KULPMONT — Roosevelt Court represents not only the preservation of a local landmark, but a shining community asset that serves young and old and employs local residents.
Formerly Roosevelt High School and later Kulpmont Elementary, the building on Spruce Street is home to Northumberland County Housing Authority’s Roosevelt Court affordable housing, LIFE Geisinger’s adult day care services and the Luzerne County Community College (LCCC) nursing program.
The housing authority purchased the building from Mount Carmel Area School District in 2001 with the help of $1 million in state grants secured by former state Rep. Robert E. Belfanti.
The first apartments, which offer an independent living environment for eligible elderly residents, opened in September 2001 and are located on the first and second floors of the building, while LCCC’s nursing program, also operating since 2001, is housed in the west wing of the second floor.“It’s just been an excellent addition to the community,” said authority Executive Director Ed Christiano. “It was done in steps. Belfanti was instrumental in securing LCCC, which lead to the affordable housing units there, which lead to LIFE Geisinger coming in and utilizing the whole building.”
Nicole Edmondson, director of LCCC’s Northumberland Regional Center, said the two-year RN program offered at Roosevelt Court, celebrating its 15th year, has graduated 130 students. The first class had 12, but the program has grown to an average of 35 today.
The building is also home to a biology laboratory used by the nursing students and by some transfer students who require a science class with a lab for their majors.
Edmondson said the program is extremely competitive.
“We only have so many seats, and there are quite a few students that are trying to get into those seats,” she said.
The program has been successful, with a pass rate of more than 90 percent for LCCC students who take their national licensing exam for the first time.
Edmondson said the school being located in Kulpmont is beneficial because it provides the opportunity for local students to get an affordable advanced degree in nursing, and being a two-year school, allows them to get into the workforce in half the time then if they pursued a bachelor’s of science in nursing.
Students also take part in community service projects, including blood drives, Relay for Life, the YMCA fair in Sunbury, a bike safety program, food drives, diaper drives and fundraisers for community agencies.
Most graduates choose to stay local, which Edmondson said is a unique attribute of community colleges.
“When you look at a four-year school, students are coming from all over and they get their degree and go back to whatever community they came from,” she said. “If you’re at a community college, they’re students from within the community, so they’re invested in staying here.”
The number one employer for the LCCC RN graduates is Geisinger, but graduates are also working at Sunbury Community Hospital as well as local clinics and long-term care facilities.
Edmondson, now in her fourth year at LCCC, noted she was a student when the building was Kulpmont Elementary.
“The nursing lab, where it is now, was my sixth-grade classroom,” she said. “It’s pretty cool to see how it’s changed.”
Christiano said Roosevelt Court provides market-rate affordable housing for the elderly and handicapped. The building holds 22 apartments, including 20 single bedrooms and two two-bedroom units. Rent includes electric, water/sewer, heat and trash.
All 22 apartments are occupied and there is a two-year waiting list, he said.
There is a community room with a big-screen television as well as laundry facilities, parking and large sitting areas outside.
Since LIFE Geisinger came to the building in 2008, Christiano said some residents have taken advantage of it being on-site. They, like other LIFE Geisinger enrollees, use the program to maintain independent living and avoid going to a nursing home.
The Living Independently For Elders, or LIFE Geisinger program, allows seniors to continue living in their homes while receiving the health care services they need through weekday visits to the LIFE facilities.
The program serves residents of Columbia, Montour, Northumberland and Schuylkill counties and provides them with medical care, nursing, chaplain services, medication management, social services, recreational, physical, occupational and speech therapy, nutritional counseling and more.
Wendy Rishel, outreach and enrollment coordinator, said it’s similar to adult day care, but so much more.
“We have a medical clinic here with a doctor and nursing staff who manage all their primary medical needs,” she said. “Then we have the senior center component where they get their socialization.”
LIFE Geisinger offers door-to-door service to those who require transportation. Personal care aides are also available to help with bathing and getting dressed if needed.
Ellen Popson, LPN, intake coordinator, said an enrollee gains insurance and a physician as well as all-inclusive care under the Programs of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) model.
“We will take care of things at home, help you get ready in the morning for the van, deliver you here to the site, and every person has a personalized plan of care,” she said. “Be it physical therapy, occupational therapy, if there’s a need for speech, diabetic shoes, whatever their need is, physician-driven, will come encompassed under the model of care.”
There are 100 people currently enrolled, with about 66 attending on a daily basis. Daily attendance is not required.
Enrollees must be 55 years or older and have nursing facility clinical eligibility.
Rishel said the program being at Roosevelt Court is a great contributor to the community.
“It’s an employer for the area, plus the seniors themselves – it gives them the opportunity to stay in the homes that some of them were born and raised in, in their original homestead,” Rishel said. “It keeps them in the community where they want to be.”