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Ground broke on assisted living facility

RICH SQUARE — It’s out with the old and in with the new.

Over the next year or so, residents and staff of the Rich Square Medical Center campus will watch their new facility spring to life.

On Tuesday, a ground breaking ceremony was held to kick off construction of the new 28,000 square foot assisted living facility that will be built next to the current campus.

According to Rich Square Medical Center Administrator Juanita Frazier, the new building will be a 69-bed skilled nursing facility.

“Essentially it’s replacing this building,” she said, referencing one of the facility’s buildings.

The buildings on the campus were originally used as a motel, until James Johnson bought the property. Age Mark of Hickory now serves as the facility’s management company.

Frazier said the lot where the new facility will be located was purchased in the fall.

“We had three choices, (including) moving to Conway or go to Lake Gaston,” said Frazier. “The choice was to stay here.”

Frazier said the new building will allow staff to continue to serve residents with the three levels of care (skilled nursing, assisted living and Alzheimer specialization unit) already existing at the campus.

The Rich Square Medical Center is the only facility in the southern portion of Northampton County that has three levels of care.

The new building will allow for future expansion as well. Frazier said independent home units are hoped to be added to the campus, expanding the campus’s care level to four.

County and town officials along with a representative from the Northampton County Chamber of Commerce gathered at the ground breaking site to celebrate with residents and staff, the latter wearing bright yellow “2008 Ground Breaking” commemorative shirts.

Rich Square Mayor Doris “Peggy” Risper offered a congratulatory speech to staff and residents.

“This will be a wonderful asset to the citizens here and the town of Rich Square,” she said of the new facility. “We’re excited and delighted to be a part of their venture.”

Frazier became emotional while speaking about the new facility to the crowd and recalling how residents and staff crowded the window with smiles and tears as the first of the construction equipment rolled up.

“That’s the most touching thing that’s happen,” she said.

According to Mary Leslie Yount, the Director of Corporate Relations for Age Mark, the facility is being built by Integrated Construction of Jacksonville, Florida. The scheduled completion date is for end of 2009 or by the first or second quarter of 2010.

Work on the building will begin soon.