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By Ricardo Castillo |The News

SAN MIGUEL DE ALLENDE – The popularity of San Miguel de Allende as a haven for American and Canadian retirees is bringing about a boom of care for the elderly homes. Several have opened up in the past few years and there is a new one coming up soon at the La Cieneguita township just three miles west outside of the city.

Says entrepreneur Pierre Lepoureau,  that establishing a new full time care center for the elderly is a type of business with a great future.

“There’s a big need here for it due to the fact that there are about 10,000 people that are retired here and are in need of this type of service such as we’re going to make it available.”

Mr. Lapoureau, a Cuba born exile who spent 40 years in Miami managing hospitals, makes it clear that the nursing home is not a non-profit organization and that “residents will be paying the nominal fee we’ll be charging” but, when profitable, “we will have charity cases.”

Lapoureau came to SMA ten years ago to retire but over time he began noticing the shortage of facilities for the growing number of seniors who need to be taken care of.

“There are about 50 beds available at the most for this type of service in adult care living facilities. And for that matter, the one we are offering is much more advanced from what we normally find in this area.”

The project will be carried out in partnership with Dr. José (Pepe) Valencia, a well-known geriatrician who will be in charge of the medical care of the residents.

Lapoureau studied medical and hospital administration in Miami.

“I lived for 40 years in the United States earning my living by being a hospital administrator and I also had my own clinics (health maintenance organizations) both in South Florida, Miami and Puerto Rico.”

An inevitable question is why if he was already retired, what prompted him to invest in Casa Cieneguita and condition it as full time living center for the elderly.

“While living here I met Dr. Pepe Valencia, a gerontologist, and we discussed the need there was for a facility like the one we’re still putting finishing touches on.”

Two years ago, Lapoureau say, they decided to carry out a feasibility study “and we decided to use this property that we had – with thermal waters – and convert it because it’s the right place with the right type of ambiance.”

The property is in an area famous for its thermal baths and in fact, it was once a public thermal bath during the 40s and 50s. La Cieneguita, in fact, means little swamp. The facility is located across the street from the only church in town.

Another reason for setting up shop, says Pierre Lepoureau, is that though there are several nursing homes in town, their service is sometimes defective due to the lack in general of qualified personnel.

“What we want to bring to San Miguel de Allende is quality. Dr. Valencia says that this place will make the difference because we know this business and we come from the medical field. I have been a medical administrator all my life and he has been a gerontologist all his life, and mainly, we like what we’re doing.”

Lepoureau says he doesn’t mean to criticize the competition but for the most part the existing care centers have been set up by real estate business people who saw the business opportunity.

He says they will be starting small but there is room for growth as this facility will add four more rooms as soon as clientele arrives.

“Growth will depend on the demand we get as time passes but we have a lot of room for expansion.”

As to when will they open up for business, he says “hopefully we’ll be opening up during May, hopefully. We were not supposed to open up in May, but last December and the architect…but that’s another story.”

“We’re ready to open, Dr. Valencia has been training the personnel, we have a cook, a nutritionist, an assistant administrator, so we’re ready to go and we have about eight people whose relatives have shown interest, people with Alzheimer’s, dementia, etcetera, and Dr. Valencia is already treating them as out-patients. Like I said, we’re ready to go.”

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