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Once an Army nurse’s last, best mission, Cottesmore turns 50

Cottesmore of Life Care celebrated its 50th anniversary last week. The Gig Harbor care facility was founded by Inez Glass, a former Army nurse, who named it after the air base in England where she served during World War II.
Cottesmore of Life Care celebrated its 50th anniversary last week. The Gig Harbor care facility was founded by Inez Glass, a former Army nurse, who named it after the air base in England where she served during World War II. Courtesy

In 1969, a former Army nurse named Inez Glass opened a modest nursing home in Gig Harbor. She called it Cottesmore, after the air base in England where she had served during World War II.

Last week, Cottesmore, now a multi-milllon-dollar skilled nursing and rehabilitation facility — and a center of the Gig Harbor community — celebrated its 50th anniversary.

“We’ve grown much bigger, but we still try to carry on as Inez would have wanted,” said Jodi Davis, the center’s community liaison. “She was very loving, very special, very into religious faith.”

The rehab facility is now the centerpiece of a sprawling campus that includes assisted and independent living apartments, as well as long-term care. Since 1996, the complex has been part of Life Care Centers of America, based in Cleveland, Tenn., a large provider which operates more than 200 skilled nursing, rehabilitation and senior centers in 28 states.

But, as some of its longtime staff still remember, Cottesmore started with a single nurse.

Inez Leland Glass joined the Army Nurse Corps in 1943, serving most of the war at Cottesmore, an RAF base in Rutland, a county in the East Midlands of England. There she met her future husband, Eugene Glass.

Cottesmore served as a base for C-47 and C-53 transports, frequently used to fly wounded U.S. soldiers back from the front. Glass flew on many of these flights, and received battle stars for service in Normandy, Germany, Northern France and the Ardennes and Rhineland campaigns.

After the war, the couple settled in Tacoma, where Glass worked as a nurse. Left a widow with children when Eugene died, she opened Cottesmore to earn a living, but it soon became a mission for her, according to her obituary.

“We did it for the Lord,” she told her staff, who referred to her as “Mom Glass.”

Today, Cottesmore, at 2909 14th Ave., provides outpatient care for persons recovering from operations and illness, as well as long-term care for inpatients. The main facility has 108 beds and 50 private suites.

“We have about 45 long-term residents, ranging from people in their 50s all the way up to 100-year-olds,” said Davis.

But a growing part of Cottesmore’s mission, she said, Is transitional care for people, aged or not, who are recovering from surgery or critical illness and need physical therapy.

“It’s not like the old days, when you were just keeping people comfortable,” she said. “Today, we receive very high acuity patients from hospitals who need continuous care and extensive therapy.”

The facility’s staff of about 200 includes physical and speech therapists, as well as licensed practical nurses and skilled nurse practitioners. A doctor visits daily.

Cottesmore has what she called a “state-of-the-art” gym for physical therapy, including an air-flotation chamber that allows people who cannot walk unassisted to exercise their legs.

“The patients love it,” Davis said. “It’s pretty exciting for somebody who hasn’t walked in a long time. It’s like you’re floating in space.”

Last year, Cottesmore added a new wing, featuring 13 private suites with their own showers, six shared rooms, a spa, an activity room and a rehab dining room.

The facility shares a campus with Harbor Place at Cottesmore, an assisted-living community for seniors. A large meeting room is used for community events.

“Rotary and the Gig Harbor Chamber of Commerce meet here weekly,” Davis said.

When the nursing home was sold to Life Care of America in 1996, Inez Glass stayed on as volunteer coordinator, and later as a resident. She died in 2015 at the age of 93.

Even after 50 years, Cottesmore continues to look to its founder for inspiration, Davis said.

“One of the things we strive for is to treat our patients as Inez would have,” she said.

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