GIFFORD — Country Health Nursing Home officials have unveiled the results of a multimillion-dollar renovation.
The $8.9 million project was started in 2008 and involved remodeling and expansion.
Administrator Chris Kasper said Gifford area residents have been enthusiastic in their backing of the project and have contributed a great deal.
"Everybody just thinks it's amazing. They can't believe it's a nursing home," Kasper said of the facility's interior.
"For what our rates are, they're very pleased with the price because we're very competitive with the area. We've had a lot of excellent comments on the care because we're a five-star facility with CMS Nursing Home Compare."
Kasper said Country Health was recently listed one of the top 50 nursing homes in Illinois by U.S. News and World Report. It received five out of five stars based on health inspections, nurse staffing and quality measures.
The nursing home's expansion, designed by Worn Jerabek Architects of Chicago, included gutting and renovating the building's original 37 rooms and adding 27 more rooms in extensions that branch off from the south and north wings.
Whereas before some rooms housed as many as four residents, now there are private rooms and rooms with two residents.
The rooms also include more amenities than before, with an oval sitting area and walk-in shower. Each room also has its own closet.
The most recent phase of the project has included renovating the core of the building, which encompasses a new chapel, new activity room, beauty shop, physicians office and renovation of the old dining room. The front entryway was also completed.
Kasper said the nursing home, with enough capacity for 89 residents, is quickly filling up.
Earlier this month, there were 80 residents, which Kasper said wasn't anticipated until mid- to late summer.
As a result, the nursing home has had to purchase a second van to drive residents to appointments and activities.
"We're seeing a lot of husbands and wives move in," he said.
Also, one spouse might move into the nursing home while the other will take an apartment at the Pleasant View independent living facility next door.
Most of Country Health's residents hail from the area.
Kasper said the project has not been an easy one, but he said the public has made it easier — "the way the community kicked in and the churches."
Much of that help came in the form of monetary donations. Most recently, the nursing home auxiliary donated exterior signage and all the dishes for the new dining room.
Area churches have resumed conducting worship services at Country Health with the completion of the chapel.
Donations also allowed for the purchase of a modern player piano and artwork.
"It's nice to have (such a nursing home) in a rural area. It's a major employer for the area," Kasper said. Country Health currently employs 92 workers.
Kasper said nursing home officials tried to award as many contracts as possible to area businesses.
The project has been funded largely through the nursing home's corporate fund, an expansion fund loan and more than $200,000 in donations from Gifford residents.
Kasper said last year that $1.1 million came through a USDA grant with the assistance of Eastern Illini Cooperative in Paxton.
Country Health Nursing Home was built in 1968, is governed by a nine-member volunteer board and is managed by Heritage Enterprises Inc., Bloomington.