Mitchell-Hollingsworth Nursing & Rehab Center in Florence has been a pillar of the community since its founding in 1952. Leaders recently broke ground for a transformative renovation they believe will solidify the skilled nursing care center’s place in the Shoals area for decades to come.

Design of the lobby. Photo courtesy of TurnerBatson Architects.

Design of the lobby. Photo courtesy of TurnerBatson Architects.

“By and large, the renovation is going to be front-to-back and top to bottom,” Mitchell-Hollingsworth Administrator Brian Scheri said. “We’ll work on walls, ceilings and floors and basically resurface the inside of the entire building.”

On the outside, traffic patterns will be re-routed to allow better access to a renovated main lobby entrance and a new entrance for the rehab center. Both entrances will be covered. With more than 300 employees caring for up to 222 people at a time, Mitchell-Hollingsworth is a busy place.

“In order to make the traffic flow smoother, we’re eliminating one entrance and opening up another one,” Scheri explained. “We’ll have a separate entrance for ambulance transportation, visitors and families coming in. It will be a lot more comfortable for new patients when they arrive and for their loved ones when they visit.”

The extra vehicular traffic and more people coming and going is a byproduct of Mitchell-Hollingsworth adapting to the ever changing health care needs of the community. The number of patients using the center for short term rehabilitation continues to increase as it adapts to market needs and patient preferences.

“Over time, we’ve realized the market has increased for sub-acute rehab,” Scheri said. “We currently have a 28-bed capacity in our rehab unit. At the end of this renovation, we’ll have 50 rehab beds.”

Special considerations during construction

Design of a new nurse station. Photo courtesy of TurnerBatson Architects.

Design of a new nurse station. Photo courtesy of TurnerBatson Architects.

The project took more than 18 months of planning and preparation. Construction is expected to last at least 12 months. It’s important to remember that this project is not as simple as picking up a hammer and shovel. The center will continue to provide skilled nursing and rehab throughout construction. Residents and patients will have to temporarily relocate to other parts of the building when certain sections are shut down for renovation.

“It’s paramount that we do this safely and not affect the delivery of care,” Scheri said. “We, as facility staff, will have to be about two steps ahead of the builders so we can notify the residents and family members and get them prepared to temporarily be in a different room or area of the building.”

While a project of this magnitude is likely to cause some temporary inconveniences, Scheri expects the end product will be worth the wait and send a strong message to the community.

“This renovation says everything about our commitment to Florence and the Shoals area,” Scheri said. “We’re looking at these renovations to carry us forward for the next 15 to 20 years. Also, the majority of the sub-contractors are from this area. We sought input from current residents and family members during the planning process. We want to continue to be a viable part of the community and be known as a health care center that adapts to change and the needs of the community.”

TurnerBatson Architects designed the project, and Rives Construction is the general contractor.

Design of the new rehab center entrance. Photo courtesy of TurnerBatson Architects.

Design of the new rehab center entrance. Photo courtesy of TurnerBatson Architects.