By Emily Kingston

After three years in the making, the Oasis at Dodge Park is ready to welcome those facing dementia or Alzheimer’s to a state-of-the art, $12 million facility that its co-owners believe is a home away from home for people with memory ailments.

Following a brief ribbon-cutting ceremony Monday, local official and legislators including State Sen. Harriette L. Chandler, D-Worcester, Mayor Joseph Petty and City Manager Edward M. Augustus Jr., toured the 50-bed rest home at 102 Randolph Road – the site of the former Odd Fellows Home building.

Co-owners Ben Herlinger and Micha Shalev said they shared the vision of creating a facility that would provide people with memory ailments a safe place to live with dignity in a warm, relaxing environment.

They called on architect Ruth Neeman, of Levi & Wong Design Associates of Concord, which specializes in designing such facilities to design a space that is friendly and supportive for elders. Ms. Neeman said every detail counts when dealing with the elderly population including such design decisions as color contrast that can make the difference between seeing where they are going and what they are doing, for the visually impaired.

“Every decision makes a difference between residents thriving and struggling,” Ms. Neeman said at the ceremony. “The goal was to make a building feel like home, residential and comforting.”

The 34,000-square-foot facility has two grand sitting areas that include a grand piano and electric fireplace, as well as two dining areas, a library, spa, hair salon and two outdoor courtyards with heated cement floors so the snow melts, that make it feel more like a luxury hotel than a medical facility. There are only a handful residents living there currently, but at full capacity, Mr. Herlinger said, the facility will have 62 full-time employees.

Mayor Petty said that although the city went back and forth for a few months with Mr. Herlinger and Mr. Shalev, it was “well worth it.” He added that the city would support them with any future expansion.

“We’ll be there for you,” he said.

This post was adapted from the Worcester Telegram article “Oasis at Dodge Park provides memory care in Worcester

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