Throughout 1999, the Masonic Homes of the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania enjoyed many opportunities for growth and the enhancement of services.
The Masonic Homes at Elizabethtown
In January, the Masonic Homes at Elizabethtown achieved a three-year accreditation from the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations for its long-term care, dementia, subacute, outpatient, laboratory, and ambulatory services.
The last 28 of the 100 independent living expansion cottages were completed in February, bringing Elizabeth-town's total number of independent living accommodations to 450, including 334 apartments and 116 cottages offering various styles and payment plans for the members of the Masonic Fraternity and Eastern Star.
The Brossman Pool opened at the Masonic Homes in May, thanks to donor Bro. Jay G. Brossman, Ephrata Lodge No. 665. The pool was officially dedicated in memory of J. Glen Brossman, the donor's son.
In addition, planning and training sessions began in the process of adopting the Eden Alternative philosophy of care at the Masonic Health Care Center and Free-masons Building. The Eden Alternative is a powerful tool for transforming long-term care facilities into human habitats, improving the quality of life for their residents. This philosophy, which has been adopted by long-term care homes across the nation and in other countries, seeks to eliminate the three plagues of the elderly--loneliness, helplessness, and boredom. The Eden Alternative philosophy brings animals, children, and plants into residents' homes. Providing residents with the opportunity to care for other living things and bringing variety and spontaneity into their everyday lives often can succeed where pills and therapies fail. After much education and preparation, the Masonic Homes became a registered Eden Alternative site on November 18.
Last summer, Masonic Homes' financial strength and stable outlook was recognized by Standard & Poor's with an AA- rating, the highest rating for a stand-alone retirement community in the country.
In July, the Respite Cottage in Elizabethtown was approved for residential accommodations for six adults with mild to moderate mental retardation. This portion of the program has been very successful. Two beds remain available to provide short-term respite services to adults with mild to moderate mental retardation. The cottage has seen many repeat guests since its opening in March 1998, and has seen many new faces based on referrals from satisfied customers as well as agency recommendations.
In August, extensive renovations were completed to enhance the Sell Chapel, adding common gathering space and improving accessibility. The new space includes two preparation rooms, rest rooms, a memory garden, and a lobby.
September marked the completion of the Independent Living Clubhouse renovations. This included new finishings on the upper level and the redesign of space to include a larger assembly room, a new lounge, library, and administrative offices. The new café, built on the ground level of the Clubhouse, seats 66 persons and provides a casual dining option for residents, families, and employees.
The Masonic Homes added some new services to enhance the quality of life for residents and family members in 1999. A music therapy program was established in the Masonic Health Care Center and Freemasons Building, and more than 200 residents participated in this new programming each week. The Mourning Star Program, a bereavement program to assist residents, employees, and families in dealing with death, dying, and other losses in their lives, also took off in 1999. Interest in computers and the use of the Internet also became more popular across the campus.
Other programs on campus continued to grow, such as the Outreach Program, the Masonic Life Center (wellness center), and the Renaissance Unit (providing subacute care). The Adult Daily Living Center, which provides adult day care services to adults with physical and/or cognitive impairments, celebrated its fourth anniversary in August.
The Masonic Homes benefitted from resident and community volunteer involvement throughout the year. A total of 205 Independent Living resident volunteers provided 8,550 hours of service in their living areas. Altogether, 171 residents in the Village Green Area, Freemasons Building, and Masonic Health Care Center volunteered 41,555 hours to improve the quality of life for their neighbors. Over the year, 117 new adult volunteers from the community and the independent living areas committed to sharing their time and talents with residents in the Masonic Health Care Center. And, throughout the summer of 1999, 75 teens, ages 13 and older, totaled 3,200 hours of volunteer service to the Masonic Homes.
The Grand Chapter of the Order of Eastern Star continued to raise funds through festivals and auxiliary projects, and generously provided numerous volunteer hours and social opportunities for our residents.
Warminster: Serving in Eastern Pennsylvania
The Masonic Eastern Star Home-East at Warminster continued to provide quality nursing and assisted living services to Masons and Eastern Star members, as well as day-one Medicaid recipients in Philadelphia County. One of the year's highlights was the donation of time and materials by two volunteer groups, Somerton DeMolay and St. John's Chapter of Reading, which turned the Home's courtyard into a lovely garden for the residents to enjoy. A pond with wildlife and bird feeders made the area a focus year-round.
Pittsburgh and Sewickley: Working Together to Provide a Continuum of Services In Western Pennsylvania
On June 1, the Valley Care Nursing Home in Sewickley, renamed the Valley Care Masonic Center, became part of the continuum of care provided by the Masonic Homes. With this 128-bed nursing facility being less than eight miles from the Masonic Eastern Star Home-West's assisted living accommodations, the two homes began to work together to provide a continuum of services for our residents at the two locations. The master plan to build the Valley Care Masonic Center campus into a continuing care retirement community was approved by the Committee on Masonic Homes on September 23. Pending approval by various governmental authorities, 60 assisted living services will be offered in Sewickley by fall 2001, and up to 263 independent living accommodations by fall 2002, depending upon interest. The residents, staff, and mission of the Masonic Eastern Star Home-West will transfer to the Sewickley facility once the assisted living accommodations open for residents. The Sewickley community will become known as the Masonic Village at Sewickley.
The Masonic Eastern Star Home-West at Pittsburgh now focuses its services toward assisted living. Residents continued to enjoy a calendar filled with new types of entertainment, and began working with staff to implement the Eden Alternative philosophy within their home.
Looking Ahead: 2000 and Beyond
With the progress made in 1999, the Masonic Homes expects to enjoy continued growth in the years to come.
Full implementation of the Eden Alternative process is expected to come to fruition in Elizabethtown by fall of 2000. Because this philosophy inherently fits the Masonic Homes' "Mission of Love," the Pittsburgh, Sewickley, and Warminster homes will work toward adopting the Eden Alternative in the near future.
The Masonic Homes began the process of modernizing, improving, and expanding the services in the Village Green Area during the fall of 1999, for completion expected early in 2001.
Gift for the Masonic Children's Home
Bro. Jack Harding made 1999 a special year for the Masonic Children's Home when he provided a gift of his 57-acre property in Sugar Run, PA, to be used as a summer camp for the children. Click here to see an article in the PA Freemason.