by Dennis Dalman
Eighteen Sartell residents, all of them members of the Sartell Senior Connection, enjoyed a guided tour of Woodcrest, the new Country Manor senior-living campus in St. Joseph.
The field trip, on the morning of April 26, was one of the ongoing series of trips and/or speakers featured in the Sartell Senior Connection’s “Coffee and Conversation” programs, offered every Thursday morning at 9 a.m. – usually at the Sartell Community Center. Anybody is welcome to join the Thursday sessions. One’s age is not a requirement.
On the morning of April 26, the senior citizens met for coffee and sweets in the chapel area of the living complex, known as “Woodcrest of Country Manor.”
After hearing in detail about the amenities offered by Woodcrest, the seniors split up into two groups and followed their tour guides – Gail Rucks, general manager; and Jason Jones, director of operations, who, like all the tour participants, is also a Sartell resident.
Woodcrest, like its Sartell “parent” Country Manor, is a prime example of what’s called a senior-living continuum facility. It is designed with meticulous attention to the needs of seniors with various living skills and/or physical and mental challenges. For example, most of its residents live independently in their apartments just as they would anywhere else. But there are many of them who can avail themselves of many conveniences not available in other kinds of living complexes. At Woodcrest, as at Country Manor and its nearby Waterford Apartments in Sartell, there is an on-campus bank, pharmacy, store, fitness center, chapel, library area, jigsaw- puzzle room, spa, salon, meals provided under guidance of a chef and communal garden. Specialized transportation is also available for those who need it, although most do not and do their own driving, their vehicles parked in heated garage stalls.
Continuum living also means Woodcrest has a Memory wing for people suffering memory loss because of a variety of causes, including forms of dementia. There are 24 living units for them, with easy access to a large common social space and other recreational rooms and services specially designed for memory-loss patients.
“Continuum” living also means the facility can accommodate any emergency. For example, an independent-living tenant might fall and break bones. During recovery time, that person can receive all kinds of specialized care right on-campus until health returns. There is a constant flexibility for variable living options, which is a concept pioneered by Country Manor years ago.
Like its parent campus, Woodcrest provides rehabilitation services for both inpatients and outpatients.
Country Manor has been an economic bedrock of Sartell for 45 years. It has undergone many expansions throughout the years, most notably the Waterford Apartments next to its main campus and most recently the facility in St. Joseph.
Woodcrest includes three options of living units – apartments, suites and patio homes – 11 patio homes so far.
There are 60 apartments in three wings, each two stories high. The categories of apartments are named after trees – Birch, Oak, Mahogany and so forth, based on an apartment’s size, layout and price range. They rent from $2,145 a month up to $3,295.
The first tour group, led by Jason Jones, visited the Memory Center wing of the building, the chapel, fitness room, the Man Cave and an unoccupied Oak-category apartment, which tour participants admired for its large airy, light-filled rooms: huge living room, two bedrooms, spacious kitchen, laundry area, bathrooms.
The Man Cave (aka Tamarack Lounge), with a stuffed fish on the wall, is a large room where men gather for male camaraderie, TV sports shows, conversation, snacks and a wall of personal liquor cabinets for those who want to keep their own bottles on the premises.
What many residents enjoy frequently, Jones said, are the views of the wooded outdoors from all of the rooms of Woodcrest. There are often sightings of deer, ducks, wild turkeys, sandhill cranes and other marvels of nature.
Most residents of Woodcrest, Jones noted, are people who’ve lived in the area most of their lives. Others, however, come to live there from other places, other states, in order to be closer geographically to their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Author: Dennis Dalman
Dalman was born and raised in South St. Cloud, graduated from St. Cloud Tech High School, then graduated from St. Cloud State University with a degree in English (emphasis on American and British literature) and mass communications (emphasis on print journalism). He studied in London, England for a year (1980-81) where he concentrated on British literature, political science, the history of Great Britain and wrote a book-length study of the British writer V.S. Naipaul. Dalman has been a reporter and weekly columnist for more than 30 years and worked for 16 of those years for the Alexandria Echo Press.