SunPorch of Smith County Open House

Tammy Pettijohn, Administrator speaking on Behalf of SunPorch

SunPorch of Smith County held a Ribbon Cutting for their 7.3-million-dollar campus.  Funded by a USDA Rural Development Loan with a total of 6 million dollars and 1.3 million locally funded through donations.  Brand new campus for the elderly.

Smith County has a lot to celebrate when it comes to caring for the community’s elders.  After a successful capital campaign raising over $2m., the Smith County Memorial Hospital (SCMH) was built and opened on August, 2018, state-of-the-art facility.  The medical community in the region is renowned regionally.

You may have heard, though, that the new hospital did not include space for the Long-Term Care Unit meaning that 20+ residents and 46 full and part time employees would not have homes unless other arrangements were made.  The costs and regulations simply did not make including senior care in the new hospital feasible.  Yet, as demonstrated in a series of planning meetings, the community remained committed to serving the region’s elders.  Preserving the homes – and jobs – of the current home became an important community goal.  In response, SCMH’s board and administration invited SunPorch to the community to explore options.

“After many community meetings and in-depth studies, it became apparent that the new hospital could not be able to accommodate the currently operating Long-Term Care Unit,” explained SCMH CEO Allen VanDriel.  “We were so lucky to find SunPorch willing to develop a facility to serve the current residents as well as others in the future. Their philosophy is very compatible with our mission of service.”

SunPorch of Smith Center is part of a nonprofit serving rural communities in the development and operation of senior living campuses in the Green House Model. ( )  According to John Grace, Executive Director, “We are happy to be in the Smith County area serving elders.  Of course, caring for the current residents and providing a smooth a transition to a new Green House home is important, but we are also committed to keeping these health care jobs in Smith County.”

Besides meeting this current need, SunPorch of Smith Center will provide a new type of service to elders.  Believe it or not, some things are better today than they were in the “good old days.”  One of those things happens to be standards for caring for older adults.  “Nursing homes” just simply aren’t what they used to be and, in fact, those who haven’t visited a long-term care facility lately may be surprised to see that there’s been a culture change in the world of older adult services. 

Traditional care focused on treatments offered in an institutional environment and were delivered across schedules designed to meet the needs of the facility and staff.  Residents often reported experiencing a sense of isolation and loneliness.   Today, care for residents is person centered and staff engage in caregiving relationships based upon an individual’s needs and personal desires.  The Green House Model combines small homes with the full range of personal care and clinical services expected in a high-quality nursing home as well as assisted and independent living environments. 

Imagine a home with ten private bedrooms and baths centered around a great room or living area, a dining room and kitchen that reflect the comforts of home.  Imagine elders and staff creating menus and schedules based on personal preferences. Imagine a state-of-the-art, caregiving facility where elders are stakeholders in decision-making and are encouraged to participate in activities as they desire – even staying up all night, sleeping in, or having breakfast at noon, if that’s what they want.

Caring for Our Elders is a campaign that will replace an outdated and antiquated nursing home. Phase One funded the construction and two Green House homes for ten elders each and 12 assisted living apartments. Phase Two which is not in the works yet will add two more Green Houses and independent living units. Within the walls, resident-driven care will ensure that the values of choice, dignity, respect, self-determination and purposeful living are present at every level of daily life.

Kansas Senior Living, Inc., the parent company of SunPorch of Smith County, is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization established to provide quality services to meet the needs of the elderly, indigent, frail and/or disabled, primarily in rural communities.  The organization’s main goal is to construct and operate senior living campuses in the Green House model to provide a range of care from independent and assisted living to skilled nursing houses.  Another goal is to attract and retain competent and caring employees to serve elders by providing good training, competitive compensation and opportunities for personal and professional growth. SunPorch of Smith County is a stand-alone 501(c)3 nonprofit governed by three Smith County residents (Linda Morgan, Tammy Windscheffel, and Amy Howland) and three members from Kansas Senior Living (Roger Farrell, Doug Norman and Tom Long).

Open house was held on Friday September 27, 2019 from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm with the Ribbon Cutting at 11:00 am.  Speakers included Senator Jerry Moran, Art Befort, County Commissioner, John Grace Kansas Senior Living President & Tammy Windscheffel, Board Member.

If you would like more information about this topic please contact Julie Troy, Marketing and Community Relations at (785) 282-6722 or