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The Journal Gazette

  • Deb Lambert, and Duke, in the courtyard of the new Byron Health Center on Beacon Street

Monday, October 21, 2019 1:00 am

Five questions for Deb Lambert

President/CEO, Byron Wellness Systems

1 Byron Health Center soon will have a new home. How is construction going at your new location at Beacon Street and Lake Avenue?

On Oct. 10, we not only celebrated Irene Byron's birthday, but we also celebrated our one-year anniversary for the groundbreaking. Our project is going better than we anticipated. We have a great team with Weigand leading the construction, MKM leading the design and CCi overseeing all aspects of the project on behalf of Byron. As a result of the strong collaborative efforts with the Weigand team, we have been able to allow our residents to tour our new community as they build it so that they can become comfortable with our new community before moving day, which is coming up within the next six months. We have been giving tours to some of our industry partners and the reaction we get from them is that it gives them chills and, honestly, they have become tearful with the intentional design of the community.


2 What's the history of the Health Center on Lima Road?

We have a long history of providing care to those who are most vulnerable in Allen County, depending upon the needs of the community at that time in history. Originally, we moved to our current location in 1916 and at that time served orphans after their orphanage flooded in the Waynedale area. From there, we have some documents showing there was a cholera hospital until that outbreak was resolved. Of course, everyone knows us for the Irene Byron Tuberculosis Sanitarium. We have been the county poor farm where residents actually worked the land to grow their own food and raise their own livestock. During part of our history we were the Byron hospital. For the last 53 years, we have been a licensed nursing home. At one time in our history, we were the largest nursing home in the state with 500 beds. Currently, we are licensed to serve 120 residents. About a third of our residents come from the Allen County area, another third come from the rest of the state of Indiana and the final third come from all over the United States.


3 What improvements will you see with the new campus?

I really don't know where to start with all the improvements our residents and their families will see in our new campus. This is a purpose-built, intentionally designed building. Our main focus as we were in the design phase of this project was to ensure that our residents felt like they were living in a home. The major improvements are that our neighborhoods will only have 24 residents per neighborhood. Twenty of those rooms will be private, two rooms will be shared by two residents each. The focal point of each neighborhood is the kitchen/dining room/living room space and the very large outside space that our residents will be able to enjoy daily. We also included two dens and a sensory room in every neighborhood.


4 Are residents looking forward to the move? And how about Duke, your Bernese Mountain dog and the Byron Health Center mascot?

Our residents, and Duke, are so excited for the move. Many of our residents have not had their own private bedroom, not to mention new furniture, for years if not decades. So, they are looking forward to having their own bathroom and watching whatever they want to watch on TV in their own room. They are looking forward to going to bed whenever they want and not having a roommate wake them up later in the evening when they go to bed. They can't wait to go outside whenever they want, not having to wait on a staff member to assist them outside. And Duke, he will have the run of the community as he does now, but even Duke and his canine friends have some intentionally designed space in the new building. We will be enrolling in the SPCA's paw-friendly patio program with the hope that our furry neighbors will bring their owners to our campus for some ice cream and socialization time with our staff and residents.


5 Are there ways Allen County residents can support Byron and your upcoming move?

Yes, we are asking for donations of gently used suitcases so our residents can have something to pack their clothes in for our move. Once we have moved, we are partnering with SCAN to donate the suitcases to their organization so that the families they serve can have suitcases when they need them as well. Donations can be made at our current location at 12101 Lima Road or at the SCAN office at 500 W. Main St.