Within months of her planned retirement from Clatsop Care Center, Anita Schacher took home boxes of pictures and newspaper clippings about the health district that she planned to organize into scrapbooks.

Although there wasn’t much time, Schacher, CEO and nursing home administrator, decided it needed to be a book to preserve the history — and it needed to be completed before she retired.

“Clatsop Care Center Health District: A Work of Heart” was published in time for her Aug. 16 retirement celebration at the McTavish Room in the Liberty Theater. Schacher said about half of the 100 copies she had printed have already been sold, with all proceeds going toward the Clatsop Care’s Foundation.

She wrote the book in the hopes of preserving the district’s history and describing the significant role it plays as a stand-alone health district in Oregon.

“We’re pretty unique,” Schacher said. “We were formed because of the community support, and we survived because of the community support.”

The history

The first resident was admitted to the care center in October 1979. But it took an engaged community to ensure a long-term facility for the elderly remained. Columbia Memorial Hospital constructed its new location in 1977 and indicated it would no longer have long-term beds. Schacher writes that more than 500 people showed up for a meeting to decide how to proceed with purchasing the old hospital building at 16th Street and Franklin Avenue.

The idea for a health district was floated by then publisher and editor of The Daily Astorian, J.W. (“Bud”) Forrester, Schacher writes. It was a bumpy public process, but the district was established by voters 3-1 in favor in March 1978.

Schacher began as a consultant with the district in 1981, then was hired as the social services director and activities consultant in 1983. After working as a nursing home administrator in the 1990s, Schacher accepted the CEO position at the center in 1999.

In 1995, the district began having permanent tax support. “I don’t think we could have survived,” she said, about if they didn’t have that revenue. “We were really surprised when they passed it. That’s really been important to our survival. With that extra income, we can do the extras, which make us a better nursing home.”

With 50 years in long-term care, Schacher wanted to preserve and tell the personal stories of patients she had the pleasure of meeting. When she began to approach retirement, she started compiling what she thought would be her first book.

But the scrapbooks refocused her attention as a writer. “I thought, you know, I have a lot of knowledge that somebody else is not going to have,” she said. “It was like, ‘Why don’t I write a book?’” The book of personal stories was cast aside for the time being and for four months she researched and wrote the short, yet complex, history of the health district.

Editing help

Schacher took home big notebooks of board minutes and poured over events in the district’s history. Other information came from newspaper articles in The Daily Astorian and her firsthand knowledge as an administrator.

Her editor, Jan Bono, initially critiqued Schacher’s work as having the feel of a report. Schacher had been writing in that mode at work for the past 30 years, but writing creatively wasn’t unfamiliar to her and she just had to switch.

“She really pushed me to get out of report writing mode and be creative,” Schacher said about Bono.

Her second book, “You Forgot to Shut The Gate,” is being published. The book is of personal stories scattered throughout her career that began as a nurses’ aide with Providence Benedictine Nursing Center in Mount Angel.

One story, the origin of the book’s title, involves a bucolic memory a patient suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. The patient and his wife were both being cared for by Schacher. One night, as Schacher tried to coax him into bed, he revealed why he couldn’t.

“He looks at me and says, ‘I can’t go to bed until we put the pigs in,” she said. Schacher went along and as she left the room, he told her, “You forgot to shut the gate.” The book is scheduled to be out in mid-October.

Other books

Schacher has other books in the works as well, including one tentatively titled “Mom’s Minestrone.” The book, she said, is for her kids, with poems, prayers and stories. She also is planning a historical fiction book set in Valsetz. The town, which no longer exists, was west of Salem and formed by a timber company. Schacher grew up there and had the same eight classmates through the 12th grade.

Schacher is compiling policies for Nicole Williams, who will succeed her as CEO after Sept. 30, and will help train her. Schacher is also acting as a liaison for the development of a 32-unit facility that will focus on memory care. “I kind of have a vision for what I want that to be and not an institution, but a home that supports families and residents,” she said.

Her book about Clatsop Care is being sold at the Clatop Care’s main office at 646 16th St., in Astoria.


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