individual is made in God's image, with an inherent dignity that age cannot destroy. This new nursing care approach led to the creation of a novel architectural design, octagonal "clusters" of patient rooms surrounding a large communal lounge.

Mr. and Mrs. Henry Uihlein took the initiative and offered the Sisters of Mercy land upon which to build a facility to carry out this new concept of care. Henry Uihlein's vision and drive stimulated the necessary community support for the project - subsequently named the Uihlein Mercy Center. Mrs. W. Alton Jones gave the first pavilion in her husband's memory.

The Chapel of Our Mother of Perpetual Help was given by the Reiss family. Mr. Robert R. Reiss assumed chairmanship of the campaign to finance the center. Kate Smith, another ardent supporter, gave the Chapel of Divine Love (located in the convent). These prominent leaders brought forth unprecedented community cooperation and initiative to meet new health demands.

Uihlein Mercy Center, operated by the Sisters of Mercy, opened its first 96 beds in September 1968, based on the philosophy that the dignity of the human being deserves respect despite effects of illness and old age. Uihlein Mercy Center was/is a skilled nursing facility and was the prototype for institutions planned and built specifically for a geriatric clientele. Located on Old Military Road in Lake Placid, this facility was staffed with a medical director, registered and practical nurses, and nursing assistants providing round-the-clock long-term care. Full-time professional staff included two social workers, a physical therapist, dietician and activity director.

The central core of the building housed services such as administration, physical therapy, dentistry, podiatry, the main dining room and main chapel. The Jones Pavilion consisted of two floors, unit I and II, each composed of three octagonal clusters.

The clusters were named Traditional, Contemporary and Colonial. All rooms are/were private with private half-baths. Fourteen rooms in each octagon open in a lounge where socialization could take place.

In 1986, new construction of 60 additional skilled nursing beds and a large auditorium and other offices and services was completed. Beauty and barbershop, volunteers' office and In-Service suite were located in this wing. The design of the new wing was the same as in the existing building, and one of the octagonal "clusters" has been designated to the care of Alzheimer's patients. The two octagonal clusters, units III and IV, are named Whiteface and Marcy, in honor of the two mountains they face. Certified for Medicare and Medicaid patients, the total long-term care capacity of Uihlein Mercy Center was 156.

In 1993 a new service was added, short-term care, formally known as Respice Care. Located on unit IV, these beds were available for a period up to 30 days for a person being cared for at home who will return to the home setting but needs temporary care to allow the family to take a vacation, attend a family reunion or simply to get a much-needed rest.

On Jan. 1, 2007, Uihlein Mercy Center was acquired by Adirondack Medical Center and became known as AMC-Uihlein.

AMC's vision for the Uihlein campus included:

- Expand with new levels of senior housing and supportive living services.

- Relocate AMC's hospital at Lake Placid to the Uihlein campus and add a fitness center and medical office building.

- Improve clinical integration and transitions for patients and families across care settings with new physician and administrative leadership that will work closely with both acute and post-acute care programs.

- Create stronger networks of providers to support the community.

- Attract new partners to help implement this vision.

The major focus was to look at ways to improve how we manage patient flow across the continuum of care, and how to find safe alternative settings for patients to meet their needs. During this period, an upgraded phone system was installed and a modern sprinkler system was installed to comply with existing building codes.

In October 2016, Uihlein Mercy Center-AMC was acquired by Elderwood.

Established in 1978, Elderwood provides skilled nursing care, specialized sub-acute care, rehabilitation, assisted living, independent living and memory care services.

The company is owned by Post Acute Partners, which also operates the managed long-term Elderwood Health Plan, Elderwood Transportation and Woodmark Pharmacy, and has grown to become the largest network of rehabilitation, skilled nursing, assisted living and independent living communities in western, central and eastern New York. Elderwood is well known to, and highly regarded by, the hospitals and physician groups in the communities that each location serves.

Services and programs include: Long term care and skilled nursing, sub-acute rehabilitation, respite care, Secure memory unit (Seasons Memory Care Program), wound care, palliative care and a new geriatric behavior unit. Our therapy department drives our success with sub-acute rehab receiving a 99 percent satisfaction rate.

All rooms are private with private bathrooms, which is a unique feature within skilled nursing facilities. Additional amenities include a handicapped-accessible greenhouse, a beauty salon, daily services in our on premise chapel, patio with gardens and outdoor walking paths.

 
 
 

 

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