What's in store: Hainkel Home_lowres

Members of Hainkel Home's staff pose in the courtyard, which has walking paths and picnic tables that are wheelchair-accessible.

Opened in 1891, the John J. Hainkel Jr. Home and Rehabilitation Center (612 Henry Clay Ave., 504-896-5900; www.hainkelhome.com) is a nonprofit nursing home and health center run by Mary Brooks Rodrigue.

 Rodrigue has been affiliated with the "unique little nursing home" for almost 20 years, and is now president of the board.

 "I can probably name every resident and every employee here," she says.

 The staff forms strong bonds with residents by knitting sweaters for them and buying them toys, and Hainkel Home offers several therapeutic services. In addition to skilled nursing care and post-operational recovery services, the institution offers physical, speech and occupational therapy, short-term, long-term and respite care and adult day care.

 Rodrigue says that this center, the second oldest in the city (formerly called the New Orleans Home for Incurables) was started to help those in need.

 "There weren't very many other nursing homes that would take them, so they came to Hainkel," she says.

 Rodrigue promotes high standards of health care in a safe, healthy and professional environment. She says what really sets the Hainkel Home apart from other care centers is its heart.

 "Most health care entities are for profit, so they just do it in order to get the money out of it," she says. "We don't. ... We try to individualize our care plans, and provide care that's not just cookie cutter. ... (If a resident) wants you to come in standing on one hand serving them? We'll do it."

 Rodrigue talks about the demanding nature of meeting every medical need of each patient, but she and her staff also are attentive to the pyschological well-being of their residents.

 "There's always that emotional need," she says, "so we provide volunteers and groups that come in and become a secondary family."

 Volunteers from Loyola University, Delgado Community College, Lycee Francais, Ochsner Health System and more come to the center to help care for patients.

 "Some are involved in our church services, some come and do activities ... singing, dancing, anything to get them involved," Rodrigue says. "Sometimes volunteers read to them, sometimes they just sit there and listen."

 A beauty shop and a barber shop are on-site, as well as a library and a chapel. Medical professionals such as dentists, podiatrists and ophthalmologists visit residents at least once a week.

 "It makes a real big difference," Rodrigue says.

 Pool tournaments, computer lessons, art classes, walks to the park and a garden — currently growing tomatoes — are just a few of the endeavors available to residents.

 "If we don't have an activity but they have a hobby they want to do, we encourage that hobby and will introduce it into our activity program," Rodrigue says.

 Rodrigue feels the real rewards come from the little things. "Waking up every morning and seeing the smiles on their faces, maybe just because I tied their shoe on my way in," she says, is what makes working at Hainkel Home worth it.