Northwood celebrates 50 years of serving community

Northwood Good Samaritan Center


JASPER — Fifty years ago, Northwood Retirement Community opened in Jasper as Northwood Good Samaritan Center.

It was the result of two years of dedicated work by a group of local people who wanted to have a nursing facility for seniors in the community.

“In Christ’s love, everyone is someone,” said Diane Eckert Jones, the current administrator of the facility. “We want all our residents to feel loved, valued and at peace.”

The idea for a senior living facility came up in 1967, when Rev. Ronald Schoo, then pastor of Redeemer Lutheran Church, learned that the Good Samaritan Society could be open to the idea of placing a facility in Jasper. He shared that information with one of the church members, Bob Ruckriegel.

A local group was formed for the mission, and they went to Metropolis, Illinois, to talk to the people that operated a Good Samaritan facility in that town. And it just so happened that Rev. Henry Forge, then regional director of the Illinois-Indiana district of the Good Samaritan Society was visiting the Metropolis center. He spoke to the group at length, according to a story about the facility in the Oct. 8, 1971, edition of The Herald.

The group came back motivated, and formed a fundraising plan. “The campaign was successful,” Ruckriegel said in a video about the facility. “We were able to raise $100,000.”

Northwood Good Samaritan Center

The next step was finding land for the facility. They settled on 4.75 acres in what was then called Northwood Park. “It was nothing but a gutted out, weather beaten hillside,” Ruckriegel said. The excavating company in Jasper leveled it off and the facility was built. “And that’s where it sits today,” he said.

A groundbreaking was held in 1967, and on March 9, 1969, the 72-bed Northwood Good Samaritan Center opened.

“In the beginning it was a challenge to fill the home up,” Ruckriegel said. “But once it started filling, it filled rather rapidly.”

The facility went through many additions and remodels over its 50-year existence. In 1971, an addition was built onto the north end of the facility, adding 36 beds. In 1989, 14 more residential units were added, along with a donor recognition wall.

In 2006, das Leben Haus opened to the east of the facility. The das Leben Haus is comprised of four independent-living apartments and a community room.

The facility’s logo and name changed to Northwood Retirement Community in 2007. In 2009, the Garden Ridge Memory Unit opened. In 2014, the assisted-living facility opened to the south of the main building.

Today, Northwood has 107 beds in the main building, 24 units in the assisted-living facility and the four independent-living apartments. It offers post-acute rehabilitation services, services for middle-stage dementia and traditional services.

Northwood is one of 80 facilities that is a Continuum of Care Retirement Community, which is a system that guides patients through a comprehensive array of health services spanning various levels of care.

Northwood Good Samaritan Center

“You can move around to the different services as needed,” Jones explained.

For instance, a person can live in an apartment, and move to assisted living when needed. Or, if a person lives in the assisted-living facility and needs additional temporary care, he or she could move to a traditional unit for a short time, and then go back to assisted living when he or she is able.

As a Christian-based, nonprofit facility, Northwood’s staff practices eight traits of Jesus: love, joy, compassion, acceptance, humility, courage, perseverance and honesty.

“If you’re living by those traits, you’re going to be a better person,” Jones said.

With that, Northwood welcomes all who want or need their services.

“As people are going through these struggles and life changes, if you come here, maybe you start out Medicare or private pay or if you don’t have money,” Jones said. “That is what this facility is here for. We don’t make them transfer to another place. We help them to get the resources to stay on the campus.”

The future of Northwood includes adding to the assisted-living facility and growing the outpatient rehabilitation services, along with remodeling and updating the facility and services to fit its residents’ needs.

Ruckriegel is still involved at the facility. He and another one of the founders, Armin Zehr, still serve on Northwood’s board.

“In the next 50 years, if we can see an expansion and growth like we’ve had in the past 50 years, we could double,” Ruckriegel said. “That would be great.”

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