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Saturday, April 10, 2021

James L. West Center starts reconstruction project

Robert Francis


The James L. West Center is making some changes. The Alzheimer’s center is replacing existing living quarters into five new suites, which will each accommodate 20 living units, for a total of over 100 residents. The first suite’s construction will begin in January.   The changes will mark the end to traditional nursing stations for residents at the James L. West Center. Replacing those stations will be a residential-style design that includes quality medical care in a research-based living environment, according to James L. West officials.

“With the aging of the baby boomer generation, our nation will experience seniors with dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease far beyond the capacity of nursing homes, dementia centers and Alzheimer’s centers such as ours,” said Dennis R. Johnson, chairman of the James L. West Center board of directors. “There are simply not enough facilities to meet all the needs. “We are creating a living and learning environment that helps our residents enjoy more of a home experience rather than a medical feel. Gone will be the nursing stations, replaced by a residential touch with a medical overlay.”

Total cost for the renovation is $12.4 million. The capital campaign for the project has raised $11.4 million so far. Officials said some naming opportunities remain available. The James L. West Center began its outreach to caregiver training in 2011 with a two-year grant from the Sid W. Richardson Foundation that provided a free six-step training program for caregivers treating loved ones in the home. This new approach moves that same caregiver model training forward. The four-story James L. West Center has a total of 92,000 square feet space. 

These changes are profound, said J.T. Aughinbaugh, past chairman of the board and chairman of the capital campaign. “Our residential capacity is staying exactly the same, and it has been for 20 years and will continue to be going forward,” he said. “The difference is we are now having a teaching center, really a research center, to be able to teach the community to care for loved ones — family members who are suffering from Alzheimer’s.” Susan Farris, executive director of the West Center, said the end result will be better home care for the Alzheimer’s patient, not only at the center, but for home care as well. “We are prepared to break the model of traditional dementia and Alzheimer’s care in order to help families discover how to provide proper attention at home,” she said. “One of the things we’re looking for in this new environment is teaching families how to give this care at home. Family members will be able to come to the center to our home environment and bring their loved one with dementia for short stays so they can learn more about what’s going on with their mom or dad and how to care for her or him at home.”

This project will renovate two and one-half floors of residential living area, including 56,000 square feet of renovation, and will be performed in 5 phases. The project scope includes mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) replacement, upgrade to all finishes, new casework, new food service equipment, as well as exterior building upgrades.

The project is scheduled for 15 months, with construction to begin in January 2015

.Mayor Betsy Price attended the ceremony announcing the project on Dec. 3.   “James L. West Center was the first in this area, and the third in the nation, to dedicate itself to Alzheimer’s research,” she said. “As we focus on a community that includes FIT Worth and a Blue Zone, this program adds to our valuable resources. Thank you for making Fort Worth even better.”  

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Robert Francis
Robert is a Fort Worth native and longtime editor of the Fort Worth Business Press. He is a former president of the local Society of Professional Journalists and was a freelancer for a variety of newspapers, weeklies and magazines, including American Way, BrandWeek and InformatonWeek. A graduate of TCU, Robert has held a variety of writing and editing positions at publications such as the Grand Prairie Daily News and InfoWorld. He is also a musician and playwright.

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