Stillwater Senior Living celebrates expansion with luau party

It took more than two years, but Stillwater Senior Living in Edwardsville finally got to celebrate its expansion.

Stillwater, located at 1111 University Drive, held a luau party and ribbon cutting on Friday to officially commemorate the $5.3 million expansion, which was completed on March 15, 2020, with a license issued on May 28, 2020.

Like so many other things over the past two years, the grand opening was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The expansion includes 16 additional assisted living apartments, 18 state-of-the-art memory suites with optional companion suites for couples, a chapel, a guest room, a secured courtyard, a sensory room, all-day dining, a private entrance, 24-hour nursing, an in-house physician and a private salon. All staff members are dementia- and Alzheimer’s-certified.

“The guest room is for families that are coming in from out of town, or if it’s an end-of-life situation and they need a break, but they don’t want to leave Mom or Dad,” Stillwater Senior Living Director of Marketing Shameem Coppotelli said. “They can make use of that room and it’s free of charge.”

Coppotelli added that the expansion came about as a result of families looking for assisted living or memory care facilities for their loved ones.

“We kept having to push back the date to move them in,” Coppotelli said. “It’s very frustrating for families and it’s very frustrating for us because we want to help all seniors and their families because they’re in a crisis mode.”

Stillwater Senior Living opened in January 2015.

“It was kind of a mission of love by Kathy Long, who is our owner,” Coppotelli said. “This is something that she wants to do to serve seniors. I came on board in September 2017 and by December, we had a waiting list.

“We got together with Kathy and said that we needed more rooms and that we needed memory care. We talked to architects, and we designed the new expansion and got everything that we needed to serve our seniors.”

When it came to finally scheduling the grand opening celebration for the expansion, the luau party was an easy choice.

“Normally during the summer months, we have a luau because the (winter) holidays are over and it’s time for us to get outside and have a barbecue and just enjoy being outdoors,” Coppotelli said. “We thought it would be great to have a grand opening and a luau all at once.

“Our residents get to enjoy a party and outsiders and families get to come in. We’ve dealt with so many holidays and celebrations that were in-house, so to be able to open up the doors and let people come in is truly amazing.”

In addition to piña coladas, mai tais and beer, residents were served Hawaiian barbecue and luau-style hors d’oeuvres.

“We have different stations so people can see different parts of the new expansion,” Coppotelli said. “They can see the family room where we do different activities, along with a fitness center and a larger physical therapy room. We want people to see what we’ve done.”

Stillwater Executive Director Emily Bruegge-Klein said the facility has been able to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic without any severe outbreaks.

“We went through this first 300 days of the pandemic without having a case and then we had our first five cases,” Bruegge-Klein said. “We were very diligent in trying to keep everyone safe. We’ve had five vaccine clinics and booster clinics, all in-house.”

The facility now has 64 assisted living apartments with 73 assisted living residents and 18 residents in the 18 memory care apartments.

“We made the memory care a different kind of concept where some of our rooms are larger to accommodate if a husband and wife want to share a room,” Bruegge-Klein said. “For instance, if both of them require extra care in a secured environment, we’re able to make sure that couple stays together. We’re able to make this their forever home.”

The expansion increased the square footage of the facility to 72,000 square feet and essentially doubled the size of the facility.

“We went from 46 apartments to 80 apartments with the addition of 34 units,” Bruegge-Klein said. “We went from 46 residents to 89 residents, and we went from 42 staff members to 93 staff members. We were full within the first six months.”

The memory care facility, known as Lakeside Memory Care Neighborhood, is something that the staff members are especially proud of.

Many of the memory care apartments have a view of a lake and there is also a courtyard where residents can sit and enjoy looking at nature.

“We worked over two years with Korte Construction to design what we felt was a perfect space for people with cognitive issues, even down to the lighting,” Bruegge-Klein said. “The lights dim in the evening, so everyone knows it’s nighttime

“People also eat more when they see other people eating, so everyone instinctually sits down and bellies up to the bar. The food is brought in from our main kitchen and we have snacks and drinks and anything they want to keep them hydrated and with proper nutrition.”

Special care was taken care to encourage the memory care patients to socialize and interact.

“It’s like a house because everybody gathers in the living room or the kitchen,” Bruegge-Klein said. “In the design of this space, we wanted to make sure that it was someplace they want to spend their time so that they are actively engaged.”

Coppotelli feels that family atmosphere is important to every aspect of the operation at Stillwater Senior Living.

“The fact that we are family-owned and operated is huge,” Coppotelli said. “Everybody is so corporate and (corporations) look at things in a totally different way. We are able to give more customer service.

“We know every single resident and we know their likes and dislikes. We’re dealing with cognitive impairments and that’s a whole other realm of getting to know a resident. We give them purpose and that’s what they want. They need to be happy, healthy and safe.”

In addition, Stillwater offers 24-hour nursing.

“There is no other assisted living facility in the area that has 24-hour nursing in the building,” Coppotelli said. “That’s very important, especially when it comes to taking care of residents in our memory care.”

For more information about Stillwater Senior Living, visit or call 618-692-CARE (2273).

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