Home Is Where The Heart Is

Staff Writer

From one family’s beginnings in health care, one local facility has helped that beginning turn into a strong industry, benefitting the aging population.

Vancrest St. Marys had its early beginnings when Dr. Ed (E.E.) White returned from serving at a Navy hospital in the South Pacific during World War II and became a physician who had an interest in geriatrics, said Vancrest CEO and son of E.E. White, Mark White. Starting his medical career in St. Marys, E.E. White eventually moved to Van Wert in 1960 after Van Wert County opened a new hospital, opening the door for White to open a geriatric hospital.

“At the time, it was one of only a few in the state,” Mark White said. “The longterm care business was different at that time because you didn’t have Medicare or Medicaid so there weren’t too many nursing homes around. In 1964, that changed with the creation of those programs and then you had all these nursing homes popping up to meet that demand.”

Vancrest began expanding into the nursing home field in the mid 1960s and has grown to 12 facilities in northwest and west central Ohio. The St. Marys location was purchased in 2014, bringing the White family back to where its roots were.

“When we had the opportunity to buy this facility, we bought it site unseen and it was in less than ideal condition,” White said. “We invested some money in repairs and vastly improved what we had here.

“It’s always great to come home and if you can come home to provide a service, then that’s even better.”

Now, those roots are running even deeper as Vancrest St. Marys continues the work on its new 85-bed facility at 1035 Hager St. The $11 million structure will broaden the reach of Vancrest, allowing it to serve more of the community White and his family are proud to be a part of. 

With a projected move in date for residents of early October, there is still plenty of work to be done but once it’s completed, White said the new building will offer more features to more residents.

The center will have room for 35 assisted living apartments, 50 nursing home beds and 16 rehabilitation suites to allow patients a comfortable and helpful place to get back on their feet after medical care.

“Partnering with the hospital is an excellent thing for us which makes it excellent for the residents,” White said. “We want to make sure we deliver care that is receptive to the needs and wants of the families. Having us be local like this means we’re in touch with the area and what people need where we are.”

The partnership with Grand Lake Health Systems is also creating a benefit for the elderly who may not be residents or patients but want somewhere to get some exercise in a safe location. The building will feature a wellness center — staffed by hospital personnel — that includes a two-lane walking track that will make a mile at 16 times around, 14,000 square feet of therapy service and exercise equipment for community members age 50 and over including treadmills, elliptical trainers and stationary bicycles.

“It really is a win-win for us and the community,” White said.

In preparation for the completion of the building, Vancrest is planning an open house to invite the community to see the new facility. No date has been set yet but White said September will be about the time it will be ready.

“We’ll have some licensing to wrap up before we move the residents but the building will be done,” he said.