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Posted: November 12, 2008 5:00 a.m.

Merryvale provides senior care, community connections

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Photo by Mandi Singer/

On Nov. 1, 1996 Merryvale Assisted Living Facility opened its doors to local senior residents. Merryvale’s story began when Sam III and Loucy Hay envisioned a top-notch senior care facility serving area families right in the heart of Newton County.

Merryvale Executive Director Gena McClendon was brought on board during the concept phase of the center and has been devoted ever since.

"Oftentimes I get calls from the adult children or even the seniors and I am trying to educate them on the difference between independent living and assisted care," McClendon said.

She explained how a person who needs help with daily activities will be no better off in an independent living facility. At Merryvale a wealth of services ensure that seniors continue to have a high quality of life even if they can no longer prepare meals for themselves or do their own laundry.

While residents are provided three meals a day, laundry and housekeeping services and medication oversight, they are not bound to the facility completely.

"They can bring in their own furniture and have their own cars," McClendon said. "They do have the freedom to come and go as they please."

McClendon said Merryvale also provides a plethora of activities for residents from morning devotionals to game nights to shopping trips.

Merryvale does have 24-hour staffing and checks on each resident every two or three hours, however the facility differs from a nursing home in that it does not employ a medical director.

McClendon said Merryvale differs from other assisted living facilities in its community partnerships with the library, Newton County School System and chamber of commerce and also because they have very low employee turnover and, therefore, continuity of care.

"Customer service is huge for us," McClendon said. "We really go the extra 10 miles."

Throughout the years family members have phoned or written letters to McClendon to tell her how much they appreciated the professionalism and courtesy of her staff.

"The people that we care for have enriched our lives so much," McClendon said, "and we try to make their journey as pleasant as we can."

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