A Look At Sylva’s Mountain Trace Nursing and Rehabilitation Center

(Editor’s Note: The following is the second article in an ongoing series of articles that look at where students can are volunteering their time.)

Mountain Trace Nursing and Rehabilitation Center is an inviting, 106-bed nursing facility that has provided rooms for long-term nursing care and rehabilitation care since the 1980’s.

Apart from its committed staff, the center has received great support from the community through volunteers that have devoted hours of their time to service the residents. Currently, 15 volunteers return to the center consistently each week. A volunteer will generally come in for an hour at a time once a week, and continue to visit weekly for a year.

“The center has had as many as 25 volunteers helping out from the community,” said Volunteer Services Director, Claudia King. “It’s good to see so many people who want to help out.”

Most volunteers spend one-on-one time with a resident and may read to them or talk about life as a means to keep them company. Volunteers may also contribute by passing out juice or ice to the residents while they are visiting.

Typically in the evenings, volunteers may conduct and help with different activities. The center allows up to seven activities per day, in which volunteers may lead and help with an arts and crafts session, watch movies, or use any special talent or skill to entertain the residents.

A number of the volunteers are among student organizations of Western Carolina University. Many students volunteer part time to visit with a resident on a regular basis. In some cases, a student organization may host an event for the residents.

The Service Learning Program participated in a Martin Luther King Jr. day event and its students held a trash pick up for the area, took over some of the housekeeping cleaning duties, and hosted bingo games.

There have also been a number of student volunteers from the Recreational Therapy program, as well as select fraternities and sororities from WCU. Western’s football and basketball teams have also volunteered by playing bingo with the residents on occasion.

The center is always looking for donations of costume jewelry and anything that could be used as a bingo prize.

The center was previously owned by the WestCare Health System but has recently sold their nursing home to a Florida company known as Millennium Management. So far, the staff has reported only good things about the new direction of the nursing center.

“I see a lot of positive changes,” said King referring to the recent improvements of the company.

New administrator, Jerry Horne, was recently hired as a means of improvement. Horne is from the Bryan’s Center and has so far made quite a good impression.

“We’re blessed to have him,” said King. “He’s a lot more involved.”

Over $75,000 has been spent on new equipment to help establish the new rehabilitation center, which will help to increase the company’s rehabilitation services. As a result, an additional 10 members of the staff were hired to help maintain the new program.

A new Speech Lab has also been developed as part of the rehabilitation center to assist therapists who work with the residents affected by stroke.

“We have done a lot of renovating and we have high hopes for our new program,” said rehabilitation director, Matthew Campbell.

All volunteers with the center are required to fill out a questionnaire and a confidentiality sheet. It was also recently required that volunteers must take a TB blood test as a safety precaution.

Anyone interested in volunteering should contact Volunteer Services Director Claudia King via phone at 828-631-1633 or by email at claudia_king@webmail.westcare.org