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Heritage Springs opens dementia care facility in Montoursville

Citing a need for a specialized care home in the Williamsport area for people living with Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia, President and CEO of Heritage Springs Memory Care Colleen Fritz opened a second location at 878 Old Cement Road in Montoursville this past August.

Fritz, whose extensive background in nursing began at just 18 years old as a nursing assistant at Maria Joseph Manor in Danville, opened her first specialized facility in Lewisburg five years ago.

“People from up here were coming down there and saying there is nothing like this in Williamsport, there’s nothing like this in our area, Lock Haven, State College. So we decided to start looking up in this area for land,” said Fritz.

Fritz’s first experience with assisted living was in 1998 when she was working in administration.

“I thought this was a great concept because it always bothered me that it was more like a clinical setting that people went into,” she said.

As a two-time cancer survivor, Fritz realized there was something more for her to do. “It hit me — this is my passion, this is what I’m passionate about and this is what’s needed — I am going to do this,” said Fritz.

The Montoursville facility is divided into two “neighborhoods” that are mirror images of each other, with 30 beds each. This design is strategic, giving a smaller community feel that puts the residents at ease. Every detail at the facility is designed with the memory-impaired resident in mind, from the double locked doors to the calming colors to the gated courtyard designed for circular wandering. In addition to a main dining area, a smaller, private dining room is also available for residents who may be overstimulated so they can focus on their meal. The activities are designed to engage people with dementia.

All staff complete 10 hours of training specifically geared towards people with dementia prior to starting work at the community and complete six to 10 additional hours of training a year. Fritz says the training leads to more meaningful interaction with residents. She stresses how important it is to make sure your loved one with dementia is in the right place for the care they need.

“Transitions are not good for people with dementia. Every time somebody with dementia makes a transition to a new facility it decreases their level of function,” said Fritz.

A specialized care home like Heritage Springs allows residents to age in place with supportive services. “As long as we can take care of their needs, there is no need for a higher level of care,” said Fritz. Physician support is provided by local Family Practice offices and a geriatric psychiatrist offers services for residents as well as training for staff. The facility also contracts to provide physical therapy, lab work, x-rays and ultrasounds.

Residents’ rooms, which are also available for couples so that they can stay together, are appointed with double beds, furniture with handles designed for ease of use and shower heads that allow for quick yet thorough bathing. Shadow boxes outside the rooms can be filled with pictures, knick knacks and mementos and also serve as a point of discussion for staff that may spark a memory for the residents.

Fritz credits the nuns at Maria Joseph Manor with instilling a love of nursing in her.

“They taught me the right way to make a bed, the right way to do care and how to be really, really compassionate,” said Fritz. Compassion is something she requires of all of her employees. “If you don’t have compassion you shouldn’t be in this line of work,” she said.

Heritage Springs Memory Care in Montoursville is currently accepting new residents. Residents are admitted one to two at a time so as not to throw off the routines of other residents and so residents and staff can get to know each other. Executive director of the Montoursville location, Marsha Deitrick, can be reached at 570-935-0936. More information about Heritage Springs Memory Care can be found at

heritagespringspa.com.

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