By Kevin Anderson, Wesley President & CEO
With the New Year comes excitement and new possibilities of moving forward and fulfilling our vision to build a network of services for residents, clients, employees and family members.
A major milestone in 2023 was receiving the Certificate of Need to provide hospice in Pierce County. This achievement allows us to expand services in the coming year not only to our residents at Wesley Bradley Park and Wesley at Tehaleh but throughout Pierce County.
We believe we will continue to see improvement in the staffing crises that has affected so many of us over the last two years. A more stable workforce positively affects the employee experience as well as the quality of care and services we deliver. We saw our turnover rate significantly improve and believe that this trend will continue in 2024.
Occupancies at all of our communities are strong. We anticipate being at full capacity across the continuum by the end of this year. Over the next 20 years, the number of people needing care and services will continue to grow at a rapid rate. Our mission and vision calls us to grow our services to meet this need.
The strong possibility of lower interest rates is promising news as we forecast upcoming development projects:
Our development team has been working diligently to complete plans and obtain permits from the City of Puyallup with the goal of starting construction on Phase II of the campus. This much anticipated second phase includes a second Brownstone and a new care and rehabilitation center. We hope to have pre-construction documents approved, financing secured, and necessary building plan revisions completed to begin construction later this year.
We are looking forward to opening during the first half of 2024 the remaining residences in The Gardens: Cottages, Center Point independent apartments, The Commons apartments with Catered Living services, the Albert W. Carr Memory Care Center, and the Des Moines Rehabilitation & Care Center. The new building is beautiful and will soon be accessible to residents on the north side by a skywalk from The Terrace. As we finish Phase III of the redevelopment at Des Moines, we are deep in the planning of our fourth and final phase. This phase will focus on upgrading The Terrace and renovating the current health center into office space.
This massive project in Fairwood was put on hold last year due to delayed permits, the escalating cost of construction, and high interest rates. As the economy stabilizes and interest rates come down, we hope to restart marketing and pre-development work on this new community toward the end of 2024.
Our Foundation continues its important work to support ongoing programs like Wesley U, Circle of Concern funding for residents in need, emergency and education grants for our staff, and capital campaigns for projects like Bradley Park Phase II and the skywalk connecting The Gardens and The Terrace at Wesley Des Moines.
These are not easy goals to accomplish. But with signs that the economy is improving, these projects become more realistic and achievable. 2024 offers many opportunities for Wesley, but we cannot do it alone! With your continued help and support, we can make a difference in the lives of all the people we serve. Working with you to accomplish our vision for the future of Wesley is the most exciting and rewarding opportunity for me! I wish you the very best in the coming year and look forward to our work together.