Centre Care kicks off $6M fundraising campaign for new facility

PHOTO PROVIDED Centre Crest recently kicked off a fundraising campaign for its new facility recently. Pictured are, from left, front, Charlie Myers, Centre Crest Resident Council President; back, Centre Care Board President Betsy Boyer, Centre Care Campaign Chair Al Jones, Centre Care Campaign Honorary Chair Molly Schwartz, and Andrew Naugle, Centre Crest Administrator.

BELLEFONTE — Nearly 50 people attended the official kick off of Centre Care’s fundraising campaign recently. The group aims to raise $6 million for a new health care center located off the Benner Pike in College Township.

The group announced more than $3.1 million has already been raised this fall thanks to generous donations from local community members and foundations. The event was held at Centre Crest in Bellefonte, which will move into the building when it is finished in 2020-Centre Care is the nonprofit that operates Centre Crest.

Centre County resident Molly Schwartz, the campaign’s honorary chair, said her involvement with Centre Crest began in the 1980s when her grandmother was a resident and continued as a volunteer during the holidays and for its hospice program. In her professional career, she also worked with Centre Crest when she served as the director of Centre Home Care.

“I’m excited to help lead this campaign. There will certainly be a greater need for long-term care in the near future and the larger rooms and additional amenities for residents at the new facility are just wonderful,” she said. “We need this in Centre County.”

In August, the U.S. Department of Agriculture approved a $34 million construction loan for the new health center. However, it requires Centre Care to raise an additional $6 million.

The campaign, titled “Building a Community of Care: Brick by Brick Campaign,” will raise funds to construct a new 240-bed healthcare center designed to serve both long-term residents and those seeking rehabilitation. The new facility will also be the largest of just three Centre County nursing facilities licensed to accept Medicaid insurance.

“Donations to this campaign ensures high quality, affordable, healthcare for Centre County residents. This isn’t just another healthcare facility, it’s a home for Centre County,” Betsy Boyer, Centre Care’s Board President, said.

A building-block-themed reception at Centre Crest was completed with cupcakes with block decorations, block-shaped lollipops and a wall made from foam blocks.

The kickoff is another step in a journey that began in 2013, when the county-which owned and operated the Centre Crest since 1938-transitioned ownership of the facility to the nonprofit board. Prior to the transition, the nursing home operated at a loss. In its first year after the transition, the board turned around the business and has operated in the black every year since-saving the county tax dollars.

The state-of-the-art health center will offer traditional long-term care, as well as three specialty neighborhoods that are in high demand for Centre County residents-a high acuity neighborhood for patients with complex medical conditions; a memory care neighborhood of which there are few in the area; and a short-term rehabilitation neighborhood. The site also has room to grow and expand services in the future.

According to research, the demand for nursing, personal care and memory care for those older than 85 in Central Pennsylvania will increase 6 percent by 2020 and even more in the following decades.

To donate or learn more, visit www.centrecare.org.