Northwest NEWS

November 1, 1999


Home is where the hearth is

Golden Hearth

Golden Hearth residents Phyllis Gerttula (spider), Sue Gallagher (witch), Lucina Beckman (clown), Doris Schwagerman (Hawaiian tourist), Eileen Vogue (cat), and Jeannette Rafalowski (gypsy) dressed up in costumes to get into the Halloween spirit, proving you're only as old as you act. The women range in age from 82 to 94 years old.
Photo by Deborah Stone.

by Deborah Stone, features writer

   At Golden Hearth, an adult family home located in Woodinville, six elderly women live under the loving care of owner Priscilla Kenney.

   Kenney, an R.N. with over twenty years of nursing experience, nine of those as a visiting nurse to nursing homes and other private facilities, opened Golden Hearth three years ago. She was motivated to operate a home for seniors with serious medical complications, which render them unable to care for themselves.

   "After visiting many places and seeing how bad it really is out there for the elderly with these problems, I wanted to have a place where I could give six people a better quality of life in the remaining years of their lives," explains Kenney. "It was so sad for me to visit these people in places where the care was so poor, there was no stimulation and no one really cared about them. They would get totally depressed and lose their will to live. My desire was to give them back their self-esteem, their dignity, and make them feel special."

   Kenney bought the over-six-thousand square-foot house from the previous owner, a woman for whom she had been caring for regularly. The women was very ill and on many medications. She had not left the house in a long time and her prognosis was very poor. After Kenney worked with her, over time she grew less dependent on her medications over time and went into remission.

   "She got to the point where she could leave the house, and then eventually when I bought the house from her, she got in her car and drove away with her daughter," says Kenney. "She was a woman with a totally new lease on life and hope in her heart."

   Golden Hearth is a tastefully decorated and immaculate home in a peaceful wooded setting. There are six bedrooms, three baths, a large kitchen and eating area, a separate dining room, living room, family room, and an indoor hot tub. Each room is monitored for safety and is fully accessible for wheelchairs. The environment is warm and cheerful with the feeling of a home.

   Kenney has an open door policy with families and encourages them to visit their family members anytime. The residents are kept active and are included in everything that goes on at Golden Hearth. There are crafts, games, musical exercise, cultural arts, field trips, and pampering days.

   "Every other week, I have a massage therapist and a manicurist come to the house, and then once a month, a hairdresser comes to cut and style the ladies' hair," explains Kenney. "They love it! It makes them feel so good. It makes sense that when people look good, they'll feel much better about themselves." A librarian also visits once a month to bring new books, book tapes, and videos.

   Once a year, Kenney and her staff take all six residents on a cruise down to the Caribbean Islands.

   "That is definitely a high point for most of them, and although it's enormous work for my employees and me, it's so worth it," comments Kenney. "We have photos and videos from our past cruises and the looks on these women's faces are priceless memories."

   All of these amenities and personalized services do not come cheap at the Golden Hearth. Costs range from $3,800 to $4,800 per month per resident, depending on the level of care required (this cost is comprehensive, but doesn't include the cruise).

   Kenney remarks on the changes that she has seen in the residents after they've been at Golden Hearth for just a short while. She says, "It's overwhelming. They're more animated and they want to participate in everything. Their sense of humor returns and the desire to be a part of the living comes back to them. It is so rewarding for me to see these changes after I've heard from their families how despondent they were in previous facilities. And it's great to see the families relax and feel less stressed about their loved ones."

   For more information about Golden Hearth, call 425-483-CARE.