The demand for residential treatment of people with traumatic brain injuries, cognitive disorders and chemical dependency is growing each year. Vinland National Center in Independence definitely has noticed.
Vinland has served residential clients for several decades. The nonprofit facility has become so cramped for space that it has had to expand from 18,000 to 37,000 square feet. Total cost of the expansion was over $4 million.
The center showed off its newly expanded facility at an open house Wednesday, Aug. 14. The expansion features the addition of 20 beds, bringing the bed total to 61. To accommodate these additional clients, Vinland and the city of Independence cooperated on an improvement that visitors cannot see — hooking up the center to metropolitan sanitary sewers. Previously, the center relied upon a septic system.
“We’re on a hill between two lakes (Lake Sarah and Lake Independence). It didn’t make sense for us to be on a septic system,” said Executive Director Mary Roehl, as she conducted a tour during the open house.
She showed off a new reception/lobby area, relocated and expanded physical fitness area, new dining room, new kitchen and added office space. The physical fitness area now occupies the former kitchen and dining area and has plenty of windows and mirrors to lighten the atmosphere. Clients can exercise while gazing at Lake Independence.
The tour took a close look at the new women’s rooms, which accommodate two people per room. Some rooms have hospital beds. Two rooms share a bathroom. Laundry facilities are on the same floor so that residents can do their own. Vinland supplies bed linens. A home-like touch is hand-made quilts donated by area churches. A client can take home his or her quilt after completing a Vinland stay.
Roehl said Vinland needed to make the most of the opportunity to expand. Originally, the center was planning a three-phase expansion. As planning progressed for phase one, Vinland decided that “this is it for a long while.” The addition freed up spaces in the older facility so that they could be put to new uses. For example, a bathroom took on a new life as office space.
Vinland Center started out in a small way in a house and six-car garage perched on a hill north of Lake Independence. The center was founded in 1976 as a Bicentennial gift to the United States from Norway. The center sits on 180 acres — 100 of which have been restored to prairie and wetlands.
Originally, Vinland served only people with physical disabilities. Since 1990, the center has provided specialized services for people with cognitive disabilities. According to Vinland, 71 percent of its clients are dealing with brain injuries, 52 percent with mental illness, 23 percent with learning disabilities and nine percent with developmental disabilities. Some clients also have physical disabilities, functional illiteracy and/ or hearing, visual and speech impairments.
As recently as 1990, approximately 100 clients came to Vinland for treatment, according to the center’s website. By 2010, Vinland was serving approximately 1,000 clients per year.
Roehl said a high percentage of their clients has tried other forms of treatment before coming to Vinland. She hoped that treatment at Vinland would be their last. “We work miracles everyday,” she said.
Vinland National Center has received a number of awards, most recently the 2013 National Council Award of Excellence for Behavioral Healthcare Management from the National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare.
“This is a great honor to be recognized for our practices and innovations in the treatment field by our peers,” Roehl said in April as she received the award in Las Vegas. “I am so privileged to work with such a dedicated and inspiring group of people, and I recognize that we received this award because of the work each of them does every day.”
Six months after graduating from the program, 92 percent of Vinland’s clients report abstinence or reduced use of addictive substances, the National Council said in a news release about the award. The program boasts a 93 percent reduction in incarcerations for clients post treatment, which results in an annual savings to society of more than $1.2 million.
Contact Susan Van Cleaf at [email protected]