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New needs drive renovation

May 1, 2010
by Keith Mason
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Livengrin moves rehab beds to residences, plans to repurpose historic manor house and wings

“A patient will continue to have access to the full community psychoeducational lectures and focus groups,” says Dr. Lorman, “though the focal point of the experience still centers around the structure and security of their small therapeutic group that meets regularly. We believe that the new, moderate-sized sub-community of about 20 patients in each residence will add another level of interaction.”

Two dwellings are projected to house male patients, and one for women. Most rehab program components at Livengrin are currently segregated by gender to encourage more openness in group discussion of personal issues. Livengrin's facility site plan identifies two additional locations for potential fourth and fifth residence buildings.

The century-old manor house at livengrin foundation in bensalem, pa.
The century-old manor house at Livengrin Foundation in Bensalem, PA.

Clinically (and also from a strategic planning perspective), discrete housing units will allow for optimal flexibility when developing specific programs or tracks that may require a specific population to be housed separately, such as programs for adolescents or seniors. “In the future,” says Dr. Lorman, “should we decide that a single residence would house a discrete program, the needs of the patients-clinical, medical, social, and physiologic-could be met within this setting without the distractions of the general community.”

Once all rehab patients are in the new buildings, the second phase of the renovation will transform the old dorm wing and second-floor bedrooms of the main building for additional program functions.

To maintain a caring environment that will encompass patients' holistic needs, Livengrin will set up areas for meditation, exercise and physical health, a computer learning center and library, meeting rooms, and other needs that may be identified. The staff and administration will also expand into those old bedrooms.

Local support for funding and design

The residential project is expected to cost $2,500,000, and fundraising was accomplished without a capital campaign. Eighty percent of the cost is from the Foundation's Board-designated funds and bank financing. Completing the budget is a $500,000 grant from Pennsylvania's Redevelopment Capital Assistance Program, based on recommendations from State Rep. Gene DiGirolamo (R-Bucks), a longtime advocate for addiction treatment.

“I was very pleased to be able to help assist Livengrin in obtaining this state grant,” says DiGirolamo. “Livengrin has been helping individuals overcome the struggles of addiction for many years, and now, there is so much good that will result from this project. The work this grant supports benefits all of us.”

The general designs for the homes, both exterior and interior, are modeled on plans provided by a member of the Board, homebuilder Ben Ciliberto of C&M Builders in Bucks County. “Having someone with his years of experience in the myriad details of home construction was such a boon to us,” says Pine, “especially in the crucial stages of planning, permits, selection of the architects, and so much else that was going on.”

New inpatient residences will replace the dorm rooms in livengrin's historic manor house and rehab wing (rear)
New inpatient residences will replace the dorm rooms in Livengrin's historic manor house and rehab wing (rear).

Design and construction experts for Livengrin's dorms-to-residences project were also recruited locally in the Bucks County area. Stampfl Hartke Associates of Holicong, PA, provided architectural services for the facilities, and Van Cleef Associates of Doylestown, PA, provided engineering expertise.

The Pennsylvania funding, with its inherent documentation processes, is doled out to Livengrin with each chapter of the project. An independent consultant assigned by the Commonwealth monitors all the steps so that every concern for taxpayer expenditures and adherence to safety, construction, and environmental issues is addressed. The Foundation also submitted a detailed report to the appropriate state historical agency to alleviate any concerns that the construction might damage worthwhile remnants of the past, be it evidence of Native American, colonial, or other life.

As with almost any construction project of any size, this one has had its share of challenges-from the initial design discussions through the contracting and bid process. “It's been a credit to everyone involved that our shovel is in the ground,” says Pine. “From the Board facilities committee led by Don Billingsley, to our local labor union officials and the leadership in Bensalem Township-it ‘takes a village’ to do a lot of things, and it's taking exactly that to make these three residences a reality in the fall of 2010.”

“Livengrin has been providing high-quality, affordable treatment for 44 years,” says Pine. “No doubt, we could have continued to do that without this expansion. But the reality of competition, coupled with the sophisticated consumer in today's world of high-tech comparison shopping, demand that we update our facilities to give our patients and referring partners the best treatment value for the dollar.

“They deserve no less.”

Keith Mason is Communications Director at Livengrin Foundation.

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Behavioral Healthcare 2010 May;30(5):30-32