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Living the good life at Keystone Place

New senior facility provides quality care and location
Michelle Milcoff, Keystone Place Director of Community Relations, Mary Jo Pipkin, Keystone Place Executive Director, and Tom Lepic, of Lepic-Kroeger Realtors, cut the ribbon during the Nov. 2 opening ceremony of Keystone Place at Forevergreen, a new 123-unit independent living, assisted living and memory care community in North Liberty. (photo by Shianne Fisher)

NORTH LIBERTY– Sue and Bruce Clark, of Iowa City, were finally able to move into their new home late last month– along with dozens of other area seniors.
“It’s been a long time we’ve been waiting,” said Sue. “We’re proud that we can live here.”
The Clarks are just two of the incoming residents of Keystone Place at Forevergreen, a new 123-unit independent living, assisted living and memory care community in North Liberty. They celebrated alongside 150 other area professionals, local officials and residents at the building’s ribbon cutting ceremony on Wednesday, Nov. 2, nearly two years after the project’s groundbreaking in November 2014.
“Today marks the culmination of an idea that began about five years ago, an idea to build a new fantastic home for seniors were everyone would feel loved, everyone would feel secure and everyone would live fully with support encompassing their life changes,” said Julie Dancer, a Keystone Place at Forevergreen co-owner. “The timing was excellent. North Liberty was ready for us, and here we are. Our residents are farmers, teachers, doctors, business professionals, grandmas, grandpas, moms, and dads. Every single resident is special to us and important to us. We’re grateful that they have chosen this community to call home.”
The four-story building, located at the former Colony Country RV Park at 1275 W. Forevergreen Rd., consists of studio, 1- and 2-bedroom apartments, many with balcony or patio space. There’s also underground parking available.
“It’s top of the line,” said Matt Lepic, of Solon. “It makes it like home for somebody. It doesn’t feel like going into a hospital or anything like that.”
Son of Keystone Place at Forevergreen co-owner Tom Lepic, Matt said he feels good about his grandfather-in-law moving into the community.
“It feels like you’re almost on a vacation,” he said. “It gives you that feeling that you’re not in assisted living or memory care.”
Apart from its quiet and woodsy location, Keystone Place at Forevergreen boasts a number of amenities including maintenance and laundry services, a fitness center, private dining, an emergency response system, and a variety of dining options. Trained care associates are also available 24/7 for residents that need assistance.
Launched under Indianapolis-based Keystone Senior management Services, the facility is a relative of sorts to two senior living communities in Cedar Rapids: Keystone Cedars Assisted Living and Keystone Place Independent Living.
Keystone Place at Forevergreen Executive Director Mary Jo Pipkin said while assisted and independent living are separate at the Cedar Rapids’ Keystones, the team went a different route with the North Liberty facility.
“This is the ideal model, to keep it all under one roof,” said Pipkin. “If someone starts off in independent and they’re declining, need care, they’re still familiar with the community and individuals. They still have the same address.”
That sense of place is crucial for residents, in the memory care units,diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia.
“A lot of residents in memory care shouldn’t be taken out to high stimulus areas or for long periods of time,” said Pipkin. “Keystone gives them an opportunity to get out of their environment but yet be so close that within one minute they can take them back if things start to get uncomfortable or disruptive or they need assistance.”
She said the building is about 70 percent full in the independent and memory care units and 25 percent full in assisted living. She estimated a 50-percent vacancy by the end of the year, with most of the outstanding reservations moved in by Thanksgiving.
There are about 35 staff members currently with a projected 75 needed at full capacity, ranging from dining services to health care professionals to well-living specialists.
Although it’s a private-pay facility, Pipkin said long-term care insurance and the Veterans Association aid and attendance program can help fund an assisted living or memory care stay. Rates for all units start at about $2,800 per month and go up depending on services and apartment size.
Pipkin stressed the affordability of the facility, especially if residents have been planning for retirement.
“Really, so much is included,” she said. “You can get rid of many expenses that people don’t think about.”
She also said the sense of community outweighs the financials.
“Some people just think I’ll have someone come in and care for me for a few hours a day, but it ends up being more. And they’re still isolating themselves,” she said. “The big part of moving into a community is getting yourself out of the house every day.”
And for Keystone Place at Forevergreen residents, out of the house is just a walk down the hall to the billiards room, theater or salon. Social and cultural outings, as well as in-house classes, will also be offered.
And the residents have all the say, said Pipkin, with monthly resident meetings meant to evaluate services and determine wants and needs.
“We’ll morph it into what the residents want,” she added.
That includes a pet allowance, which was a main reason the Clarks chose Keystone.
“There’s everything,” said Sue. “I’m sure they’ll be some bumps in the road, but they’ll work it out.”

Keystone Place at Forevergreen
1275 W. Forevergreen Rd.