Reflecting on 60 Years of Building on Innovation

Reflecting on 60 Years of Building on Innovation


Robin Mixdorf, President, Meth-Wick Community

Sixty years of Meth-Wick. It’s an accomplishment for our staff and a testament to our residents. For 60 years, older adults and their families have trusted us to provide a home for a special chapter in their lives. From the beginning we’ve been committed to innovation—on our campus, in our programs, and through our services.

To honor the commitment we made at our founding and continue to honor today, our 60th anniversary theme is “Building on Innovation.” We will be exploring this theme and the role of innovation at Meth-Wick throughout the year on the blog. To kick off the series, Meth-Wick President Robin Mixdorf joins us to reflect on Meth-Wick’s growth over the last 60 years.

“For us, innovation means staying in touch with the consumer,” said Mixdorf. “We have always sought to incorporate changing consumer expectations into the housing and service options on campus.”

When Meth-Wick opened The Manor doors in 1961, our campus consisted of just one building with two levels of care. Residents lived in small apartments, ate at set mealtimes in a common cafeteria, and St. Luke’s Hospital administered an infirmary on the fourth floor for residents who needed extra medical attention.

“The Manor was truly innovative in the senior housing arena in 1961,” said Mixdorf. “From there, each living area we’ve added over the years reflects the changing needs and wants of older adults.”

Our campus has expanded from a one building facility in 1961 to a living, breathing community today. Construction crews have been a common sight on the 68-acre campus as we’ve opened eight unique residences in the last sixty years:

  • 1961 – The Manor
  • 1987 – Greenwood Terrace
  • 1992 – Brendelwood Village
  • 1996 – Deer Ridge
  • 1998 – Arbor Place
  • 2000 – The Woodlands
  • 2010 – Highland Park
  • 2017 – Oakwood

We asked Mixdorf what she is most proud of from her time at Meth-Wick. She has served as president since 1999.

“It is never boring at Meth-Wick—there are always new people to meet, and it truly functions as its own little town. One of the best achievements is the longevity of our staff, many of whom have worked here 15, 20, even 45 years. Staff retention and stability is essential to providing the best service and care to our residents.”

That service and care is another area of innovation at Meth-Wick. We have long been committed to helping residents prepare for changes in their lifestyle as they grow older. This led to the development of our Home and Health Services and our focus on the whole person wellness model across all the levels of care we offer. The model emphasizes six dimensions of wellness: spiritual, physical, vocational, emotional, intellectual,  and social wellness. “Our aging in place and wellness services are some of the biggest developments we’ve made in the last few decades,” said Mixdorf.

Perhaps our most unique innovation is our styles of living. When a resident moves to Meth-Wick we don’t want them to worry about ever moving again. No matter how a person’s health needs change, we have developed a full spectrum of living options right here on campus. Independence Plus and assisted living have been available in The Manor since we opened in the sixties. Greenwood Terrace kickstarted our independent living options in 1987. This style has experienced the most growth—today we have five unique options for independent living throughout campus. Arbor Place opened in 1998 to serve residents with Alzheimer’s and dementia. The Woodlands opened in 2000 as a state-of-the-art nursing facility, improving that  style of living.

“Times have changed but we continue to adopt best practices that meet the needs of older Iowans today and tomorrow,” Mixdorf shared.

We asked Mixdorf to think about that initial team that opened Meth-Wick in the sixties. If she could have dinner with the group, what would she tell them about how the organization has grown?

“I would definitely invite them to a meal in the Hilltop dining room,” said Mixdorf. “Back then, dinner was served for everyone at the same time with a bell that announced it was time to eat. Today we operate a restaurant that is open all day with a cook-to-order menu that meets the customer’s individual wants and needs. Our goal is to be the restaurant our residents choose to take their family and guests to when they go out to dinner. It’s the same location as the dining room from the sixties but a totally different concept.”

The same could be said for Meth-Wick Community as a whole—the same beautiful location with totally innovative new concepts.