KEARNEY — The city’s newest care facility, Brookestone Gardens, opened Monday in southwest Kearney.

“It’s all coming together, so that makes it exciting,” administrator Stacie Brueggeman said about the hustle and bustle of opening day in the facility at 2615 W. 11th St., near Kearney Regional Medical Center, Kearney High School and Central Community College’s Kearney Center.

Brookestone Gardens is set up to offer 47 apartments for independent and assisted living. The facility also has rehabilitation and long-term care wings.

When it’s fully operational Brookestone Gardens could employ as many as 130 medical professionals and support staff. The payroll will be $4 million annually.

Residents may live independently or receive a bit of support as assisted living residents.

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“We have three studios. The others are like full apartments with a kitchen, washer and dryer, one bedroom or all the way up to two bedrooms and two baths,” Brueggeman said.

On the skilled nursing side of the facility are 25 beds where residents may recover following surgery, strokes, wounds or other conditions requiring skilled care.

“In our rehab unit, we have a huge therapy room,” Brueggeman said. “It’s for working on getting them independent again, or where they were before their illness.”

For residents approaching the end of their lives, Brookestone Gardens has 29 long-term skilled beds. The area includes rooms where families can gather or take a break.

Decor throughout the building is intended to have a comforting, feel-at-home look, Brueggeman said, explaining that Jack Vetter, owner of Vetter Health Services of Omaha, affords his personal attention to many of the details, including his insistence that all of his facilities have an ice cream parlor and popcorn popper. The Kearney facility also features a bistro. Vetter’s wife selected china that’s available in the family dining room.

The facility has hair salons, exercise rooms, putt-putt golf and a large courtyard with a pergola.

Brueggeman said the grounds are laid out so day-to-day activities, including deliveries, aren’t a distraction or disruption for residents.

On Monday Brueggeman said there were three residents in the independent and assisting living side and one resident on the skilled nursing side. She anticipates in one week there will be eight residents in the independent and assisting living side and three residents on the skilled nursing side.

The gradual growth is an opportunity to develop skills and procedures, and qualify for licensure, Brueggeman said.

There were a total of 60 employees at Brookestone Gardens on Monday. It’s expected the facility’s employment will top out around 100 to 130.

As with other nursing homes, Brueggeman said her facility is working hard to hire licensed nurses.

“That’s kind of where our crunch has been. That’s how it is industrywide,” she said.

Brueggeman, who has worked in long-term care for 27 years, said she hopes that Brookestone Gardens develops a reputation as a great place to work. “This is a mission-driven, value-driven company. If your employees are happy, they’re going to take great care of our residents.”

The Brookestone Gardens buildings encompass 100,000 square feet and occupy about half of the 28.5-acre tract where they’re built.

Vetter operates about 30 similar facilities in five states, including one in Broken Bow.

The facility cost $20 million to build, according to earlier Hub reports.