Timbers of Cass County celebrates fifth anniversary

Published 10:04 am Friday, September 18, 2015

When Atrium Centers first began offering its assisted-living and rehabilitation services to residents of greater Dowagiac through the Timbers of Cass County, they started off rather small, with only around 20 staff members assisting six residents.

Five years later, more than 100 people are currently receiving care from the facility, which employs 240 nurses, coordinators, administrators and other employees.

The Timbers celebrated its fifth birthday in style Wednesday afternoon, inviting the public for a reception and tour of its facility, located on Colby Street. Around 75 people from Dowagiac and beyond visited the nursing center that day, including senior Atrium Centers leadership and several members of the Timbers Community Advisory Board.

While visitors to the facility had the opportunity to enjoy some hors d’oeuvres, wine and live music provided by Bruce Anderson of the Southwestern Michigan College music department, residents also celebrated the birthday inside the facility’s activity center.

Guests enjoyed some cake and listening to a special concert from Dowagiac Union High School student Anne Zebell.

Among the names on the guest list Wednesday included Cass County COA CEO Bob Cochrane, Dowagiac Director of Public Safety Steve Grinnewald and longtime Southwestern Michigan College chairman Fred Mathews, who was instrumental in helping the Timbers find their footing during its formative years, said Administrator Karen Schalte.

“We have a really strong community support system,” Schalte said “We are truly blessed.”

The Timbers first opened its doors to patients during the summer of 2010, inside the extensively renovated home of the former Dowagiac Nursing Home, which closed in 2007. The facility has 108 beds for residents, along with a dining area, several activity and recreation rooms and two therapy gyms.

“Something that many people don’t know about us is that about 95 percent of the people who stay here are able to return home,” Schalte said. “We specialize in rehabilitation.”

In fact, the average stay for Timbers patients is only 38 days, the administrator said.

Last year, the facility earned its first national achievement, receiving a bronze level recognition from the American Heath Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living for their efforts to prevent slipping accidents among residents.

Several higher-ups with Atrium Centers, including the company CEO, visited the Timbers on Wednesday, and came away impressed by the facility and the dedication of its staff, Schalte said.

“They were very, very happy with what they saw,” she said.

Despite so many successes in just a small window of time, Schalte and her staff are just getting started, and are looking to carry the momentum they’ve gained over the past five years into the future, she said.

“We’re going to keep moving forward and providing excellent service to our residents,” she said.