Skilled Nursing Facility welcomes new residents

After breakfast Tuesday, Southside Convalescent Hospital residents wait in the lobby for shuttles to take to them to the new nursing home in Hollister.

Moving day finally arrived Tuesday for 52 residents of Southside
Convalescent Hospital who were anxious to settle into their new
home at the William and Inez Mabie Skilled Nursing Facility.
By 9 a.m. the former Southside patients were lined up in the
hall as nursing staff, other hospital employees and 24 volunteers
hustled about, counting heads, reading name tags and helping
patients into vehicles.
Moving day finally arrived Tuesday for 52 residents of Southside Convalescent Hospital who were anxious to settle into their new home at the William and Inez Mabie Skilled Nursing Facility.

By 9 a.m. the former Southside patients were lined up in the hall as nursing staff, other hospital employees and 24 volunteers hustled about, counting heads, reading name tags and helping patients into vehicles.

Some patients were taken to their new home by family members in private cars. Others needed ambulances, while most patients made the two-mile trip in the Jovenes de Antano bus, whose services were donated for the move.

Although residents were told they were moving on Tuesday, many of them were skeptical. The new facility was scheduled to open in the spring of 2002 but the opening was postponed.

“We had to move the dates so much they just didn’t believe it,” said Mary Agredano Garcia, activities director for the facility. “I think this is our third or fourth moving date. Most of them were very excited about the move.”

Some patients, such as Amy Flint, were anxious enough to wheel themselves out.

“She was ready to go. We practically had to hold her back,” said Frankie Munoz, Hazel Hawkins Hospital’s director of marketing and public relations.

Dorothy Wallace was so looking forward to moving into her new home that she packed her bags four weeks ago.

“I was ready four months ago,” Wallace said, smiling but holding back tears. “I would pack things that I didn’t think I would be using right away (and) tuck it in my bag, but then I’d have to take it back out.”

By noon, the last group of patients arrived with a U-Haul truck carrying their belongings not far behind.

“It went very smoothly,” Munoz said. “Staff had them all eating lunch in the new dining room by 12:10 p.m.”

Southside was home for convalescing patients since 1968, but in 1995 the state fire marshal had found enough code violations to permanently shut down the facility. That forced the Hazel Hawkins Hospital District Board of Directors to make a decision – either update the dilapidated building or build a new one.

The new Mabie Skilled Nursing Facility cost $9 million and has 57 beds, only five of which are available. The new facility won’t accept any new patients until sometime next week.

“There’s a waiting list with several names on it that staff will work off,” Munoz said.

While some residents may have found it difficult to leave their familiar surroundings, many staff and family members also found leaving Southside an emotional experience.

“It’s like any moving day when you move into a new home – there’s always an adjustment period,” Munoz said. “But I would say probably staff and family members were more melancholy about it than the patients.”

Though the physical surroundings have changed for the residents, their caretakers have not.

“The nursing staff hasn’t changed at all,” Munoz said. “For some of the patients, because they have the same people taking care of them, it gives them a sense of family.”

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