Construction will begin this spring on the $4.5 million geriatric and psychiatric care center that Tucson Medical Center and the Handmaker Foundation are teaming up to build.

A celebration of the groundbreaking is set for April 11.

Construction is expected to take 12 to 18 months, said Howard Paley, chief development officer of the Handmaker Foundation.

The Paul and Lydia Kalmanovitz Elder Care Center will be built at 2221 N. Rosemont Blvd., alongside Handmaker Jewish Services for the Aging.

The center will consist of two floors with 36 total beds. The first floor, with 20 beds, will be managed by Handmaker and will be a long-term-care facility focusing on patients with dementia and Alzheimer's disease. The second floor, with 16 beds, will be licensed by TMC and will be available to geriatric patients and patients with psychiatric needs.

The building will be constructed at the site that currently houses administration buildings, Paley said. Demolition of the administration buildings will be the first step in the construction.

The contractor is W.E. O'Neil Construction, and the architect is Frank Mascia of Tucson's CDG Architects.

The Handmaker Foundation and Tucson Medical Center received a $3 million challenge grant from the Kalmanovitz Foundation of San Francisco for construction of the new geriatrics center.

The other $1.5 million was raised by the Handmaker Foundation.

The Kalmanovitz Foundation's bylaws say the grant money had to be donated to a medical center. That is where the partnership with TMC comes in, said Arthur Martin, president and CEO of Handmaker Jewish Services for the Aging.

"The benefits of the partnership were undeniable," Martin said.

Martin said the center will begin hiring medical staff members in 2014 and expects to generate approximately 30 high-paying jobs.

He said that unfortunately, dementia care is a fast-growing field. As the baby boomer generation is aging, the need for geriatric care is growing.

"Specifically there is no other place like this. It fills a void for dementia care for our community," Paley said.

Martin said patients will be able to pay for services using Medicaid, HMOs and private payers.

The Handmaker Foundation is the fundraising portion of Handmaker Jewish Services for the Aging, a nonprofit organization that provides services for seniors.

By the numbers

$4.5 million

Project cost


Total square footage

36 beds, 2 floors

Number of beds


A "virtual" groundbreaking celebration will be held April 11 at 7 p.m. at 2221 N. Rosemont Blvd. Guests are asked to RSVP at The event, including champagne, coffee, gourmet desserts and more, costs $36 per person. All attendees will receive a signed copy of the novel "Into the Fog," which is about what it is like to live with Alzheimer's. Its author, Denise Camille Frye, will speak at the event.

Ashley Grove is a NASA Space Grant intern at the University of Arizona. Contact her at or 573-4674.