Virginia Lt. Gov. Bolling called Heron Cove at Sanders "an incredible advancement."

Lt Governor Bill Bolling Cuts Ribbon at Heron Cove
Virginia Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling and
Ruth Marchant cut the ribbon, officially
opening Heron Cove at Sanders.

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Gloucester VA – Sharing the handle of a golden pair of scissors, Virginia Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling and Ruth Marchant cut a green Riverside Health System ribbon Tuesday afternoon, officially opening Heron Cove at Sanders. Next month Marchant will be among the first of Virginia's older adults to live in the state's first freestanding household model of care for older adults.

"It's amazing to think you are taking…residents from an institutional setting and moving them into a home," said Virginia Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling.

Bolling served as the ribbon cutting's keynote speaker and complimented Heron Cove at Sanders and Riverside for improving the quality of its residents' lives and setting a new standard for how older adults are cared for in Virginia.

More than 250 people attended the ribbon cutting at Heron Cove, including, among other dignitaries, Virginia State Del. Keith Hodges, Gloucester Treasurer Tara Thomas, Gloucester Sheriff Darrel Warren and Gloucester Board of Supervisors Chairman Carter Borden.  Heron Cove is located on Heron Cove Way off of Gloucester Courthouse's Main Street.

A small reception and tours followed the official ceremonies.

Heron Cove at Sanders is made up of two houses that replace Sanders Retirement Community's 50-year-old nursing home.

The creation and construction of Sanders Retirement Village a half century ago stemmed from the need for a facility equipped to provide quality care to some of the area's most vulnerable residents throughout Gloucester and Virginia's Middle Peninsula.

Gordon Gentry, Chairman of Riverside's Lifelong Health Board, said Riverside is often known for its hospitals, and not as often for its lifelong health services. But the Lifelong Health Division is making progressive moves in how older adults are cared for, illustrated by Heron Cove at Sanders.

It's both the houses and style of care the residents will receive inside that make Heron Cove the first of its kind in Virginia.

Both houses in Heron Cove are designed like traditional homes and feature private bedrooms and bathrooms and open dining and living areas. At the heart of each home sits a family-style kitchen that's resident friendly and meant to bring every aspect of home life to the forefront of daily living.

Gone are the regimented days of nursing home living. At Heron Cove, individual resident routines are known and respected. Residents arise when they choose, eat when they choose, and have the autonomy to be the driver of their daily lives. 

At some point, caring for older adults got caught up in regulations and efficiencies, said
F. Michael Martin, Riverside's Senior Vice President for the Lifelong Health Division.

"We began treating a problem or a disease instead of treating the person," Martin said. "This is about giving normalcy and control back to the residents and their families. This model is a way to honor our mothers and fathers. In Virginia, this started at Riverside, at Sanders, in Gloucester."

Both homes in Heron Cove can accommodate up to 20 residents. One home will provide long-term nursing care and one will provide short-term rehabilitation. The cost of this model of care is comparable to other facilities offering nursing home level of care.

The long-term goal of Riverside's Lifelong Health Division is to bring this model to every nursing facility.

Sanders Retirement Community is one of Riverside's three continuing care retirement communities. It includes assisted living apartments and independent living cottages. Both remain part of the campus.

"The way we fear growing old is more to do with the way we care for older adults," said Steve Shields, CEO of Action Pact Development, the leading organization in household model development and implementation. "You have no reason to fear growing old in Gloucester."

"These houses," Shields said, "they aren't going to pretend to be home. They aren't going to be like home. They are home."


Published: December 12, 2012