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Lourdes Senior Community broke ground on addition to rehabilitation and healthcare center

When Lourdes Nursing Home was dedicated on May 1, 1965, it was a state-of-the-art facility serving some 100 seniors with outstanding care.  The outstanding care has continued – it’s been judged one of the nation’s best two years in a row by U.S. News & World Report – but the time has come for new construction to enhance the quality of life in a facility more appropriately called the Lourdes Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center.
 
A groundbreaking ceremony took place on May 13, at 2300 Watkins Lake Road.  The event also began a 50th anniversary celebration of the facility, culminating on May 1 of next year. 
 
A new one-story building – located in an area by part of the existing facility – will retain wooded areas and walking paths near picturesque Scott Lake.  The primary goals are to improve resident units, the therapy center, common areas and exterior appeal. 
 
“Our goal in this project and all of our 50th anniversary activities is to continue echoing our commitment of “Ensuring Our Legacy for Future Generations,” said Sister Maureen Comer, OP, Chief Executive Officer of Lourdes Senior Community.  “We have been blessed to serve many seniors over the years and proud of the contributions by our staff, supporters and families.  We are eager to keep moving forward with outstanding care while remaining faithful to our core values:  Dignity, Service, Compassion and Spirituality.”   
 
In the present center, 15 percent of the 108 rooms are private, 70 percent are semi-private and 15 percent are four-bed wards.  The first stage of the project will include 50 private rooms with private baths and other amenities, including closet space, desk and flat-screen television in 300 square feet of living space.  The beautiful chapel overlooking Scott Lake will remain the crown jewel of the center, connected to the new structure.
 
In addition, there will be a new therapy center, an indoor town square that will be a lovely gathering area for residents and visitors, and administrative offices.  The lower level will include a new addition for an expanded employee education room and information technology center.  Other sections will be renovated to improve the employee lounge and power plant, including new, energy efficient boilers.  This stage is expected to be completed by early Fall 2015.
 
The Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center is the anchor that led to the founding of Fox Manor on the Lake independent living (1991), Mendelson Home assisted living (2001) and Clausen Manor memory care (1995).  Today the overall Lourdes community has grown to some 250 residents served by a staff of 270.
 
The roots of how Lourdes came to be are nearly 100 years old.  In July of 1918, Aaron Mendelson purchased land near Scott Lake and eventually built a summer home after his retirement in 1926 from Fisher Body, where he had been a leading figure in the large automotive supplier that merged with General Motors.  He called the estate Menscola – “Men” for Mendelson, “Sco” for Scott and “La” for Lake.
 
After Aaron’s death in 1933, the property was inherited by son Herbert and daughter Gladys, although neither was interested in retaining the estate.  The Mendelson family has for many years been known for philanthropy – from Aaron and his wife, Jennie, to Herbert and his wife, Marie, to Gladys and her husband, Bernard Kuhn, to the present day of Joseph and his wife, Barbara.  In 1939, Herbert and Gladys donated the estate to Archbishop Edward Mooney for the Archdiocese of Detroit.
 
When Archbishop Mooney learned in the same year that the Dominican Sisters of Oxford were searching for a new site for their Motherhouse, he donated the Mendelson estate to them in exchange for their Motherhouse in Warren.  In 1948, the superior of the Order, Mother Mary Joseph, decided to move the Motherhouse to a larger facility in Oxford, and the Order expanded its ministry beyond a teaching apostolate to care for the sick and elderly.  To accommodate the new ministry, the Motherhouse was transformed into a healthcare facility, named Menscola Convalescent Home.  It opened in November that year, staffed by five sisters.
 
As time went on, Archbishop John Dearden and other leaders in the Archdiocese of Detroit were keenly aware of the special needs of seniors for housing and medical care and the benefits of a larger facility.  In 1962, the Archbishop asked the Dominican Sisters of Oxford to staff a proposed nursing home on the Mendelson property.  The Sisters would convert Mendelson Convalescent Home into a convent.  
 
The nursing home was named “Lourdes” in honor of the French shrine where multitudes of people come each year for physical and spiritual healing.  Financed by a $1 million loan from the Archdiocese and a major project of the 1963 Archdiocesan Development Drive, the groundbreaking ceremony was February 11, 1964, the feast day of Our Lady of Lourdes.
 
The nursing home was dedicated by Archbishop Dearden on that May 1 date in 1965, providing 24-hour skilled care for seniors, regardless of race, creed or ability to pay.  The building, with three wings, contained private and semi-private rooms.  Among the initial amenities were a chapel, large lounge areas and dining facilities, X-ray and occupational and physical therapy centers, a hydrotherapy unit and a beauty-barber shop, plus an enclosed courtyard providing a secure haven for residents to enjoy the outdoors.
 
In 2009, the Dominican Sisters of Oxford joined six other religious congregations to form the Dominican Sisters of Peace, who took over sponsorship of Lourdes from the Archdiocese of Detroit in 2012.  The overall Lourdes community continues to grow and thrive, providing outstanding care for seniors with its core values of Dignity, Service, Compassion and Spirituality.
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