February 28, 2018

Masonicare, Hebrew Senior Care form senior-based hospital alliance

HBJ PHOTO | JOHN STEARNS
HBJ PHOTO | JOHN STEARNS
Hebrew Senior Care executives Madelene Francese, vice president of marketing and development, and Gary Jones, interim president and CEO, are shown Tuesday next to a display inside The Hospital at Hebrew Senior Care identifying the facility's 116-year history and key donors.
Submitted photo
Ann Collette, vice president of strategy for Masonicare.

Two longtime nonprofit operators of inpatient acute care hospitals for seniors have formed what they say is Connecticut's first alliance of senior-focused hospitals to heighten public awareness of their services and cost benefits statewide, and to share data and resources.

The Connecticut Senior Hospital Alliance comprises Wallingford-based Masonicare Health Care and West Hartford-based Hebrew Senior Care. Each will continue to operate independently, but officials hope working together to broadcast their senior-focused mission, combining Masonicare's 123 years in senior care with Hebrew's 116 years, will benefit each.

"That's a lot of experience to pull together," said Ann Collette, vice president of strategy for Masonicare, who's credited with envisioning the alliance shortly after joining Masonicare a year ago from Apple Rehab, where she had spent the previous nine years as vice president of business development.

Collette saw an opportunity to bring her for-profit thought processes to a nonprofit setting and saw the alliance as making perfect sense at a time when hospitals throughout the country are partnering. Thinking smarter together can help sustain both, she said in an interview Tuesday.

The two hospitals are different from traditional hospitals with emergency rooms in that they don't treat acute emergencies like heart attacks or life-threatening illnesses nor do surgeries. But seniors don't need to go to an ER for many conditions common to their age group, including congestive heart failure, pneumonia, COPD, chronic pain, dehydration, urinary tract infections and delirium, Collette said.

Bypassing traditional ERs for such ailments and instead getting direct, no-wait admission to Masonicare or Hebrew Senior Care saves seniors time, money and confusion and offers them a care environment tailored to their age group, she said.

"The hospitals out there are doing a fantastic job, but we're trying to do for senior care what the pediatric hospitals have done for children," Collette said, noting that geriatrics, like pediatrics, is a specialty.

Gary Jones, interim president and CEO of Hebrew Senior Care, added, "We don't try to be all things to all people. Our target audience is limited to seniors."

That extends beyond the hospitals' immediate care to ensuring follow-up and transitional care upon discharge is seamless and appropriate, Jones said during a joint interview with Madelene Francese, vice president of marketing and development at Hebrew Senior Care.

"We are in a much better position to deal with family members, to deal with patients," Jones said, adding the alliance "seemed like a natural for both sides."

Francese said the timing is right for such an alliance, which gives aging consumers what they've come to expect.

"Its time has come," she said. "It's the bookend to pediatrics. It's really the same concept," specialty care for a specialty age group.

Masonicare's acute senior care hospital unit offers 30 medical beds and 29 behavioral health inpatient beds. Hebrew Senior Care offers 23 medical beds and 22 behavioral health inpatient beds.

Hebrew Senior Care operates under the same roof as The Hebrew Center for Health and Rehabilitation, but the two are separate entities. The latter is a for-profit skilled nursing facility owned by National Health Care Associates Inc. Hebrew Senior Care is a new name, rebranded from Hebrew HealthCare, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2016 and emerged last summer with its new structure and name.

Hebrew Senior Care includes The Hospital at Hebrew Senior Care; Hoffman SummerWood assisted living community, Assisted Living Services Agency, Senior Day Center, Connecticut Geriatric Specialty Group and Outpatient Dementia Care Services.

Masonicare – which says it's the state's largest provider of senior health care, senior living, homecare and hospice – includes its senior acute care hospital; a 375-bed nursing home in Wallingford; a 54-bed skilled-nursing facility and a 56-unit senior-housing facility in Newtown that Masonicare plans to sell; an independent-living, assisted-living and assisted-living memory care facility in Mystic; Chester Village, an independent and assisted-living complex off Route 9 in Chester with 105 apartment and townhome units that Masonicare purchased in December; and parcels in Mansfield and Oxford for future expansion, plus branches and services statewide.

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