The NHC patient center on Hwy. 170 (Okatie Highway, near Sun City) that opened in 2010 as a skilled nursing facility is adding to its services with assisted living apartments and expanded memory care.

The new facility – Palmettos Assisted Living – is currently under construction and is expected to open late this summer or early fall.

“This is for someone who doesn’t want the burden of keeping up the house anymore or preparing meals,” said Palmettos new executive director Stacy Floyd. “You can be as independent as you want to be, still drive your own car, but you don’t have to deal with home maintenance, cook or clean. But if you need additional services such as bathing, medication management or getting dressed, you can get the assistance.”

NHC now has 120 beds, with 40 of them in a memory care section and 40 others set aside for patients undergoing rehabilitation. When it opened as a skilled nursing facility, it handled short- and long-term rehabilitation, memory care and long-term nursing care for those who did not need rehabilitation but did need more than assisted living provided alone offered.

“We offered strictly skilled nursing – the highest level of care without being in a hospital,” said Floyd, who previously served NHC as its memory care coordinator.

With the new facility, “What we’re offering on campus is a continuum of care,” said Floyd. “We specialize in assisting families with transitioning to a lifestyle that reduces life’s daily responsibilities that can sometimes become a burden to seniors in later years.”

The new building will have 75 rooms for residents in studio and one-bedroom apartments. Of those, 20 are in a secure memory care section for residents with dementia, and will include programs, activities and trained staff.

The cost for residents will depend upon the level of care needed and the size of the apartment that individuals or couples choose.

Amenities are numerous. Plans for the Palmettos include a putting green in the courtyard, fitness center, library, courtyard and outdoor spaces, a card room, restaurant-style dining, live entertainment, activities, salon services, wine and cheese, socials and parties.

The residence will also be pet-friendly.

“I want families to feel a sense of release and peace when they choose The Palmettos. We are creating an environment that provides friendship, activities and good ol’ fun,” said Anna Makar, director of marketing. “What you want for your mother is to thrive. What we’re hoping their families will see is that when they move in, their loved ones come to life making friends and having a lot of fun.”

Housekeeping, meals, snacks, activities, transportation to doctors and shopping are included in the basic rates, as are phone, cable, WiFi, a kitchenette with refrigerator and microwave and fully accessible, individual bathrooms.

“We have nurses and trained, qualified personnel on staff providing more than what we are required to provide, in essence because we want to do it right,” said Makar, who previously served as admissions coordinator for NHC. “We really want people to know the goal is peace of mind for the families. Their loved one is there 365 days a year, seven days a week. We’re a community that is going to be there for your loved ones.”

NHC is not yet ready to accept residents for The Palmettos, said Floyd. But, “we’ve gotten a lot of interest from people who have been at NHC and been watching the developments,” she said.

Information about The Palmettos, which is at 3035 Okatie Hwy., can be found at www.thepalmettosbluffton.com.

Gwyneth J. Saunders is a veteran journalist and freelance writer living in Bluffton.