Shepherd of the Valley Finally Gets to Celebrate Newest Facility
LIBERTY, Ohio – As COVID-19 slowed everything down, the new Shepherd of the Valley location on Tibbetts-Wick Road was just gearing up to open.
Construction was completed on the 22-month, $37 million building project in July 2020. The latest facility of Shepherd of the Valley, which has served for 51 years in the Mahoning Valley, offers skilled nursing, a six-bed ventilator unit, 30 independent and 39 assisted-living apartments and a locked memory care unit with space for 20 people.
The first resident, Joanne Beil, came to live in the new facility in August, but until she clipped the ribbon during a dedication ceremony outside the facility Wednesday afternoon, there had not been much fanfare.
“Due to the pandemic, we weren’t able to have a formal open house,” said CEO Rich Limongi. “We tried on a few different occasions to actually have that … so almost three years later we’re able to do so. We’re excited that we’re able to have our churches, our business partners, our families, our residents and our staff to be here to celebrate with us as we celebrate the new opening of our Liberty campus here.”
Beil and a number of residents came to sing, pray and celebrate the opening of the facility, which they have already been calling home for some time.
“[Beil] moved into our independent apartments, and she’s doing well and thriving,” Limongi said. “We have a really strong group of independent residents here. They’re constantly taking bus trips and utilizing the wellness center.”
Additionally, Limongi said the facility offers both Lutheran and ecumenical worship options for residents.
Operating with a Christian philosophy, Shepherd of the Valley is a nonprofit family of retirement communities dedicated to providing the highest levels of care since 1972.
This campus joins three others – Howland, Boardman and Poland. The corporate office is in Austintown, which also serves as the headquarters for the At Home with Shepherd program, an at-home health agency. Employing just under 500 employees, Shepherd of the Valley serves more than 600 residents.
Baker Bednar and Snyder were the architects for this project, and DeSalvo Construction managed the construction. Rob Wilt served as the site supervisor for DeSalvo Construction.
“Aligning yourself with partners such as those two organizations makes such a smooth transition and quality project overall,” Limango said, who notes while this facility was all built at once, it is still in the growing phase. Shepherd bought 55 acres, but the current project sits on only 19 of those, so there could be room for future growth, such as possible condominiums.
Limongi, said the facility, the largest project in the Shepherd of the Valley family of retirement care facilities, was meant to replace the original Shepherd of the Valley facility, which had been located in Niles.
Rick Mattix, a licensed nursing home administrator, is associate director at Shepherd of the Valley, including the day-to-day management of the new Liberty facility, which he feels happens smoothly because of the staff.
More than 100 people work in about six different departments in the Liberty facility alone.
“I’ve always said I have the best staff anybody can hope for,” Mattix said. “They make my job easier, and it’s nice to try to promote a product that has a great reputation. We do, and that’s because of them.”
Even without much promotion, Mattix said there has been a lot of interest in the new facility. While there is room for more in some areas, the memory care unit is full.
“I think we’re doing pretty good because all of our admissions and interest has been based on word of mouth,” Mattix said.
The larger size of the facility is due in part to bringing the independent living inside the larger facility instead of in separate homes outside.
“We have independent-living units within this complex, whereas in Poland and Howland, they’re condos and they’re removed,” Mattix said, adding there it felt like there was a disconnect, whereas here skilled nursing is right down the hallway for them.
On Wednesday, there was an open house celebration inside with food and live music. Mattix said COVID prevented them from using the dining room, lounges and other public areas for too long. But now the place is coming to life with visitors and residents getting a chance to use all of the facilities, families visiting and children singing carols for the residents.
After finally getting to celebrate this newest facility, Limongi admits Shepherd of the Valley’s board members already are looking at a couple of other future opportunities, which he said could include creating some more affordable housing for independent living and smaller homes for assisted living.
Pictured at top: Rich Limongi, executive director and CEO of Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Retirement Services, during the ribbon-cutting and dedication service for the organization’s newest location on Tibbetts-Wick Road.
Copyright 2023 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.