New senior homes in Aliquippa project

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Think of it as a fraternity house for senior citizens.

Lutheran SeniorLife and Heritage Valley Health System have partnered to build communal homes for senior citizens complete with health care staff.

The project is part of a national program called "The Green House," an effort to create home-like environments for senior citizens.

"At Lutheran SeniorLife, we are committed to helping seniors live more enriched lives," said David Fenoglietto, president and CEO of Lutheran SeniorLife. "As part of this mission, we want seniors to live in homes, not 'home-like' institutions."

Lutheran SeniorLife is one of the largest faith-based, nonprofit providers of long-term care services in Western Pennsylvania, Mr. Fenoglietto said.

The new homes will be 7,000 square-foot ranch-style, self-contained residences with 10 bedrooms, each with a private bath, for seniors who need skilled care. The homes will have a great room with a living room, dining room, country kitchen, sun room and fireplace. Each home will be fully staffed with nursing and household staff.

"The Green House" is creating a new, innovative way for seniors to live. They are meant to be part of a community and allow seniors to feel like part of that community," he said.

The homes will be built on 24 acres at the site of the former Aliquippa Community Hospital. The hospital was razed and the land sat vacant until Charles J. Betters, chief executive officer of C.J. Betters Enterprises, donated it for the project.

"He approached us and asked us if we had any visions for the use of that land," Mr. Fenoglietto said.

Since Heritage Valley and Lutheran SeniorLife already had a successful partnership in providing healthcare for seniors through their Living Independently for the Elderly Beaver County program, they felt it would be a natural extension of that relationship, said Daniel Murphy, vice president of institutional advancement for Heritage Valley.

According to Mr. Murphy, this project is the first in the country to link a Life program or Program for All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly with The Green House model.

"This is a way for us to continue to serve our elderly in a contemporary, progressive method," Mr. Murphy said.

The initial project will consist of four 10-bedroom homes. Mr. Fenoglietto said they plan to break ground on the $6.5 million project in the next 90 days. The estimated completion date if fall of 2014. The project will create at least 40 new jobs, he said.

The style of the residences will allow seniors to reserve their independence while allowing them to receive necessary nursing care, explained Mr. Fenoglietto. Residents can participate in activities such as the cooking and socialize.

"Since they will spend more time with the staff, they will have the opportunity to develop deeper relationships. Instead of meals being prepared and presented to them, they can sit in front of the fireplace in the communal living room and talk with the staff as they prepare the meals," he said.

"This is about changing the culture of how we serve our seniors. We are hoping that this serves as a pilot project for others," Mr. Fenoglietto said.

neigh_west

Kathleen Ganster, freelance writer: suburbanliving@post-gazette.com.


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