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It was moving day Saturday for about 250 people who have lived – some for decades – in the Erie County Home in Alden.

The residents were anxious to begin a new chapter in their lives at Erie County Medical Center’s brand-new, $103 million Terrace View Long-Term Care Facility.

“I’m very excited about it. I had a chance to tour the new building, and it was state-of-the-art – beautiful – and I can’t wait to get there,” said Robert Chastain Jr.

“I’m glad everybody is going with us,” Chastain said of the staff.

The five floors designed by Cannon Design – with tall ceilings, earth-toned materials, attractive lighting, colorful artwork and Buffalo-themed living units – reflect dramatic advances in institutional care since the serviceable but less resident-friendly Erie County Home was completed in 1925.

“It’s beautiful. We knew it was going to be nice, but we didn’t expect anything like this,” said Barbara Kaminski as she settled into her new room. “It’s like a hotel. It’s just so gorgeous. ... I’m looking forward to unpacking and making it my home.”

As Kaminski settled in, other residents waited patiently as transport vehicles idled outside.

Richard Cleland, ECMC’s chief operating officer, was among dozens of staffers and volunteers to welcome people and help with a smooth transition. Another 120 residents from ECMC’s skilled nursing facility are due to move in today and Monday.

The new facility accommodates 390 beds – a far cry from the 722 beds the 600,000-square-foot Alden complex, which stretched a quarter-mile, housed as recently as three years ago.

Cleland said the new location will be more convenient for staff and residents, most of whom are referred by ECMC. Eighty percent of the residents’ families live in Buffalo, he said, while the overwhelming majority of workers also come from the city.

Now, residents in need of hospital care will have direct access to ECMC through a hallway. Previously, they had to be transported 16 miles to ECMC from the Alden site. The annual savings on this front alone is projected at about $1 million, Cleland said.

Other improvements that buck the institutional feel of old include open sitting areas, low desks and better meal stations.

The ECMC campus facility also will help the county to better help those who are less fortunate, said Gary Norsen, the administrator of Terrace View.

“We serve the greater good for the people of Erie County – the indigent residents, geriatric population, the homeless,” Norsen said.

Paul Anthon, a retired Buffalo firefighter who heads up the Residents Council, is thrilled with the change. “I think it’s the greatest thing since sliced bread,” said Anthon, who added that he owes a debt of gratitude to the Erie County Home.

“I was doing pretty badly when I got here, physically, emotionally, but within a very short period, I got acclimated," he said.

“I’m just glad to see that somebody started doing things right as far as the investment being made into our future.”

email: msommer@buffnews.com