by Jeff Bell
Special to The Leaven
OLATHE — Progress in the senior living industry is on the way to Johnson County. But first, a blessing.
As Santa Marta, a continuing care retirement community sponsored by the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas, got set to break ground on a new $11 million expansion of its Health Center in Olathe, Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann stopped by to celebrate Mass and to offer a blessing of the ground on which the project will soon take shape.
The Aug. 21 event included comments from the archbishop, as well as Santa Marta board chairman Bob Bregant. It wasn’t a typical groundbreaking with shovels and ribbons, but was instead an intimate, indoor event that allowed for reflection on the work to come.
“The support of the archdiocese is critical to the health of our community, from both a spiritual and financial standpoint,” said Bregant. “The archbishop is here to share in the promise of what this groundbreaking will mean for the entire community.”
Archbishop Naumann said the expansion is at the heart of the faith mission of both the archdiocese and the larger community — to bring additional options for compassionate, world-class care for seniors at Santa Marta and throughout the area.
“This work should unite our faith and make us even more grateful,” he said. “When we work for our neighbor and community, we become God’s co-workers.”
The archbishop also offered a prayer for those who will work on the project, asking God to keep them safe as they help bring the expansion to completion.
Addressing a large group of residents, board members, staff and others who turned out to mark the occasion, the archbishop joked with residents that they weren’t the only ones to call Santa Marta home.
“Pope Francis lives at Santa Marta as well,” he said. “It’s a different address, of course, but his home shares the name.”
Bregant stressed that the goal of the project is to continue to live up to the promise made to residents and community leadership.
“We want to make sure Santa Marta continues to be a world-class facility,” he said. “A lot of planning has gone into making this day possible, and that planning has been based, in part, on resident input.”
Archbishop Naumann echoed those sentiments.
“You, our residents, really make this a wonderful place to live with purpose,” he said.
Santa Marta, which was built in 2006 and 2007, has been monitoring trends in senior living as its current Health Center stayed busy, often with a waiting list. Those trends have pointed to an increased need for quality health care options for seniors in the Johnson County area and helped lead to the decision to expand.
The expansion, announced earlier this year by Santa Marta, will include 18 skilled nursing private rooms, 12 memory support suites, eight assisted living suites and a new rehabilitation gym. The community says it’s meant to benefit residents, as well as respond to a growing area demand for quality senior living options, from assisted living to skilled nursing.
The project’s development consultant, Greystone Communities, Inc., estimates that construction should be finished by early 2017.