Woodhaven celebrates anniversary

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By John Barnhart

    Woodhaven Nursing Home is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.

    According to David Graves, the nursing home’s owner, the facility was founded in 1960 by Dr. John McCown. It’s always been at its current location, just west of Montvale on U. S. 460, although it has expanded substantially since then. The old house, built as a single family home in 1927, still forms its core and currently houses offices. At one point, in the 1950s, a company called Woodhaven Manufacturing operated there.
    Graves said that Dr. McCown had a family practice in Roanoke and saw the need for the  nursing  home because many of his patients were getting old. He operated the facility until 1993 when Graves, who has been in the nursing home business since 1975, bought it.
    The home’s focus is on Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. That’s why they have 50 people on staff, according to Graves. He said that dementia patients need a lot of supervision. Of these, 17 are certified dementia practitioners. This is a special certification in addition to a staff member’s state license and Graves said that Woodhaven was the first nursing home in the country to offer training for this certification to its staff. Woodhaven’s certification program is run through Lynchburg College.
    The facility has secure doors that are set up to sound an alarm when opened and a five-foot security fence around three sides of the nursing home. Dementia patients have a tendency to wander off, if adequate efforts are not made to stop them. Once they wander, they get lost and can’t find their way back.
    Woodhaven has room for 48 patients. It also has three private rooms for residential assisted living.
    Graves said that Alzheimer’s is not the only form of dementia — there are 20 types of dementia.  It is, however, the most common. It usually manifests itself between the ages of 45 and 75 and death usually follows the diagnosis sometime between five and eight years. But not always. He said the facility has two residents who have been with them for 10 years.
    There’s no cure. In fact, although doctors know what is happing in the disease, they don’t know why it happens. They do know, however, that there is a genetic predisposition to the disease.
    Graves said that there are three different medications that help with symptoms and slow the progression of the disease. Activities can help, too, and Graves said that they have memory enhancing activities and do activities to encourage physical activity. Coordination and balance become issues with Alzheimer’s patients and physical activity helps enhance a patient’s abilities.
    He said that Woodhaven has parties for patients and encourage their families to come. They also encourage families to have private birthday parties for their loved ones.
    Along with residents who live there, Graves said that Woodhaven offers vacation care and weekend care for dementia patients who are being cared for at home, giving their families a break.
    “We’ll work with folks to meet their needs,” he said.
    With its focus on Alzheimer’s, Woodhaven puts on an annual concert, in Roanoke, to benefit the Alzheimer’s Association and the Adult Day Care Center of Roanoke Valley. Graves said that this year’s event is scheduled for Nov. 13 and will feature the comedian Lulu Roman and Stella Parton, Dolly Parton’s sister. This is a free concert and will be held at Life Church on Peters Creek Road, in Roanoke. The fundraising is through donations taken up at the concert. Graves said that the effort has raised $50,000 over the last four years.
    Putting up Christmas displays at Hotel Roanoke also serves as a fundraiser of sorts. Graves said that Woodhaven has won the contest for the last four years. Proceeds from the display go to United Way.