Albany Democrat-Herald: Veterans home is on time and budget

LEBANON — The 154-bed Edward C. Allworth Veterans Home complex under construction on the edge of the Samaritan Health Sciences Campus is ahead of schedule and on budget, Linn County and Lebanon city officials were told Tuesday afternoon during a behind-the-scenes tour of the $40 million project.

John Osborn, project manager for the Oregon Department of Veterans Affairs, said the goal is a mid-August completion with the initial move-in of about 24 residents in October. Once the project is certified by the federal government, which takes from 60 to 90 days, full occupancy can begin.
 
After certification, the federal government will reimburse the Oregon Department of Veterans Affairs $106 per resident per day, Osborn said. That will be coupled with the resident’s Medicare or Medicaid benefits.
 
According to project superintendent Chad Nielson, staff from general contractor Lease Crutcher Lewis and CB Two Architectures closely reviewed the original plans and found $1.2 to $1.7 million in savings. That money is being used to provide added amenities for residents including covered walkways between housing units and solariums for each of the neighborhoods.
 
Three of the neighborhoods will include three buildings with 14 individual bedrooms each.  All bedrooms include private bathrooms.
 
One neighborhood has two housing units of 14 bedrooms encompassing 250 square feet each.
 
Each bedroom will have its own television and residents control their own air conditioning and heater temperatures.
 
Each building unit has its own dining room and living room spaces as well as sitting areas leading to the courtyard.
 
One of the four neighborhoods is reserved for Alzheimer’s and dementia residents and will include extra security, such as sensors that alert staff if a resident gets out of bed in the middle of the night.  
 
It does not have a covered walkway to the community center.
 
“The courtyards in the special care building will be enclosed and there will be color schemes so residents can recognize where they are by colors,” Nielson said.
 
Large glassed in areas offer places to get away out of bad weather to read a book or listen to music.
 
“Residents can eat when they want just like at home,” Nielson said.
 
The bulk of meal preparation will be done in a central kitchen area, but meals will be heated or finished in each of the housing units so residents will experience the sense and smell of home cooking.
 
Because each of the neighborhoods is laid out identically, Nielson said it is taking workers about one-third less time to complete.
 
Covered walkways will lead to a 24,000 square foot community center that includes a large gathering area for events such as Super Bowl or birthday parties.
 
There also will be a bistro, a rehabilitation area, activities and game areas, a library and chapel.
 
All of the buildings features extensive open wooden ceilings and support beams, which brought praise from Shelly Garrett, executive director of the Lebanon Area Chamber of Commerce.
 
“You have embraced our timber history,” Garrett said. “Thank you.”
 
There will be extensive landscape on the 11 acres. Trees are being donated from nurseries around the state through the Vietnam Veterans of America.
 
Nielson said 85 to 90 tradespeople are working on the project every day.
 
When completed the facility will employ 150 to 175 people and be staffed 24/7.
 
“I’m excited to see the progress they’ve made,” Commissioner Will Tucker said. “The quality of the product to be delivered is exceptional. I’m also really pleased by the work they’ve done to save up to $1.7 million and provide added features that weren’t part of the original contract.”
 
In November 2010, Linn County voters approved a 10-year, 19 cents per $1,000 local option tax to generate $12 million as a local match and the state of Oregon kicked in an additional $4 million.
 
 
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