by Joan Tupponce
The Rev. Kenneth Dupin, the founder of Salem-based N2Care, had expected his company to sell about 100 modular medical homes in its first year of production. Now, he believes that number is far too conservative.
“We could do that the first day,” he says, noting that after an article appeared in The Washington Post in May, N2Care’s website got 400,000 hits in 10 days. “We had to change our web server because it went down so many times.”
Dupin, the pastor of Salem Wesleyan Church, isn’t surprised that his MEDCottage concept resonates with families who have aging relatives. The 12-by-24-foot portable home allows families to care for an aging family member on their own property, pushing back the need for a long-term-care facility. The units are priced at $65,000 to $75,000. N2Care also plans to lease MEDCottages for $1,500 to $2,000 a month.
MEDCottage comes equipped with technology to monitor vital signs and filter the air for contaminants. It also has sensors that can alert caregivers if their relative has a fall.
Dupin has found that end-of-life care is a real concern for the baby-boomer generation. “They have a fear of being isolated from family and institutionalized in the final stage of life,” he observes. “MEDCottage won’t do away with nursing homes, but it will extend a person’s independence for one or two years, and it involves the family in the process.”
Knowing that families could face zoning hurdles in putting a MEDCottage in their backyards, Dupin talked with Republican Del. Morgan Griffith of Salem, the House majority leader. Griffith sponsored House Bill 1307, which enables families to place temporary units on their property without special-use permits. Gov. Bob McDonnell signed the bill into law in April. “We wanted to create something at the state level to put [MEDCottage] in any zoning area,” Dupin says.
In August, Dupin brought in a consulting company, Virginia Tech Growth Partners, to restructure the company. “The demand is huge,” he says, noting that he is now taking reservations for homes from 67 countries. “We are ramping up to deal with the interest.”
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