By Amy Palumbo-LeClaire

Courtesy of The Yankee XPress

Photo by Amy Palumbo-LeClaire/The Yankee XPress

Life Care Center of Auburn has become a ‘home away from home’ for Admissions Marketing Director Carrie Cross, just as it is for the patients who inhabit the 154-bed health care center. Located just twelve minutes from the heart of Worcester, the newly renovated facility – known for superior quality and a beautiful country setting – helps to build a sense of community while offering patients in need of rehabilitation, sub-acute care, long-term health care and respite services numerous programs intended to help them return to the highest level of functioning possible.

“Auburn is a close-knit, cliquey kind of town,” admitted Cross, who began employment as a CNA before working her way up. “People from town usually realize they know someone else here. I am the baby of six kids. People knew me from my parent’s car dealership in town (Cross and Cross). I was always Roger and Betty’s daughter… or the granddaughter of Charles Cross (former Auburn Highway Superintendent). Or someone else’s sister. Now I’m asked, ‘Are you Kyle Cross’s mother?’ I’ve never had my own identity,” she chuckled. “But it’s a very family oriented town and I enjoy the stories.”

Life Care residents, while telling their stories—and creating new ones—are encouraged to participate in one of numerous activities posted on a monthly calendar. Full Internet services and laptops are available to check schedules and/or connect with a loved one via Skype. Transportation for community excursions is provided on a fifteen passenger, wheelchair accessible bus. Life Care special amenities include a gift store, ice cream parlor, beauty salon/barber shop, and library. Since its opening in 1994, Life Care has made tremendous progress in order to provide superior quality and help individuals feel secure while maintaining their freedom and sense of self.

“When I started here twenty-two years ago, most patients came from rest homes or assisted living. Today we take them directly from the ICU,” said Cross, a former WCIS banker who wouldn’t have imagined (back then) sinking into the shoes of her current Admissions role, one for which she claims the company has been fully supportive of and “has had faith in her every step of the way, even when she doubted herself.”

Along with her loyalty to the company, Cross is highly involved in community outreach. “Life Care has been good to me. I take a lot of pride in this building and take everything to heart. As President of Auburn’s Chamber of Commerce, I am a huge supporter of the community. I believe in the people and in making life better and easier.”

Whether relaxing in a dining room that offers a charming view of the courtyard, or taking a stroll outdoors by the gazebo, Life Care residents will be cared for by a team of skilled and compassionate professionals (CNA, LPN, RN). Life Care Center currently has wait lists for its long-term units. However, the subacute units, which are designed for “high acuity patients needing specialized medical services which may include medical rehabilitation, infusion therapy, wound care, pain management, and end of life care” are available. Typically, the hospital contacts Life Care in order to transfer information regarding patient heath and insurance.

“Health care has evolved to the acuity of the patient,” Cross said. “Insurance funding dictates the length of stay with us. We will advocate for the best interest of the patient and fight with an insurance company if need be. I am very much a promoter of having an advocate speak out for a patient. A lot of people are not thoroughly educated on their rights, and don’t realize they can appeal an insurance decision. If a patient is not safe to return home or needs more care we will work with insurance companies to say he/she ‘needs a bit more.’ Everybody is trying to save on health care costs, which can be a challenge. We want to be sure that the patient receives the benefit.”

Life Care rehabilitation patients will, furthermore, benefit from a skilled team of physical, occupational, and speech therapists who tailor programs to meet the needs of each patient and complete evaluations to determine specific needs.

Perhaps no one is better qualified to assess Life Care’s quality than former Auburn Hockey player Bill Winkelmann – also known as Wink – whose four-year stay, despite being a “long road” has moved forward with friendship and a sense of humor. “Carrie is the favorite. Our mothers are friends,” he said. “Every time I go down the hallway I run into someone I know. They have taken good care of me since I’ve been here.”

Life Care is highly involved with Auburn Middle School volunteers, who interact with residents and patients for different occasions while building important relationships.

“It’s not only about the medical care,” said Cross. “It’s about the emotional impact we make. Everyone needs to feel important.”

14 Masonic Circle
(508) 832-4800