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Elks open their home to the community

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By John Barnhart

    After more than a century of serving only members of the Elks, the  Elks National Home has opened its doors to the general public.

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    The Elks National Home first came to Bedford in 1903. The current facility opened in 1916, with additions built in later years. Up until last year it was a retirement facility for Elks only.    “We are now open to people other than Elks,” said Pamala Mutter, the Elks Home administrator. “We want to share with the public now.”
    The facility is licensed by the Commonwealth for 230 residents, so there is plenty of space.
    “We have a lot to offer the community,” Mutter said.
    Centrally located, easy to find and with a nice dining room, the Elks Home is often the venue for a number of community events during the year. The Home is also noted for its spectacular Christmas light display which draws thousands of visitors from Bedford and well beyond.
    “We love the community and the community loves us,” Mutter commented.
    The Home offers single rooms  and two-bedroom suites. All meals are available in the dining room.
    “We have a gorgeous main dining room,” Mutter said.
    Laundry service and cleaning service is available. Mutter said that the home is equipped to provide residents with as little service or as much service as they need.
    The Home has 200 acres of land. Some is occupied by the Home’s golf course. Some is pasture land that the home leases to people who have cattle or horses, giving the facility an open, rural feel in the midst of an urban area.
    The main part of the building has a long hall that runs its length, centering on the lobby, library and dining room. One side of the hall consists of windows that provide a continuous perspective of the front grounds and residents decorate it according to the season. Residents also use it as an indoor walking loop, letting them get walking exercise when the weather is poor outside.
    Medical service is available inside. Mutter, herself, is a registered nurse, with seven years of experience as a coronary intensive care nurse, and was the Home’s director of nursing before becoming its overall administrator. She said the medical clinic is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. A resident can call any time and each apartment has an emergency call bell. It’s like having the rescue squad living in the house with you.
    The clinic is also equipped to perform a variety of routine tests. A doctor comes to the clinic three times a week and the clinic also has an audiologist and podiatrist who come on a scheduled basis. The clinic has examination rooms for doctors to use.
    The clinic keeps medical records on each resident and, should a resident need to go to a hospital, the patient’s records are provided to that facility.
    “There is no such thing as a hospital not knowing why we sent them,” Mutter said.
    Mutter said that most doctors in Bedford are familiar with the Home and that makes for good medical care.
    The Home has a pool and activities room with both inside and outside organized activities. Mutter said that a lot of entertainment also comes to the Home.
    “You can stay as busy here as you care to,” she said.
    The Home has a barber shop and a beauty salon and a library. There are several racks of books that residents can check out as well as a number of magazines and newspapers. Newspapers include local papers, like the Bedford Bulletin and the Roanoke Times as well as national papers such as USA Today and the Wall Street Journal.
    A number of ministry groups come to the Home and Bible studies are held there. The Home provides transportation to local churches.
    “Another plus for us is we have ample staff,” Mutter said.
    “We have security,” she added.
    Mutter said that she would like to see every room at the Home filled.
    “We just want to invite people in [to] have a look at us,” she said. “If they come, they’ll like us.”
    An open house, originally scheduled for last Sunday, has been rescheduled for April 14.