Family run care business opens 68-unit assisted living facility

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Ask some of the tenants in the newly completed Brentwood by the Bay Assisted Living on Post Road in Cowesett what they like best about the facility and, without exception, they’ll say the people. Next comes the amenities and the view.

“I’m going to heaven and I’m not dead yet,” said Edna Leonard, who never imagined she would feel the way she does today.

Leonard said she was in severe pain, could not walk and was incapable of even bending her fingers because of arthritis when admitted to the adjoining Brentwood Nursing Home and Rehabilitation in January.

On a recent visit she and two other tenants in assisted living, Rose Johnson and Louise Henry, glued fabric fall leaves onto glass bowls that will be lit with electric tea candles as seasonal displays. The crafts project was more about sharing stories and talking about who would be joining their company than completing the lamps.

“I’m having a ball,” said Johnson, who was admitted to the adjoining Brentwood Nursing Home and Rehabilitation with a broken leg and, rather than returning home where she would be alone, is trying assisted living.

It is this continuum of care that the Miga family looks to foster with the 68-unit assisted living facility. The need is growing, says Richard Miga Jr.

In April 2013 the Rhode Island Division of Planning released population projections through 2040 showing that, between 2015 and 2020, there will be an increase in the age 70 population by 14 percent, or 16,079 individuals. Over the next five years that figure jumps to 35 percent, or 38,994 individuals. Meanwhile, the overall population in Rhode Island is only projected to increase by 3 percent between 2015 and 2020 and by less than 1.5 percent between 2015 and 2025.

The population Miga is looking to serve is generally in their mid-80s and widowed and with local connections. This may be someone living in the Warwick area and no longer capable of managing the family home or the family member of a Rhode Island resident wanting to have their loved one living close by.

Brentwood by the Bay Assisted Living has a mix of studio and one-bedroom and stateroom units that are leased on a monthly basis at a range of $4,400 to $6,270. The monthly fee covers meals and a variety of services from transportation, activities program, safety checks and weekly housekeeping and linen services. Medication and personalized nursing services are available for additional rates.

Amenities include a general store, beauty parlor and barber shop, 24-hour snack bar, library, fitness area, private dining room for special gatherings, shared balconies, internet access and walking paths and outside gardens.

Miga said many tenants, as they are downsizing, prefer setting up their unit with their own furniture, although Brentwood also has furnished units.

The family has a long history of providing care to the elderly and infirmed in Warwick. Richard Miga Sr. and his wife Patricia established the Sunny View Nursing Home on Corona Street in 1959, which continues to operate today. He grew up on Sunny View Farm – hence the name for the nursing home that was built on the property – and was a milkman. Patricia was a nurse.

In 1974 they expanded, buying the Brentwood Nursing Home and Rehabilitation on Post Road in Cowesett. After years of assembling the three lots to the south of the nursing home, the Migas carried their vision to the next level with the assisted living facility. The ambitious project met some resistance from neighbors who feared losing views of Greenwich Bay but gained Planning and Zoning Board approvals.

What the Migas are doing runs counter to the trend of the purchase of locally owned nursing homes by large companies with facilities in multiple states. At one time, says Miga, there were 84 nursing homes in the state, of which about 20 percent were owned and operated by large out-of-state operations with the rest locally owned and operated. Today, the numbers are reversed and the locally owned operations are disappearing. Few, if any, are expanding as the Migas are doing.

Michael McMahon, who started work in the Brentwood kitchen while a student at Providence College and is now admissions director, said the family takes pride in its work and its operation, employing 240 in its three facilities.

“We have a number of employees who started with us as dietary aids, became nursing assistants and now are nurses. We have staff who started many years ago who now have children, nieces and nephews who now work here and have become part of the ‘family.’ We have taken care of multiple generations of families. Parents that we cared for in the 1970s and 1980s now have their children in our care,” he said.

Brentwood by the Bay opened on Sept. 4. Three tenants signed up that day. Since then, 19 more have booked units and 13 have moved in.

For the Migas, the numbers are an affirmation of their reputation and the investment they have made. It was also a relief.

“Getting those first people in here was really big,” said Richard Miga during a break during an open house following a ribbon cutting last Wednesday.

HANDING BACK THE SNIPS:

The Miga family, staff of Brentwood by the Bay Assisted Living and guests joined on the terrace overlooking Greenwich Bay on Wednesday for the official opening of the facility in Cowesett. Here, Mayor Scott Avedisian hands back the scissors following the ribbon cutting. (Warwick Beacon photos)

YEARS IN THE PLANNING:

Mayor Scott Avedisian and Richard Miga talk about what went into building the assisted living facility. ENJOYING THE PARTY:

Anna Shea and her daughter, Dotty Shea, and Angelina D'Ambrosco, a resident at Brentwood, at last Wednesday’s opening ceremony. HIS DOMAIN:

Nick Tolias oversees kitchen operations at Brentwood. LOVES THE PEOPLE:

Rose Johnson takes a break from a crafts project to join in the conversation. Looking on is Maureen McGhie, director of nurses at Brentwood Nursing Home. SHARING A LAUGH:

Edna Leonard, one of the first residents at Brentwood, and Michael McMahon talk about life at the new assisted living facility. NEWEST FACILITY:

Brentwood by the Bay Assisted Living fronts on Post Road in Cowesett but its view from the back overlooking Brewers Marina and Greenwich Bay that is a major allure.

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