Winsted-Lester Prairie Journal, March 6, 2000

A mission of memories for St. Mary's Care Center residents

By Jill Hess-Kollasch
St. Mary's Care Center Administrator

It is no secret that the nursing home industry is in the midst of significant change. Customers expect a level of service that challenges even the best facilities.

St. Mary's Care Center is no different than our competitors. We struggle to find adequate numbers of qualified employees, while continuing to meet the individual needs of each customer in a compassionate and caring way.

However, sometimes the greatest challenges bring forth our best efforts. St. Mary's has developed a new resident program called "Fine Dining."

Each month, we transform our chapel into the Chapel Inn. Tables are set with china, crystal and crisp linens. Flowers, candles and soft music enhance the atmosphere.

Just as in a fine restaurant, guests are shown to their reserved table and offered a glass of wine, while they review the menu for the evening.

Wait staff take guest's orders, offering choices of soup, salad, entrees, potato and vegetables. The meal ends with a choice from the dessert tray.

The evening concludes with a photograph of each resident, with his or her guests, which is framed and presented to the resident as a special memory of the event.

"We would like to do meals like this all the time," said cooks Terri Wiederholt and Diane Hertzog, both of whom have worked hard to provide this program.

Staff have been very positive about helping to support the event, even volunteering to work as waitresses and waiters. One guest stated that the meal "was just like being on a cruise ship."

At St. Mary's, we believe that programs like Fine Dining help to set us apart from the average long-term care facility. It helps us to add life to our core value of hospitality.

After all, our mission includes adding life to years, and if we re-create the memory of a special meal on a cruise, we have succeeded in our mission.

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