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Much more than ‘just a nursing home’

“Quality care, caring people.”

It is a motto that staff, administrators, board members and volunteers strive for and believe in at Mother of Mercy Campus of Care in Albany.

“We are all working on our mission to provide the best quality of life for those seniors entrusted to our care,” said John J. Hoefs, administrator/CEO of Mother of Mercy. “We accomplish this mission by maintaining high standards of care for all who live here by addressing each individual’s physical, emotional and spiritual needs.”

When people think of Mother of Mercy, they often think of it as just a nursing home. And while the nursing home (also referred to as a care center) is an important part of Mother of Mercy, it is definitely not the only  part. Far from it. Mother of Mercy offers a variety of housing options and provides a continuum of services for older adults, whether they need no care, a little care or a lot of care. Mother of Mercy offers senior apartments, assisted living apartments and a full service care center complete with dementia care and an Alzheimer’s unit.

Mother of Mercy is located alongside the Albany Golf Course and Church of Seven Dolors in Albany. It has been at this location for about 54 years. The Church of Seven Dolors established the organization in 1958 as a rest home for the elderly, and its doors were opened in 1959. The tax-exempt, nonprofit facility was managed by the Sisters of St. Benedictine in the early years but is now overseen by a group of volunteer board members and managed by a professional administrator. “The mission of serving the elderly has been sustained, but as time has passed, it has evolved,” said Hoefs. “Now we have more of a continuum of services.”

There are currently about 200 senior citizens living on campus, and they are cared for 24 hours a day, seven days a week by about 170 staff members. Add in the vendors and volunteers and it resembles a small village of about 500 people.

Hoefs, his staff and volunteers work hard to keep the standards at the highest level possible.

“One of our goals every year is to be in the upper quartile of care centers and assisted living facilities based on surveys conducted throughout the state,” said Hoefs.  “In our latest survey we were only cited for one deficiency, and the average is about 12. We are very proud of how we come across to these surveyors each year.”

Providing top-end nursing care is a top priority at Mother of Mercy, and the nursing staff is constantly looking for ways to better services to the residents.

“People are entrusted to us, and we are always looking for ways to improve,” said Debbie Massara, director of nursing. “Our staff is all about the mission, ‘quality care, caring people,’ and you will hear the team members say that quite a bit.”

Other areas of high importance include wellness, nutrition and fitness.

“These are important threads that run throughout our program,” said Hoefs.

Mother of Mercy started a fitness program called Fit4Life about four years ago, which helps the residents become stronger and have better balance. Therapeutic exercises are offered on a one-on-one basis, as well as through group sessions.

“When I get here at 7:30 a.m. I wave at the residents who are exercising on the bikes. They get up and at it early in the morning.”

The exercise program has resulted in better living, and in some cases, more independent living.

“It is wonderful to see people trying to walk again,” said Hoefs. “It is great to see someone getting up to the walker after being confined to a wheelchair.”

There is daily list of activities available to residents at each of the facilities. Just a few of the activities include music, bingo, fishing trips, musical performances, attending Twins games or just going for a trip in the country to look at the farms and fall colors.

Mother of Mercy has a beauty shop on site and volunteers bring residents to and from the beauty shop when it is time for their appointment.

Assisting Mother of Mercy are two organizations, the Mother of Mercy Foundation and the Mother of Mercy Auxiliary.

The foundation helps Mother of Mercy three ways, through capital improvements, legacy/endowments and education.

“Right now we are developing a chapel remodel campaign,” said Bonnie Wenker, fundraising and marketing manager at Mother of Mercy Foundation. “We have one major fundraising event each year in May. It is called the Wine and Dine for MOM, and it is held on Mother’s Day weekend.”

The Mother of Mercy Auxiliary also supports the organization through volunteer efforts and fundraising.

Care Center The care center was built on two levels, and a third level was added in 2008-2009 to provide more private rooms and better bathing facilities.

“Today’s care center is akin to a hospital of maybe 20 years ago,” said Hoefs. “We are dealing with much more acute needs than a nursing home used to.”

There are a total of 76 beds in the care center, including 20 private rooms on the third floor and 56 licensed beds on the first and second floors. The lower level is a secure floor, as many of the residents who live on this level suffer from dementia.

The third floor also has rehabilitation services, where residents can receive physical, speech and occupational therapies.

There is a chapel at the care center and a priest offers daily Mass and rosary services. Lutheran services are provided on weekends and Lutheran Bible study is also offered weekly.

Rehab services are also offered through the care center.

Memory Lane Memory Lane is a 15-unit facility dedicated to meet the needs of those residents experiencing memory loss. Staff at Memory Lane are trained to understand cognitive loss, and they work to engage residents in daily activities in a cozy home-like setting.

Mother of Mercy Apartments (Independent and Assisted Living) Those who are in need of assistance in the comfort and privacy of their own home may opt for Mother of Mercy Independent and Assisted Living. There are 32 apartments, and the services are available to those who need them.

“Services are provided and offered in coordination with the tenant’s primary care physician, where staff follow up on physician orders by assisting tenants with activities of daily living, such as bathing, housekeeping, laundry, medication and oxygen management,” said Hoefs.

Mercy Manor Apartments Mercy Manor is a senior living community with 65 apartments available to those age 62 or better. It is located just a few blocks from the main campus.

“Mercy Manor was built in conjunction with HUD (the Department of Housing and Urban Development),” said Hoefs. “The tenants have to be income qualified to live there. The first part of Mercy Manor opened in 1997, and the second part was added in 2006.”

Each apartment has a carpeted living room, a bedroom, a bathroom, a dining and kitchen area. A stove and refrigerator are included, as well as a pull cord call system for additional safety.

“It’s a family here,” said Sue Wichman, director of Apartment Services. “These people take care of each other like you wouldn’t believe. If someone doesn’t come down for lunch someone is up there checking on them, and they will walk them back to their apartment after lunch.”

The tenants are proud of their facility and are proud to tell people about it.

“When we give tours, the tenants are just like walking testimonials. They tell the people, ‘oh you will love it here. Come and live here with us,’” said Shelly Young, apartment manager/HUD. “It is amazing how much they care about each other and how much they love it here.”

If you would like to learn more about Mother of Mercy Campus of Care or to schedule a tour, call 320-845-2195, email or visit their campus at 230 Church Avenue in Albany. More information can be found online at

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