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AUGUST 4, 1997


country Clockwise (begin top left): Jeanne Allen, Robyn Stricker, Nathan Limprecht. Students donated their time to paint a mural in the foyer of Children's Country Home. The tree will feature leaves inscribed with donors' names.

Mina Hochberg/staff photo

Children's Country Home to open soon

  by Mina Hochberg
   The pastel tiles are down, the flowered wallpaper is up, and visitors can see the touch of home quality care Children's Country Home will soon provide for children with intensive medical needs. Plans to open Children's Country Home in the 3,400 square foot Hollywood Hill rambler began last July. It is set to open in approximately one month.
   One of the reasons it has taken a year to open is it has relied so heavily on community donations, explained Janice Perey, community liaison. Donations have ranged from electrical services to window panes to furniture. "I'm pretty proud we were able to make it happen so quickly," she said.
   Children's Country Home will provide short- and long-term care in a home environment for children with chronic illnesses. Homes dedicated solely to this kind of care are found in three other Washington cities and house a total of fifteen beds. Children's Country Home will be the only one located between Tacoma and Bellingham.
   Mary Shemesh, founder of Children's Country Home, estimated that 2,200 children in Washington are developmentally disabled and would benefit from these special care homes. Children with chronic illnesses in need of respite care are often placed in nursing homes, according to Perey.
   "It breaks your heart to go to a nursing home and see a young person where the average age is 74," she said.
   Perey and Shemesh hope to eventually start a scholarship fund for those families who cannot afford the costs, or whose insurance does not cover this kind of respite care.
   The home will be licensed as a single-family residence and will be able to house up to ten people. Acute Care, Inc. in Woodinville will provide nurses to staff it 24 hours a day.
   Several members in the home's Hollywood Hill neighborhood are concerned about the opening of a medical care home in a residential neighborhood.
   "I think it's a wonderful alternative for families.... We all feel that way," said Pat Molander, a neighbor. "Our concern is does it belong in a residential area."
   Lisa Albright, another neighbor, said a medical care home should be in an area with easier emergency vehicle access, given the area's susceptibility to power outages and isolation during snow storms. Molander pointed out that hills in the neighborhood can get very icy, leaving residents stranded in their homes during winter storms.
   The house's power will be backed by a generator. Shemesh said nursing staff will be advised to use chains and four wheel drive vehicles, and will have access to emergency vehicles built for driving in adverse weather conditions.
   Neighbors are also concerned about the "environment" of the neighborhood. "I am sad to see this little neighborhood... have a business start up in it," said neighbor George Koenig.
   However, some members of other neighborhoods believe bringing this type of business into a residential area would not render a negative effect. "It is a business, but it's a business of people living in a house," said a Woodinville homeowner's association secretary who wished to remain anonymous.
   Neighbors said they will wait and see what happens in the next few months. "It's hard to prejudge," Molander said.
   Children's Country Home still needs donations of furniture, appliances, a septic tank and various other items. To make a donation, contact Mary Shemesh at 483-3303.