The West House started as a personal care home for people with HIV/AIDS, but has since grown to include those with other health care issues.
"We are hoping to fill that gap," said Kirsten Burkhart, West House administrator. "We take anyone who is qualified regardless of their ability to pay. We will give them the care they need."
Located at 616 Edwin St., the two-story home can accommodate up to 18 people.
Burkhart likes to think of the house, with its winding staircase and spacious downstairs living room area, as a family setting for its residents.
"Many of our residents don't have families. We have kind of become our own family," she said.
West House provides three meals a day for its residents, as well as housekeeping and laundry services. Residents are transported to doctor's appointments.
"We administer their medications," Burkhart said. "Some need more assistance than others."
Although there are no nurses in house, some staff are trained in CPR and first aid. At least one person is on duty at the home at all times.
People with any of a host of medical problems live at West House.
"We have had people with Alzheimer's, spina bifida. We can handle most anything," Burkhart said. "Some people are in generally good health but unable to manage their own health care or they forget to take medications. Some people are just here for a short time."
Presently, no persons with AIDS are living at the home, she noted.
While some residents eventually may need to be placed in nursing facilities, still others can look forward to returning home.
Residents, who range in age from 21 years and up, can take part in a range of in-house activities.
"It's a good place to be because I have no place to go," said Donna Achberger, 60, who suffers from asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). "I'm just glad to have a roof over my head. We get three meals a day."
Achberger, who carries around a mobile oxygen tank to enhance her breathing,
likes the fact that there are people to run errands for the residents.
Gary Burkhart, administrative assistant, said STEP Inc. provides transportation services for residents, most of whom do not drive.
Some of the residents, he said, enjoy visiting senior citizen centers.
Kirsten Burkhart said keeping the personal care home operating is forever a challenge, especially from a financial standpoint.
"It's a lot of begging, grant writing, fundraising. We are usually filled with residents. We often have a waiting list," she said.
Ideally, she would like to have additional space.
Her mission, she said, is to care for anyone who needs it, especially those who can't pay for any other long-term care facility.
"We are always looking for volunteers," she said. "We would especially like to have people who do activities with the residents."
Antionette Morrison, 59, is a resident with no complaints about West House.
"They treat you well," she said. "The staff is good. You get good food here."
West House came about when an HIV-positive client from AIDS Resource was unable to stay in a personal care home. AIDS Resource stepped in and won a court case to have the man admitted, although he later died, Burkhart noted.
"We bought that personal care home and named it after the man who couldn't stay there," she said.
Now, West House is a home for many people faced with medical issues who might otherwise have nowhere to go.