New home for personal care

Published 10:13 pm Thursday, July 20, 2017

North Suffolk welcomed a new assisted living facility on Thursday.

The ribbon was cut at the grand opening of Bickford of Suffolk Assisted Living and Memory Care at 6860 Harbour View Blvd. The facility will provide personalized services to residents, along with in-house amenities in a convenient location.

“The demographics are proving that we really need more places for what I call second homes,” said Suffolk Mayor Linda Johnson at the ceremony. “We want everyone to have the very best care they can have.”

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Andy Eby, one of the Bickford Senior Living presidents, along with his older brothers Joe and Mike Eby, said the growth in Harbour View makes the area ideal for a Bickford facility. The Kansas-based company manages and operates 55 facilities across nine states.

“We try to find communities that are growing,” Eby said. “We want our branch to look like a home that looks appropriate for the neighborhood.”

Bickford of Suffolk Assisted Living and Memory Care consists of 60 apartments, 44 of which are assisted living. The other 16 are designed for memory-care patients.

Amenities at the Suffolk branch include a private dining room, bistro, family areas, laundry services, beauty salon and transportation to doctors’ appointments and elsewhere. Residents are even allowed pets.

“You can never replace home for a senior, but we want to be a place that feels like home,” Eby said. “That’s what our loved ones deserve.”

The memory care wing is called “Mary B’s Symphony,” after Mary Arlene Bickford, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 1989.

“When you were around her, you felt like the most important person she met, and when you left her you felt uplifted,” Eby said.

Unsatisfied with the care facilities in Kansas City, Bickford’s family started the company to provide better assisted living and memory care services.

“My parents couldn’t imagine placing someone they love so much in an environment like that,” Eby said. “They decided to build what they think she deserved.”

The staff prides itself on providing a unique level of comprehensive care.

The company hires only registered nurses, even though Virginia law requires a minimum of licensed practical nurse education and training. Each full-time RN is assisted by nursing care attendants to provide personalized attention, medication management and Alzheimer’s care.

“We’re able to delegate and make bigger decisions,” said Katrina Rizzio, one of the two registered nurses at the Suffolk branch. “We can accommodate acute skill needs.”

There are plans to open branches in Virginia Beach and Stafford, divisional director of operations Samantha Goodman said. The Suffolk branch is expected to receive full licensure on Aug. 1, after which residents will be allowed to move in.

She said the wait list for the facility has filled more than 30 percent of the available rooms as of Thursday.

“I think our buzz in the community is very good,” Suffolk branch director Jenniffer Westfall said. “I’m very positive we’ll be full very fast.”