Mala Strana celebrates 50th anniversary

By: 
Patrick Fisher, pfisher@newpraguetimes.com

Many people attended Mala Strana Rehabilitation Center’s celebration of its 50th anniversary on Monday, Sept. 19. People spoke about the nursing home and rehabilitation center’s founding. There was also music, treats and prizes. (Patrick Fisher photo)

Mala Strana Rehabilitation Center in New Prague celebrated its 50th anniversary on Monday, Sept. 19, from 3-6 p.m. with treats, refreshments, games, music from Bob Pexa and Lenny Smisek and live broadcasts from local radio station KCHK. There were also special speakers from the community who shared memories of the nursing home along Columbus Avenue N.

Among those who spoke was Tom Topka, who with his late brother-in-law BJ Novotny, began the project to build Mala Strana. “It was BJ’s idea,” remembered Topka. “His mom was in a nursing home in the area and he was not satisfied with the care she was getting. He thought there should be a nursing home in New Prague.” The two of them began work on the project, buying farm land from Emil Kubes Sr. He told them they had to buy the entire 80 acres. Part of the property became Mala Strana, another portion had Liberty Park Apartments and senior community built on it. “We thought it was an ideal location,” said Topka.

At that time the nursing home was just outside of town. As a health care facility they had to work with the state health department, plus other branches of the state and federal government, and Scott County. There was also work with the New Prague City Council to bring the property into the city. “It turned out okay,” said Topka. At the the time Mala Strana was a 120 bed facility and before it could open it needed 120 residents. Topka noted that as a nursing home it needed staff there 24 hours a day. It also needed two levels of care, skilled and intermediate. When many residents came in they started at the lower level of care and needed the higher level of care as they grew older. “I am very proud of how we worked together to get it started and see how it’s expanded,” said Topka. “It’s a wonderful thing to have for folks in the area.”

A staff member who came for the celebration was Jackie Henle of rural New Prague. She was employed at Mala Strana from 1973 to 1995. She started as a volunteer, then worked part time in activities, then office work and ended her career at Mala..

To see more on this story pick up the September 22, 2022 print edition of The New Prague Times. 

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