Biz Profile: Rivergate – Service, Compassion, Trust

Rivergate Terrace and Health Care Center Celebrates its 25,000th patient and more than 45 years of service to the Downriver community.

When Ronald Stamper joined the Rivergate Terrace and Health Care Center, he thought he would just be reuniting with his wife Marilyn in the place they would now call home. Little did he know that he would be the 25,000th resident of Rivergate and would become a greatly celebrated addition to the community.

“It’s a wonderful place to be,” Stamper says of his new home, and he’s not alone in that sentiment. Resident Lorena May DeBolt says it’s the safest and the best place she’s ever been, and she’s been to several care facilities. “They’re so good to everybody here,” DeBolt states, describing everyone from the maintenance workers all the way to the administrators as “wonderful.”

At the May celebration with her niece, DeBolt reminisced about the day she purchased a new dresser and how the maintenance crew volunteered to pick it up from the store and put it together. She said, “They’re like that. They do everything for you.” Pausing a moment, a little teary, she added, “I get choked up thinking about it, how nice they are.”

Mitch Metzger, administrator of Rivergate Health Care Center, explained, “The residents and their families become an extension to our own families,” a sentiment echoed over and over by every resident, staff member, and administrator. “It’s been an honor and a privilege to have served so many people and their loved ones,” Metzger continued, stating that it’s the goal of Rivergate to make every resident’s day, every day.

To properly celebrate its 25,000th patient and over 45 years of outstanding service to the Downriver community, Rivergate Terrace and Health Care Center pulled out all the stops. With a large outdoor tent, string quartet, DJ, food, drinks, speakers, ice sculpture, and more, it was a moment for employees, residents, and their family members to relish in the hard work and dedication that went into making Rivergate the premier name in healthcare in Riverview.

“It’s a celebration of community,” said Amy Swalwell, administrator of Rivergate Terrace, who has worked at Rivergate for 19 years.

Yet Rivergate is more than just a home for residents needing care. Swalwell said there has been a large number of younger patients in need of short-term rehab and that the facility even has a dementia unit.

Employees at the center also perform monthly community outreach events. “We’ve been a part of the community for so long,” Swalwell explained, “that it’s important for us to reach out and give back by educating people on topics that we see affecting members of the local community like sleep disorders and diabetes.”

Opened in 1971, Rivergate Health Care Center (then called Rivergate Convalescence Center) existed to provide quality assisted-living care for the aging and elderly. When Regional Vice President John Polturanus, who has worked at Rivergate for 36 years, began working at Rivergate in 1979, there were less than 2,000 patients and rooms cost about $15 a day. Fast forward a few more years where it was determined that “Rivergate would need to identify an owner that could provide long-term care services and were better equipped to meet the industry expectations for the individuals being served,” according to Poltranus.

Rivergate found that owner when Forest Preston of Life Care Centers of America bought the company in the late 1980’s. Bringing a strong mission and values statement and high standards of quality care, the new company “set forth a path for achieving phenomenal outcomes.” Polturanus said it did not take them long to realize how fortunate they were to become a part of the Life Care family.

Polturanus stated that two very important operating standards remain at the forefront of their mission: to always provide the patient or resident with whatever he or she needs and to treat and value employees as the number one resource.

During his time at Rivergate, Polturanus had the opportunity to work with some of the world’s greatest unsung heroes. “We did not choose these jobs, they have chosen us. It is this calling that has kept us motivated in caring for those who are in need,” he said.

During his speech, Riverview mayor Andrew Swift pointed out that Rivergate has served over twice the number of people who live in Riverview. “Every resident of Riverview has or knows someone [in one of the Rivergate facilities],” he said. The mayor himself has three family members who work at the center.

Later in the celebration, Representative Ryan Hunter of Congresswoman Debbie Dingell’s office made a few short remarks congratulating the Rivergate Center for their achievements and presented an award to Ronald Stamper as the 25,000th member of the Rivergate Complex.

“The culture here is one of family,” said Division Vice President of the Northeast Region Zo Long. “Patients, residents, staff – we’re all family.” Yet reflecting on the success the Rivergate Complex has had, Long said that she is most proud of the quality of care outcomes, and of course, the number of patients they’ve had coming through their doors. “People need care all of the time, we’ve always been here and we’ve always maintained that same mission-driven thought process, so it’s been a success pattern for this complex.”

It wasn’t just company administrators and state officials coming to join in on the celebration. Local legend Chuck Gaidica was also in attendance to honor the Rivergate Complex, its residents, and the visionaries who made it all possible. He says the metro area is “wired with people who are survivors and who give back.” To be a great organization, he continued, one needs “dedication, endurance, and big hearts,” qualities he believed Rivergate has in abundance. Gaidica even took time out of his day to meet and greet residents, employees, and take pictures with the many people in attendance.

“This is an organization that serves people who really need help,” Gaidica said, “and that’s an important component of caring.” He explained that he chose to attend the event because when he sees organizations that care for people and do it for all the best reasons, it should indeed be celebrated.

And while it’s a great achievement to have members of the community come out and support Rivergate Terrace and Health Care Center and celebrate their impressive accomplishments, it’s people like Director of Marketing Jennifer Crosthwaite who said it best: “It is truly an honor to have cared for over 25,000 residents since we opened over 45 years ago.” She said that it’s because of the “dedication and compassion given by our employees as well as the confidence and faith entrusted to us by our family members that we will continue to touch the lives of 25,000 more.”

To learn more about Rivergate Terrace and Rivergate Health Care Center, please call 734-284-7200 or visit rivergateterrace.com and rivergatehealthcarecenter.com