Over forty years ago a very young Kathy Wittmer, working as a Nurse’s Aide at a facility in Washington, got the call to join the staff at Ketcham Memorial Center. KMC sent Kathy to IU for training to become the Activities Director. As time went on she became more and more convinced that caring for the residences of KMC was her calling. Kathy continued her education throughout the years enabling her to hold the positions of Social Service Director, Qualified Mental Retardation Professional, Public Relations, marketing and most recently, in January 2012, assuming the position as the Administrator of the Facility. Kathy has grown into her roles and has done an outstanding job. Because of the attention to detail and love shown by the staff (including Kathy) at KMC, the facility has maintained a 5 Star rating throughout most of Kathy’s 40 years of service. Kathy’s children have grown up at KMC. Her husband and Kathy started a special bingo game on Christmas Day. Her children & grandchildren continue that tradition (40 years this yr.) today.

It is not just the employees that grow at KMC. The facility has been providing skilled care to those in the Northern Daviess County community, per the intent of Bertha Ketcham the original benefactor, for over 45 years. The community owned, not-for-profit skilled nursing facility,opened for business in 1971 and expanded to current capacity with a new wing in 1974. More recently, realizing the need for more outpatient services for those folks who can remain in their homes but needed outpatient therapy, in 2011 KMC broke ground on a state of the art therapy and wellness center, which opened in September 2012. In 2016, a remodeling of the kitchen, nurse’s stations, dining hall maintenance, and laundry and service hallways was completed. Since 2010, the facility has increased capacity from 44 to 62 (KMC’s maximum licensure for beds). For the past year or more there has been a waiting list of people wanting to come to or bring their loved ones to KMC.

As KMC looks to the future, the need for a change from the traditional nursing home is needed. The traditional nursing home is a medical institution built to care for a person’s medical needs so they can remain alive. While that notion sounds noble it lacks one essential element of being active ….and that is living. To address this dilemma, the concept of a Small Home has come to the forefront. The dream for Small Homes is to create an environment that is safer than home but just as comfortable. From choosing what time you want to wake up and go to bed, to when and what to eat. Small Homes are built to accommodate. Small Homes provide the same level of skilled-nursing care wrapped in a different culture that does not believe that medical care is the only kind. The concept is modeled after The Green House Project pioneered by Bill Thomas, MD., and backed by the principles of the Eden Alternative, which promotes the idea that people can grow at any age. Green House Homes house up to 12 elders and utilize staff members who cook, clean, and provide medical care, instead of the traditional nurse, LPN and CNA roles.

In the middle of the Small House is the family style kitchen. It is a space that belongs to the residents. The communal kitchen is where this concept manifests into reality. So much of the American lifestyle is centered on the kitchen and eating meals. It is a piece of the home that is among the most difficult to relinquish. Within the Small House residents help prepare meals as often as they like. If they no longer have the physical ability to help, they are often sought for insight and instruction on how best to make the meal. Cooking has always been a path to independence. When you get older, it is a path to share traditions. (https://www.mcknights.com/guest-columns/the-big-difference-of-small-homes/article/488415/)

KMC’s Small House/ Memory Care unit is being designed to meet the needs of those individuals who may not need skilled nursing care but still require 24-hour nursing assistance. Specially trained certified nursing assistants will provide person- centered care. The small house will be state & federally licensed, enabling the use of Medicare, Medicaid, LTC Insurance & Private funds.

As KMC grows and moves forward the board of directors thank Kathy, and all the staff for bringing the facility to the success it is today, and look forward to their help as we move forward in building a Small House for the increasing number of Dementia patients throughout the North Daviess Community. While the facility has been saving money for this capital project, financial assistance from the community in making the Small House a reality is much appreciated. Two fund raising community events are planned. This October 7th there will be a Bubble Run in Odon and a dinner/dance is planned for the spring.

If you would like to donate to this cause or donate in remembrance of a loved one, please contact KMC at 812-636-4920.