The North Bend Eagle



Birchwood Manor
Birchwood Manor was in the process of being torn down this past week. The 55-year old building was in transition when the spring flood changed everything.

Birchwood demolition an emotional time

by Mary Le Arneal
Published 1/15/20

The community of North Bend saw a need for a place for their older residents to live. In April 1964 articles of incorporation for the North Bend Senior Citizens Home, Inc., were drawn up. On April 25, 1965, the facility was dedicated. On April 27, the first three residents moved in. In 2002 the facility was sold to private ownership, the last owner being Pamela Quinn.

Now it is gone, the victim of the flood and wrecking ball. But there are still memories and emotions left.
Cheryl Thege started working at Birchwood Manor after graduating from North Bend Central in 1979. She was a certified nursing assistant, the last nine years serving as a restorative aide, helping people with their therapy. She expressed feelings of anger and sadness with the closing of Birchwood.

Thege not only working there almost 40 years, but her parents, sister and brother have all worked there and her parents were patients there. She was working March 15 of last year when the flood forced an evacuation. She stayed with patients in Snyder until they were able to move back to North Bend on March 17.

“We didn’t know what to expect with the flood,” Thege said. “It was devastating, scary. We thought we were going to re-open.”

At the time of the flood, Birchwood had 46 residents living at the long-term care facility.
Though the patients had to leave again, Thege and other staff members stayed on, hostung the annual Easter egg hunt, putting a float in the Old Settlers parade, cleaning and painting the facility.

Administrator Kelley Seitz led the staff and residents through the most challenging experience in the history of Birchwood Manor during and after the flood and evacuation, owner Quinn said. Seitz planned to assume ownership and operations of BWM as early as April 2019.

“He did so with the best interest of the residents at the forefront of all decisions,” Quinn said. “The staff were committed to fulfilling their role in care even as their homes were destroyed and families disrupted. This leadership reflected the future of Birchwood Manor.”

Quinn felt disappointment upon seeing a photo of the Bichwood building in its current state of rubble.

“This image of crumbled brick reflects the unnecessary destruction of a legacy by bureaucratic roadblocks and disregard for the residents and families of this small rural facility,” she said.

Thege also thought of the residents.

“There are a lot of nursing homes closing,” she said. “Who is taking care of these people? In the future families will have to take care of their loved ones.”

In Thege’s own family, her mother Marlene was a patient at BWM and has moved to another facility 35 miles further from family.

Thege is now working at another nursing home, but she misses her Birchwood family.

“I said Birchwood was my home away from home,” she said. “I always said I’d probably retire right into a bed.”

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