5336 North Western Ave. - Chicago, IL 60625
Phone: (773) 271-5600 - Fax: (773) 907-0759

Continental Makes the Honor Roll!

Congratulations! Continental Nursing & Rehabilitation Center, among others in Illinois, achieved the composite score goal of six or less for at least one quarter, aligning its performance with the top 10% of nursing homes nationally.

The dedicated staff at Continental are delighted to receive this recognition for the quality care they’ve been delivering to patients for more than 40 years.

Memory Springs Dementia Care Debuts

Dementia-only care centers are springing up all over Chicagoland, but Memory Springs offers a unique and separate program within an existing skilled nursing and rehabilitation center.
Launching officially Oct. 4 in a building that has been serving its neighborhood since 1976, Continental Nursing & Rehabilitation Center, 5336 N. Western Ave., will be providing gender-based care by separating its secured dementia floor in half – one side for women and the other for men.
“We’re excited to provide this unique approach,” memory care director Stephanie Haggard said. “We will open the program with women residents only and then expand eventually into accepting men. Each side of our dementia floor will have its own activity room and dining room.”
Haggard added that the dementia program will take a non-traditional approach – meaning it will be more homelike than like a nursing home. All staff will be specifically trained in dementia care and will be permanently assigned to the floor for consistency in care.
In total, the memory care floor will have 50 beds and serve residents with Alzheimer’s and other dementias. A pre-admissions assessment determines whether an individual’s needs fit the program, and an interdisciplinary team will be working closely with both the family and residents. Caregivers will be specially trained in ways to interact with residents meaningfully by getting to know each person and their daily preferences personally.
Haggard, a former nursing home activity director, noted that activities will be geared to each resident’s level of functioning.
“Appropriate activities are vital to engaging residents and helping them relate to the world around them as much as possible,” Haggard said. “We will also be encouraging families to join their loved one by participating in activities together.”
Music programs will be an important part of regular activities. Studies have shown that music elevates mood and improves cognition. Cueing and hand-overhand assistance will also be provided by staff to help residents who may need that extra support.
Additionally, there will be on-site psychiatric and psychological services along with ongoing dementia and behavioral education – especially important for family members struggling with acceptance of the disease process in their loved ones.
“By offering a separate program within the confines of an existing nursing home like Continental, which even has an onsite dialysis unit, we can accept residents who may also have complex skilled nursing needs or require physical, occupational or even speech therapy,” Haggard said. “We believe we have it all here under one roof and are excited to offer Memory Springs as another important component of our resident-centered care.”

Keeping the ‘home’ in nursing home

Patty Schultz

For the past 43 years, Patty Schultz, 80, has called Continental Nursing & Rehabilitation Center, 5336 N. Western Ave., home. She is the resident who’s lived there the longest. According to senior staff members, she was admitted as either patient No. 2 or patient No. 3 in August 1976, moving in even before the building was completely finished.

Schultz grew up in a bustling family of eight children in Chicago’s Bridgeport neighborhood. Because of a serious neurological disorder that has now impacted her ability to speak, she was protected and cared for by her mother and later other family members until it was no longer feasible.

“My sister was named Patricia because she was born on St. Patrick’s Day,” her brother, John, recalled. “She’s always loved that holiday – all holidays for that matter. She has an easy-going personality, loves to laugh and go to parties.”

Sabrina Robinson, Continental’s activity director, confirms that Patty is quite the party-goer.

“No matter what we’re doing – she’s right there in the thick of it,” Robinson said. “She enjoys everything from finger painting – especially with green paint because of her connection to St. Paddy’s Day – playing catch with stress balls or wearing silly headpieces along with everyone else – she knows how to have fun.”

Robinson, a former special education teacher, has found her niche designing activities for all levels of functioning among Continental’s residents.

“FaceTime with families and friends who live far away or simply cannot visit is a very popular activity for them all,” she said. “Whether it’s Patty’s family or the families of other residents, we have done FaceTime with people as far away as Europe, Japan and even the Philippines. It’s a great way to keep their connections strong.” When Schultz was younger, a bus picked her up from Continental and transported her to and from the nearby Anixter Center where individuals with special needs can gain life skills, stay active and earn a modest income. She worked there for eight years with Continental’s dietary staff packing her a brown-bag lunch each day so she could enjoy her noon break with friends.

Today, keeping life consistent for Schultz is a shared staff goal. She even has had the same physician caring for her since her original 1976 admission date despite his now being semi-retired.

“We truly provide person-centered care here,” Robinson observed. “Whether it’s Patty or others – we care about them like we would our own family. Seeing them happy, involved and content is so gratifying, not just to me, but to everyone who works here. Patty brings us all a lot of joy.”

Veterans recall how military service shaped their lives

Senior Living Magazine

Marine Lance Corporal Charles Pierce very well remembers coming home from Vietnam back in the early 1970s – maybe because so many of his friends did not. His work as a field radio operator took him all over that country during a war where “everything was a front line,” he vividly recalls. Pierce, now a full-time resident at Continental Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, 5336 N. Western Ave., noted that his re-entry into civilian life after being in the Marines from 1967 through 1971 was tough. In “Nam,” he said, marijuana and opioids were in plentiful use among the military. And yes, he took part freely.
For the first three years following his honorable discharge, he just “bummed around” Chicago trying to get his bearings while witnessing his brother, also a Vietnam vet, suffer with PTSD.
Finally, in 1974 Pierce - with constant urging from his mother - decided he’d better get a job. After some introspection, he realized that being a marine taught him one very critical thing about himself … an insight that would propel him into a successful work life.
“I learned that I really like working outside, no matter what the weather,” he said. Soon he was busy refueling jet planes at a Chicago airport and would do so for the next 27 years.
Pierce was awarded the National Defense Service Medal and was discharged at a rank of Private, but it came with a steep price: exposure to Agent Orange.

Charles Johns, from Chicago’s far South Side, enlisted in the Navy serving as a seaman from 1968-1970 aboard the USS Marias. “This was something I always wanted to do,” Johns said. “It gave me a chance to see the world and how other people lived – an opportunity that I wouldn’t have otherwise had.” He still remembers well his exciting Ports of Call such as France, Italy, Charles PierceGreece, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Portugal, Haiti, and Cuba. And where did he like the best? “I really liked Italy, the gorgeous scenery and the friendliness of the people – it’s something I’ll always remember,” he said. His jobs aboard ship included everything from swabbing the decks (yes, they really do use that term!) and handling equipment to refueling other ships and working as a gunner’s mate although he’s quick to admit they never fired a shot.
But most of all, his worldwide explorations taught him one very valuable lesson. “It made me really appreciate all that we have here in the States,” Johns said. “And, I was honored to have served my country – it was a very positive experience for me.”
After his honorable discharge, Johns barbered (still does) and worked for the US Postal Service as a mailman for 17 years in a neighborhood close to Continental. He now has a niece following in his footsteps serving in the US Navy.

Although Larry Harris is a man of few words, he recalls proudly his two-year stint with the Army from 1972-1974 when he was drafted. He was stationed in Germany working the mess hall doing whatever he was told to do – even cook.
“It gave me my career,” Harris said. “After my discharge, I worked here in Chicago as a chef and a baker – it served me well.” So, to Corporal Pierce, Seaman Johns, and Specialist Harris – we salute -- and thank you.


Continental staff recently hosted a continuing education program for area healthcare professionals entitled, “Ethics: Am I Really Responsible?” presented by Deborah Byrd Goodwill. Deborah is a well-known continuing education provider throughout the State of Illinois with a varied list of almost two dozen timely topics. More than 60 healthcare professionals attended the evening event which included live music, networking, food and beverages. Guests were given tours and left with not only gift bags, but their CEU certificates conveniently in hand.

Dialysis Care at Continental Nursing and Rehabilitation

Senior Living - December 7th, 2016

The statistics are sobering - kidney disease is on the rise in the United States today. One in 10 American adults (more than 20 million people) now have some level of chronic kidney disease. End-stage renal disease is especially hard-hitting among African Americans at a rate that is three times higher than for Caucasians.


Know Your Healthcare Options BEFORE You Need Them!

At Continental Nursing & Rehabilitation Center, we realize that not everyone subscribes to the Boy Scout motto: Be Prepared. However, it's darn good advice for anyone - Scout or not.
Consider the unexpected illness or a scheduled surgery for a hip or knee replacement - definitely not high on anyone's priority list, if given the choice. Would you know what to do or where to go when these care decisions arise?
The fact is, no one's immune to life's downturns. A little prevention, along with some preplanning, "does a body good" when health takes a hit.
Here's how to be in the driver's seat instead of under the bus:

Defining post-acute care and respite stays

Are you familiar with the term "post-acute care?" After getting discharged from the hospital for an illness or surgery, patients sometimes need to go to a facility for ongoing medical care or rehabilitation. This portion of your recovery is referred to as "post-acute care."
Physical, occupational and speech therapies can do wonders for rehabbing a patient back to optimal functioning again so they can return home and pick up right where they left off. Post-acute care may also include intravenous antibiotics, dialysis, pain management, respiratory therapy or nutritional services.
And, if you live alone and are apprehensive about meeting your daily needs during recuperation, you can go to a post-acute care facility for respite care. There, you will receive the assistance you need for ongoing recovery while staying in your own room for five days to five weeks, or more. It's up to you. Most post-acute care facilities offer respite care. Ask if they do, and if so, find out what their length-of-stay or minimum/maximum stays might be, along with daily or weekly rates.

Tour a facility ahead of time

Did you know that you can tour post-acute facilities (once called nursing homes) just by calling and making an appointment? A designated staff member will escort you around the building, explain services, and even show you an empty guest room. You are welcome to ask questions and even watch rehabilitation therapy sessions in progress.
Taking a tour ahead of time demystifies post-acute care and provides you with the reassurance you might need.
You'll also want to screen post-acute facilities for the types of insurance plans accepted to make certain you're in network ahead of time.
Whether you're exploring care options for yourself or a loved one, facilities are accustomed to clients calling and asking for tours. So, take advantage of this opportunity to learn more before making such an important decision that will greatly impact ongoing recovery.

On the Job 40 Years and Still Loving It

Not many people can lay claim to holding one job their entire career and still be at it 40 years later. Well, meet Bob Hanke, 58, maintenance director at Continental Nursing & Rehabilitation, 5336 N. Western Ave. In 1976, he applied as an eager 18 year-old shortly after construction ended, and well before its doors opened for business.
Recently, Continental Nursing & Rehabilitation staff held a recognition celebration for Bob Hanke's 40 years of dedicated service presenting him with an engraved crystal plaque, buffet luncheon, decorated cake, and assorted gifts.
How it all started ...
"I walked in the front door and sitting at the reception area, unbeknownst to me, was the building's owner. He asked me what I wanted and I said - 'a job!' " recalled Hanke. "He put me to work sweeping and cleaning at $2.35 an hour. The construction crews had just completed work on the building leaving behind the usual dust and debris. It was my job to start making the place presentable."
As one of six children raised only a few blocks away, Hanke knew that he was not interested in attending college as some of his siblings were. Instead, he watched the construction of this new building in the neighborhood, and figured there might be work there as it neared completion. It was also an easy walk from his home - the same home he still resides in today.
Soon he was assembling beds and un-crating furniture, as little by little this small neighborhood nursing home began to take shape.
Forty years later, he is considered indispensable continually coming to the rescue solving maintenance issues of this 181-bed facility anytime day or night. And, if you consider that the facility sees about 150 admissions annually, his dedication has helped 6,000 patients over the course of four decades.
"It's so true," agreed Erin Johnson, one of the staff CNAs. "Whenever we don't know what to do about anything in the building, everyone always just says, "Call Bob," and he's here in a heartbeat."
Over the decades, Hanke's job also became his source of friends and family -- he even met his wife there -- formerly a nurse on staff. Later they parented three children while remaining in the neighborhood.
Along the way, Hanke observed many changes in the healthcare industry.
"Nursing homes, years ago, were considered the last resort - a place someone went to die," he said. "Then in the 1990s that view changed drastically as reimbursement methods changed and nursing homes were financially rewarded for helping a patient get better and go home - not just warehousing them."
Now, Continental offers a full range of services from in-house dialysis and advanced physical therapy to comprehensive wound care.
"The dialysis program here never would have gotten off the ground without the expertise of Bob," noted Scott Vavrinchik, one of the guests at the party and Executive Director of Affiliated Dialysis Centers based in Glen Ellyn. "There were many construction challenges retrofitting an older building like this with the appropriate plumbing to make dialysis care viable. But, Bob pulled it all together and we are proud to service patients here with state-of-the-art care."
Recently Hanke said his grown children asked him, "Dad, how do you stay at a job for 40 years?"
Hanke's reply came easily as he recounted the conversation. "you've got to like what you're doing. I like helping people - talking to our patients and residents. Sometimes just listening is all someone needs. you don't come here to get rich, you come here to help others."
Continental's administrator, Jonathan Dixon, enjoys working with Bob and believes he sets a good example. "Bob wears a lot of hats in this building," Dixon said. "Whether he's running an errand to the Dollar Store for a patient, shoveling snow, or stopping to chat with someone feeling down, Bob's definitely the right man for the job." of his and finally found a niece who agreed to act as his healthcare surrogate. In his case, there were a lot of dots to connect.”