Jonas Hoedebecke

Jonas Hoedebecke, administrator of Accolade Healthcare of Paxton Senior Living, outlines plans to build a 44-bed assisted-living wing at the nursing home at 450 E. Fulton St.

PAXTON — If assisted living would have been an option in Paxton for Deane Geiken’s mother, she would not be where she is today — in the unfamiliar city of Rantoul, miles away from her family.

“That would have been a deal-breaker,” Geiken said.

Geiken was among several Paxton aldermen to voice their support — and the need in their community — for an assisted-living facility during Tuesday night’s city council meeting.

They did so after hearing a presentation from Jonas Hoedebecke, administrator of Accolade Healthcare of Paxton Senior Living, who outlined plans to build a 44-bed assisted-living wing at the nursing home at 450 E. Fulton St.

It would be the only assisted-living facility in the Ford County community of 4,473 people.

“It would give us a full CCRC, or continuous care retirement community,” Hoedebecke said, noting that the assisted-living services would supplement the nursing home’s existing independent-living and skilled-nursing services. “It gives (the facility’s residents) a lot of different options, to where they don’t have to bounce around to different locations, because all of those services could be provided at the one location.”

Hoedebecke said he got only “positive feedback” about the idea from “a few dozen” senior citizens attending a local senior fair on Aug. 10.

“They all thought it was necessary,” Hoedebecke said. “When they get to that stage in their life when they need that little bit of additional care, they seem to be struggling with the idea of having to choose to move to either Gibson City or Hoopeston or Rantoul.”

Hoedebecke is now trying to gather names of seniors interested in moving into the assisted-living wing. Hoedebecke said the list would give Accolade Healthcare’s president, Moe Freedman, an accurate idea of the demand so that the project can proceed. Persons interested in getting on the waiting list are asked to email jhoedebecke@accoladehc.com.

“We know we can put the business plan together ... but we’re going to need some names so that we’re not just spending all of this money and then it sits empty,” Hoedebecke said.

Like Geiken, Alderman Kamalen Johnson Anderson said she feels assisted living is needed in Paxton — and would be used.

“We have a lot of elderly population,” Johnson Anderson said. “They’re going from living in their homes to moving into an apartment to moving into assisted living. I have a mother-in-law who would rather be in Paxton, but she’s in Rantoul, as well.”

Hoedebecke said the construction of the two-story assisted-living wing would be only the first phase of a three-phase project. The second phase would involve the renovation of the nursing home’s existing independent-living area in the facility’s basement, he said. Phase three, he said, would involve the construction of eight to 12 independent-living one-story townhomes by the nursing home. Accolade Healthcare also is planning to add 12 skilled-nursing beds to the nursing home.

Hoedebecke estimated that five to 10 jobs would be created, including an executive director, wellness director and “multiple” nursing aides.

As for Accolade Healthcare’s shuttered nursing home on North Market Street, the plan for what to do with that property remains undetermined.

“There are multiple possibilities for that building,” Hoedebecke said. “I would not rule out anything when it comes to the Market Street location.”

Mayor Bill Ingold suggested having the council’s long-term planning committee or economic development committee meet at some point in the future to further discuss Accolade Healthcare’s project once its gets closer to becoming a reality.