Worthington's new Alzheimer's-, dementia- and memory-care facility is a few months away from starting to book rooms.
The Kemper House is a 55,000-square-foot facility on the northeast corner of Proprietors and Dublin-Granville roads, with 55 private and shared residences that will serve those in need of memory care.
Construction on the facility started last September, and developer Greg Cini – president of the Westerville-based Griffin 105 Group – said he expects the facility to be open by "late summer."
Cini said the facility still is a few months from beginning to book rooms, largely because those in need of memory care don't often have several months to wait.
"Families realize, 'We need help and we need it now,' " he said. "Typically, they can't wait eight months."
He said Kemper House leaders have, however, been "actively speaking" with families who are "proactively" looking and planning for the future.
"We haven't made any full commitments or anything, but we have a handful of families who've said, 'When this place opens, it's probably the appropriate time to get our loved ones in there,' " he said.
Cini said a temporary information center is expected to open Feb. 1 in the former Harding Hospital site across the street near 445 E. Dublin-Granville Road. Having a physical space to answer questions, he said, should make a big difference.
"We'll start really being able to see and talk people through the different suites that are in the building," he said. "So we're really pumped about getting this thing moving and we seem to be making good progress on getting the word out and being involved in the community."
That community involvement, Cini said, is an important part of Kemper House's plan.
He said the company's outreach platform is "not just about our four walls and our residents," but it will involve promoting healthful eating and lifestyles throughout Worthington.
"It's really an outreach for the community," he said.
"We want to create an awareness for better brain and body health through diet, exercise, meditation, sleep habits, all that type of thing. We try to move away from an ecological way of treating the disease to really daily habits that help improve cognitive performance."
From the community's perspective, Kemper House could be a welcome addition. The Kemper House site at 900 Proprietors Road mostly has been vacant since the closure of Worthington Foods in 2005.
Lee Brown, Worthington's planning-and-building director, said the city has seen an increase in demand for memory-care facilities, and city officials saw that type of project as a community need.
"What we've seen, definitely, in a landlocked, older community is that ... our residents want a facility for their family members to keep them close to the people they love," he said. "So that's definitely a need, in addition to just the basic care facility."
He said the process of approving the Kemper House was met with uncharacteristically few complaints.
"I think the community was supportive of having that type of use for our community," he said. "When it went through, we really didn't hear from anyone who had an issue with that use."
Last year, after Worthington City Council in January approved a rezoning for the site from industrial use to a planned-unit development, council President Bonnie Michael said the Kemper House was a good fit for Worthington.
"There's a need for those services in our community," she said. "I think the developers have done a really outstanding job of trying to catch the flavor of Worthington in their development and have worked hard to bring something needed to the community. But (they are) doing it in a very tasteful Worthington manner."
Cini said he hopes Worthington has confidence in the project and, in particular, the Kemper brand, which has locations in Highland Heights and in Strongsville in northeast Ohio.
"One of the great things is that Kempers have been caring for people with dementia for the last 40-plus years," Cini said. "Betty Kemper opened one of the first Alzheimer's- care units in the nation and was really a pioneer in this.
"So having that experience, plus my 18 years of being in the industry and traveling the world ... what we're building here is a world-class community that will be utilize technology, fitness, diet, different things that are uncommon in the industry right now to really promote better health and fitness for our residents."
For more information, go to kemperhouse.com.