During 1998, the Masonic Homes of the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania expanded its continuum of quality care services, as well as the locations in which the services are available. Through the affiliation of the Masonic Homes of the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania with the two Eastern Star homes, now the Masonic Eastern Star Home-East in Warminster and the Masonic Eastern Star Home-West in Pittsburgh, the membership has gained more choices. This venture expanded the Masonic Homes family in that more individuals can now choose to receive services in their preferred area of the Commonwealth.
At the time of the affiliation, both Eastern Star facilities were between 60 and 65 percent occupied. One of the highlights of 1998 was achieving more than 90 percent occupancy at both facilities. In October 1998, an agreement with the Department of Public Welfare was signed to provide Medical Assistance at the Masonic Eastern Star Home-East.
Other notable achievements during 1998 included the completion of the last renovated Independent Living apartments as well as the first phase of the Independent Living Cottage Construction Project. As of December 31, 1998, 523 residents occupied 363 Independent Living units on the Masonic Homes' campus.
The Joint Commission for Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) came for an accreditation survey in November, and the Masonic Homes scored well: Ambulatory Care, 92%; Long-term Care, 94%; Subacute, 96%; and Laboratory, 98%. The survey team was impressed with Masonic Homes' process improvements, and granted the Masonic Homes accreditation for the above service areas.
The completion of the 10-year construction/renovation of the Masonic Health Care Center was met with much enthusiasm. The new Freemasons Building opened for residents on May 18, 1998, providing 127 beds for assisted living services. This was the last phase of the Masonic Health Care Center Project, which involved completely renovating the Masons Care Building to provide Assisted Living Services in this area. Residents in this area receive services and assistance in areas of dressing, bathing, diet, financial management, medication, and other activities of daily living.
The renovation of the Masonic Conference Center Memorial Hall building and the addition of the new Samuel C. Williamson Multimedia Center allow for more flexibility of programming. The Masonic Homes' mission is extended through the use of the Masonic Conference Center by the Pennsylvania Youth Foundation and The Pennsylvania Masonic Foundation for Children.
The Masonic Homes opened its new Respite Cottage in March 1998 to serve our members and the community. This not-for-profit program offers quality, short-term respite services to caregivers, enabling them to have time away from their responsibilities and enhancing their quality of life. The Respite Cottage accommodates up to eight adult guests, ages 18 and over, diagnosed with mild to moderate mental retardation and/or similar developmental challenges.
Another exciting addition to the Masonic Homes was the Masonic Life Center in May 1998. The center provides residents, volunteers, employees and their spouses, and retirees and their spouses, the opportunity to participate in state-of-the-art wellness and fitness programs. Located on the terrace level of the Freemasons Building, the center is equipped with aerobic and strength building equipment, a conference area, and men's and women's locker rooms with showers. Three full-time professional instructors organize and oversee group fitness classes in various areas on campus and provide wellness workshops, seminars and information on a variety of topics related to the mind, body, and spirit connection.
Masonic Homes' Adult Daily Living Center continues to provide a quality, cost-effective adult day care service to our community. The center assists clients, who in some cases would otherwise require nursing facility care, to stay more independent and at home with their loved ones. The center has expanded its service base to include mentally retarded clients who will fit into the current programming, along with the aged clients. An additional license was secured this year from the Bureau of Mental Retardation, Department of Public Welfare, that allows the center the opportunity to accept clients served by this bureau.
The Outreach Program provides education, information, and direction to Masonic and non-Masonic families across the United States. Information and referral services help locate service agencies, nursing homes, transportation services, hot meals, and health providers. Representatives for the Outreach Program attended the Grand Master's Reunion in Florida, which provided the opportunity to expand contacts and serve a greater portion of the Masonic family that lives or spends time there. The Outreach Director also addressed the brethren and/or their families in nine Blue Lodges in 1998 and sponsored a Community Health Night with Abraham C. Treichler Lodge No. 682 in Elizabethtown, providing education and information to more than 100 members of our local community.
The Masonic Homes recognizes and encourages both community and resident participation in its Volunteer Services Department. Volunteers enhance the professional staff as they provide assistance and support in services which directly benefit our residents.
The summer youth volunteer program provided 64 teens who provided 3,200 hours of service, mostly on resident care units.
The total number of new volunteers during 1998, including youth, college interns, and all others, was 108.
The Masonic Children's Home cares for those children from families in which the parent/guardian can no longer cope with the complexities of child rearing. The home's population during 1998 averaged at its capacity of 40 children. By providing a modern, attractive and homelike environment for the care of these young people, Freemasons are preparing them to be productive citizens of the future. The children attend public schools and are encouraged to participate in extracurricular activities and the religious institution of their choice.
The list of youth program activities continues to grow, giving each child the opportunity to experience a well-rounded variety of activities. These include school activities, sports, clubs, crafts, intergenerational and community activities, group vacations, summer camps, Demolay, D.A.R.E. program activities, volunteering, working, Boy Scouts, Brownies, music lessons, philanthropic projects, alumni activities, and the college intern and mentoring programs.
The Masonic Homes-Patton School Alumni Association continues to provide support to the program through scholarships to the Children's Home graduates attending college.
A resident enjoying a fun-filled and successful day of fishing in one of the beautiful ponds on the campus at Elizabethtown.
The Recreation Services Department provides a full calendar of one-on-one and group activities for residents. The certified staff is creative and enthusiastic with the goal of enhancing the residents quality of life.
Tours of the Model Railroad Club collections and displays are enjoyed by many visitors. A group of residents who share a common interest of collecting and displaying model railroads have joined together to form the Masonic Homes and Elizabethtown Model Railroad Club. The purpose of the club is to develop, build, and operate model railroads and related scenery.