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The Baby Boom generation isn’t just marching into retirement — they’re positively surging into their senior years, with some 10,000 Americans reaching age 65 each day.

Yet, despite the fact that senior-living communities have become increasingly modernized, specialized, and resident-focused, nearly 90% of seniors want to stay in their own homes as they age, according to the American Assoc. of Retired Persons.

And technology is helping them do just that — everything from home-monitoring devices to GPS trackers (for loved ones with dementia); from medication reminders to automatic stove turn-offs, and more . All of it is intended to lend both security to seniors living alone and peace of mind to their loved ones.

Older Americans welcome the trend — according to the AARP survey, even if they begin to need day-to-day assistance or ongoing healthcare during retirement, 82% would still prefer to stay in their own homes. Yet, the stereotype often lingers of seniors being technophobes averse to change.

“Many Boomers disagree with that statement, finding it insulting or pessimistic or both,” writes Laurie Orlov, principal analyst for Aging in Place Technology Watch, a market-research organization that provides analysis and guidance about technologies and services that enable seniors to remain longer in their home of choice. “They will repeat plaintively that Baby Boomers are very different than their parents’ generation. They are comfortable with technology. See how many have smartphones — they text, use Facebook and YouTube. Many book travel online, read Trip-Advisor reviews, and even call for car pickups with an app.”

So why not embrace technology meant to improve quality of life and — just as important — independence? Especially, Orlov noted, when there are so many options, from a simple door sensor or a sophisticated whole-home automation and security system.

In the case of the former, simple technology can have profound results. “If an older adult is alone at home, enters a room, and does not return past the sensor, an alert is sent to a family member or other predefined organization, thus enabling an attempt to contact the older adult, and, if no answer, to dispatch help.”

Rachel Walker, an assistant professor in the UMass Amherst College of Nursing, has focused much of her research on addressing health disparities and the care of older adults with cancer and other serious illnesses. She’s also on the faculty for the Center for Personalized Health Monitoring (CPHM), one of three centers that make up the Institute for Applied Life Sciences at UMass Amherst, one that aims to accelerate the development and commercialization of low-cost, wearable, wireless sensor systems for personalized healthcare and biometric monitoring — but always with a focus on the human side of care.

“Oftentimes in the national news, there’s a lot of focus on the technologies — things like wearable sensors and home health monitors,” she explained. “A lot of clinicians and practitioners like myself work with individuals out in the community who experience these health challenges as they age, and there aren’t too many places that merge those two ends of the spectrum.”

Through the Wires

One reason technology isn’t an end-all, Walker said, is because, while 90% of older adults prefer to stay in place, it’s a bigger challenge in the more rural areas of Western Mass., where people may not have access to broadband and high-speed wireless service.

“That’s a sticky wicket. We’re embracing technology more and more, in this digital arena where people also expect to access their health record [electronically]; all these things are on the horizon, but we have whole communities in this region that have yet to get high-speed access.

“The team I work with, we would like to develop solutions that put control back in the hands of actual individuals and their caregivers,” she went on, adding that they’re using grant funds to develop a home-assessment tool that’s compatible with people’s smartphones. “Most users, even in places without high-speed wireless, have access to smartphones.”

Susan Keel, an aging-in-place specialist, recently told HGTV that a robust whole-home security system can be installed for the same cost as one month in an assisted-living facility. “With a system like this, you can remotely log in on a smartphone or the Internet, and, via the devices connected to the system, monitor your loved one’s activities.”

On a smaller scale, Orlov said personal emergency-response systems — wearable devices that can be used to alert outsiders of a health emergency or fall — is currently a $3 billion market that has evolved only slightly from its origins. But one important advance has been their use outside the home.

“The ‘I’ve fallen’ message is still inspiring families and seniors to acquire one. But 30% of the market’s sales are for mobile devices. This makes sense in this time of substantial life expectancy at age 65, when 46% of women aged 75+ live alone,” she notes. “Mobility demands mobile devices, which in turn boost confidence to be out and about. Consider walking the dog — since one-third of the 65+ population has one.”

The Center for Personalized Health Monitoring consolidates expertise from polymer science and engineering, computer science, kinesiology, and neuroscience as well as from other departments and collaborators, such as the UMass Medical School and industry, to develop solutions that consider the whole person, not just technology, Walker told BusinessWest.

For example, “we’re trying to better understand what specific exercises older adults can do to improve their lower-extremity balance and strength, so they don’t have as much risk for falls,” she explained.

At the same time, however, “we’re working on home sensor networks to determine how people are using the space, so we can optimize their environment. We’ve also focused on some of the data-security problems, to make sure information is kept secure from hackers.”

In short, Walker said, there’s plenty of room for technology to help people understand their environment and manage chronic conditions and symptoms, such as fatigue and sleep impairments that, if not addressed over time, can wear the body down and lead to other types of disability. “We try to avoid that so people can stay in their homes as long as possible as they continue to age.”

Human Touch

As amazing as it is, technology doesn’t have all the answers, writes elder-care specialist Michelle Seitzer at Care.com.

“It should never be used to supplement actual caregiving — only enhance it. Certain situations may require a caregiver’s assistance or physical presence (be it a family member, neighbor, or a senior-care aide) for a few hours a week, overnight, or most of the day.

“There may also come a time when it’s just not safe for your loved one to stay home — no matter how many webcams you install,” she continues. “If a senior doesn’t answer the phone, seems withdrawn, falls frequently, misses medications, or wanders off regularly, you may need to look beyond technology. Think about options like hiring a home-care aide or finding senior housing. Figure out what works best for your loved one and the situation, and be open to changes along the way.”

Walker said her team at UMass focuses on concepts of dignity, capability, and healthcare equity in the senior years, and not on technology for its own sake.

“Any time we start a new project, we ask if there is really a need for this technology or new device. Are we building something people really need? Secondly, how will it fit into the life of the person it’s designed for? Also, who’s been left out? A lot of technology is built for the upper middle class, and that’s certainly a need, but we need to make sure what we’re building doesn’t systematically exclude certain individuals like rural residents, with no high-speed wireless access.”

Then there are unintended consequences. “Are we making someone reliant on a device, so if something breaks on the device, they’re left without a safety net to get their needs met?”

It’s an important question to keep in mind as the worlds of elder care and technology continue to cross-fertilize in new, intriguing ways.

Joseph Bednar can be reached at [email protected]

Agenda Departments

Women’s Fund Mentor Match
Jan. 13: January is National Mentoring Month, and the Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts (WFWM) announced its second annual Mentor Match, a networking event that aims to engage emerging leaders with seasoned professionals. The event will take place from 1 to 3 p.m. at the UMass Center at Springfield, and is open to the public. Featuring Bay Path University Professor Janine Fondon, WFWM board and committee members, participants and alumni of the Women’s Fund’s Leadership Institute for Political and Public Impact (LIPPI), and community members, the Mentor Match is designed to connect members of the Women’s Fund family as mentors and mentees to share resources, experiences, and work together in order to achieve professional and personal goals. All members of the Women’s Fund community are invited to attend. RSVP by Jan. 10 by visiting www.mywomensfund.org/event/mentor-match.

Pet CPR, First Aid Course
Jan. 14, 21: Many people remember learning CPR and basic first aid in health class, but have you thought about taking a course which covers this topic as it relates to your pet? Jim Helems of Pet Tech has made it easier for pet owners to understand first aid with his PetSaver Training class. He travels throughout the Pioneer Valley offering this training, and next month he will offer this course at the Good Dog Spot. Pet Tech’s trainings have helped save the lives of thousands of pets. Participants will receive a certificate upon completion of the one-day course. The cost is $120 and will take place at the Chicopee location (35 C Chicopee St.) on Sunday, Jan. 14 and at the Northampton location (139 King St.) on Sunday, Jan. 21. Interested participants can register by visiting www.gooddogspot.net.

Caregiver Options Workshop
Jan. 17: Linda Manor Assisted Living in Leeds will host a seminar on caring for an aging relative or spouse, featuring expert advice from Sheryl Fappiano, a professional geriatric care manager. The session is scheduled for 5:30 p.m., and will include dinner. To RSVP, call Linda Manor Assisted Living at (413) 588-3301. Fappiano is a licensed social worker specializing in gerontology. She has worked for more than 35 years in a variety of settings all relating to geriatrics. Her team’s specialty is to help seniors age in place, with dignity and peace of mind for the elder and their family. She is affiliated with Elder Care Access, LLC in Florence and owns Golden Moments Adult Day Health Spa in Florence.

Equal Pay Act Roundtable
Jan. 18: The Massachusetts Equal Pay Act has been amended, and new provisions will begin on July 1. Attorney Timothy Netkovick will discuss the new provisions, its impact on employers, and discuss how employers can take advantage of the safe-harbor provisions from 8 to 9 a.m. at Royal, P.C., 270 Pleasant St., Northampton. The amendments present several substantive changes to multiple definitions in the Equal Pay Act, such as employer defenses, comparable work, statute of limitations, and salary-history inquiries. The new provisions provide employers with safe-harbor provisions if the employer takes affirmative steps within the previous three years and prior to the filing of a lawsuit. The cost is $30 per person. Checks may be made payable to Royal, P.C. and mailed to 270 Pleasant Street, Northampton, MA 01060. Advance registration is required, and seating is limited. Contact Heather Loges at [email protected] to register, or if you have any questions about this workshop.

40 Under Forty Nomination Deadline
Feb. 16: BusinessWest magazine will accept nominations for the 40 Under Forty Class of 2017 through the end of the work day (5 p.m.) on Friday, Feb 16. The annual program, now in its 12th year, recognizes rising stars within the Western Mass. community, which includes Berkshire, Franklin, Hampden, and Hampshire counties. This year’s group of 40 will be profiled in the magazine’s April 30 edition, then toasted at the June 21 gala at the Log Cabin Banquet & Meeting House in Holyoke (see below). The nomination form, which can be found HERE, requests basic information and can be supported with other material, such as a résumé, testimonials, and even press clippings highlighting an individual’s achievements in their profession or service to their community.

Difference Makers
March 22: The 10th annual Difference Makers award program, staged by BusinessWest, will be held at the Log Cabin Banquet & Meeting House. The winners will be announced and profiled in the Jan. 22 issue. Difference Makers is a program, launched in 2009, that recognizes groups and individuals that are, as the name suggests, making a difference in this region. Tickets to the event cost $75 per person, with tables of 10 available. To order, call (413) 781-8600, ext. 100 or visit HERE. Sponsors to date include Sunshine Village and Royal, P.C. Sponsorship opportunities are still available by calling (413) 781-8600, ext. 100.

40 Under Forty Gala
June 21: BusinessWest’s 12th annual 40 Under Forty Gala is a celebration of 40 young business and civic leaders in Western Mass. The lavish cocktail party, to be held starting at 5:30 p.m. at the Log Cabin in Holyoke, will feature butlered hors d’oeuvres, food stations, and entertainment — and, of course, the presentation of the class of 2017. Also, the third Continued Excellence Award honoree will be announced. Tickets will go on sale soon at $75 per person (tables of 10 available), and the event tends to sell out quickly. For more information, call (413) 781-8600, ext. 100, or e-mail [email protected].

Health Care Sections

A Matter of Compliance

The team at River Valley Counseling Center

The team at River Valley Counseling Center and local dignitaries cut the ribbon recently on the facility’s new in-house pharmacy.

It’s an easy concept to understand, Rosemarie Ansel said: medicine is useless if it’s not taken.

And prescription non-compliance is a common problem in the behavioral-health realm, said the executive director of River Valley Counseling Center. That can lead to rehospitalization in many cases, or worse.

“Whether it’s outpatient mental health or day treatment or services in schools, the idea is to provide support for people and help them manage their medical diagnosis so they remain in the community setting and not be hospitalized,” Ansel said. “Behavioral-health patients are a big part of who visits emergency departments. We try to provide services so it doesn’t get escalated to that level.”

That’s why she’s excited about River Valley’s new partnership with Genoa, the largest provider of pharmacy, telepsychiatry, and medication-management services for the behavioral-health and addiction-treatment communities. The company recently opened a pharmacy inside River Valley’s main clinic in Holyoke, Genoa’s fourth such location in Massachusetts and the first in the Greater Springfield region.

Genoa’s 380 pharmacies, all set in behavioral-health clinics across the country, serve than 550,000 individuals annually in 45 states, filling more than 13 million prescriptions annually.

“The focus is on behavioral-health medications, although they provide all medications for any of of our clients, their families, my staff, and my staff’s families,” Ansel said. “River Valley isn’t going to make any money on this; just a little bit of rent for the square footage in the building. It’s a partnership, in that the goal was to have the clients be more medication-compliant.”

A 2016 study published in the Journal of Managed Care and Specialty Pharmacy showed that integrated care models that feature on-site pharmacies produce higher medication adherence rates than community pharmacies, as well as lower rates of hospitalization and emergency-department utilization. In fact, Genoa’s consumers average more than a 90% medication-adherence rate.

And that’s the key, Ansel said. While there’s no guarantee patients will take their prescribed medications, compliance rates rise significantly once they have a prescription filled — which is much easier with a dedicated pharmacy on the clinic site than it is when they must visit a pharmacy off-site.

“One of the things we know in behavioral health is that clients pick up scripts and never fill them, or they don’t adhere to the recommended instructions, and they’re back in the hospital, and the cycle continues,” Ansel said. “We have a pharmacist who really understands the importance of being compliant and following their treatment plans to stay healthy.”

In addition, a pharmacist who specializes in the behavioral-health field, and who can easily communicate with a patient’s doctor if there are questions, makes it much easier to quickly answer questions, reducing confusion and further promoting compliance, she added.

For this issue’s focus on behavioral health, BusinessWest  spoke with Ansel about this new pharmacy partnership and how it’s just one part of a multi-faceted effort to increase access to behavioral healthcare for clients across the region.

Straight Talk

Ansel said River Valley had two ‘asks’ before taking Genoa on as a partner. One was that the pharmacist had to be bilingual in English and Spanish, as are about 75% of the practice’s 165 employees. “That’s a really important feature for us,” she said, considering the demographics of Holyoke. The pharmacist assigned to River Valley, Angel Marrero, fits the bill.

The second was that Marrero would be an active advocate with insurance companies, which often try to block certain medications, forcing practitioners to spend valuable patient time fighting with them.

“It’s time-consuming, it’s cumbersome, you’re on hold for a half-hour before talking to someone,” she explained. “This will free up our prescribers to see more clients. It’s a win-win for them.”

Rosemarie Ansel

Rosemarie Ansel says keeping clients compliant with medication instructions starts with making sure they actually fill the prescriptions.

After agreeing to both caveats, Genoa went to work over the winter in converting former waiting-area space into a pharmacy at the front of the clinic. After a soft opening in June, the pharmacy became the only one of its type in Western Mass.

River Valley’s clients — who receive outpatient care clinics in Holyoke, Chicopee, and Easthampton, as well as school-based sites in those three communities, as well as Granby and Springfield — run the gamut of age, demographics, and medical needs, Ansel explained.

For instance, the practice provides therapy in primary-care doctors’ offices, with licensed therapists assigned to the practice. The reason is that front-line providers are often the first to diagnosis a mental-health concern, and for many clients, their doctor’s office is the most comfortable environment for them to receive services.

In the elder-care realm, River Valley has contracts with both WestMass Elder Care and LifePath (in Franklin County) to provide mental-health services to the elderly, including in their homes.

For the younger set, school-based clinics in Holyoke, Chicopee, and Easthampton, as well as a few in Granby and Springfield, bring therapy services to students during the school day.

“Parents are overwhelmed, and the thought of taking the kid out of school and bringing them to therapy, then bringing the kids back — many times, that’s not going to happen. They’re working; they’ve got their own schedules. And transportation can be a huge issue. Even if the kid wants to go to therapy, he may not be able to get there. We go to the schools, which are considered satellites of our main clinic. Kids get taken out of non-core classes to see a therapist right at the school.”

Besides the therapeutic program, these school-based clinics provide a range of general health services, such as immunizations, physicals, dental screenings, and referral services to primary or specialty care. A similar program is offered at Springfield Technical Community College, again, so students can access therapeutic services without having to travel off campus.

Meanwhile, an employee-assistance program allows companies to access therapy services for their workers. “For example, an employee might be having a hard time at work, in their personal life, with finances, with their kids, and they need someone to reach out to. It could be financial problem, dealing with gambling problem, or it could be something that happened at a job site. If there’s a long-term therapy issue, they can link up with those services.”

The common thread with all these models of care? “We go to the clients in an effort to support them in the environment where they feel the most comfortable,” Ansel said. And comfort level is a bigger deal in the mental-health world than it is in other areas of healthcare.

“There’s a stigma around behavioral health. You need to make yourself as available as possible because, if there’s any kind of barrier, they don’t come. When we get just a little bit of snow, the cancellation rate skyrockets. Therapy is work. You’re not just chatting; you’re working on an issue, and that can be hard to face. If you can have it in an environment that’s more conducive, that causes less stress in your life, it makes it easier.”

Broad Reach

River Valley Counseling Center, which is part of Valley Health Systems and an affiliate of Holyoke Medical Center, has broadened its reach in other ways as well, such as with a day treatment program launched in Chicopee a few years ago.

“That’s for more chronically mentally ill clients, providing services during the work week with the goal of helping them become more independent and less dependent on such a structured program, so maybe they can get a job or start volunteering someplace and move on. People stay there anywhere from a couple months to a couple years, depending on their level of need.”

The practice also offers an HIV/AIDS support and treatment program, headquartered in Springfield, which provides assessment and referral services, case management, support groups, housing services, and other resources.

Considering all the ways River Valley strives to bring services to clients where they are, Ansel said, the partnership with Genoa, aimed at making medication compliance much easier, just makes sense.

“Everything is customer-friendly,” she said, right down to the bubble packaging Genoa uses to sort and clearly label medications by the dose and time.

“They really have a good, positive energy about their work,” she added. “They do things like send thank-you notes to all patients, hand-signed by the technician and pharmacist. Clients very much appreciate that personal touch. I just love this company.”

Joseph Bednar can be reached at [email protected]

Company Notebook Departments

STCC Partners with Northeastern University

SPRINGFIELD — A new educational and workforce-development partnership between Springfield Technical Community College (STCC) and Northeastern University creates an opportunity for current STCC students, graduates, and the general public to earn bachelor’s degrees in mechanical engineering technology and advanced manufacturing systems on site at STCC. In a recent ceremony at STCC, leaders from both institutions officially signed a memorandum of understanding to mark this partnership. In the planning stages for more than a year, the agreement with STCC marks the first time Northeastern has partnered with a community college to offer bachelor’s degrees on site. “Our engineering and manufacturing programs continue to be a signature of STCC, and we are very pleased to collaborate with Northeastern to deepen and enhance workforce efforts for Western Massachusetts,” said John Cook, STCC president. Added Mary Loeffelholz, dean of Northeastern University College of Professional Studies, “we’re pleased to partner with Springfield Technical Community College as it expands opportunities for students. Both of our institutions value experiential learning and industry-aligned degrees to prepare students for career and life success.” Students may choose either a pathway to a bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering technology or in advanced manufacturing systems from Northeastern to be completed online and at STCC. Both degrees are part of the Lowell Institute School at Northeastern, which offers 15 bachelor’s-degree programs, 10 of which are available completely online. “This partnership with STCC is in keeping with the mission and tradition of the Lowell Institute School, which began when A. Lawrence Lowell created the Lowell Institute School for Industrial Foremen in 1903,” said Kemi Jona, founding director of the Lowell Institute School and associate dean of Undergraduate Programs. “The goal then was to bring essential knowledge and opportunity to the people doing the work driving the economy of the new century. Today, the Lowell Institute School is still committed to this goal, reaching students in new ways and places.” The agreement maximizes convenience and cost-effectiveness for STCC graduates who wish to obtain bachelor’s degrees in the two programs, said Adrienne Smith, dean of the School of Engineering Technologies & Mathematics at STCC. Smith said most STCC students have families in the area and would prefer to get their bachelor’s degrees in the Springfield area. In addition to some online courses, classes will take place in the evening and possibly Saturdays.

United Bank Foundation Supports Baystate Project

SPRINGFIELD — The United Bank Foundation Massachusetts recently approved a $50,000 grant designated to help Baystate Medical Center and Baystate Health Foundation establish a permanent Acute Care for Elders (ACE) unit at the hospital. Baystate launched its ACE unit as a pilot program in September 2014, providing nationally recognized and award-winning geriatric care that has resulted in many positive clinical outcomes for elder patients at the medical center, including reducing the length of hospital stays for elderly patients, enhancing patient safety, boosting training for medical staff, and increasing the number of patients who return directly home after their hospital stay. Due to the success of the pilot program, Baystate is seeking partners like United Bank to help establish a permanent, state-of-the-art ACE unit. This 32-bed unit would enable Baystate to provide acute care to more elderly patients in Western Mass. To date, Baystate’s ACE unit has treated approximately 500 elderly patients. According to the Baystate Health Foundation, the elderly population in Western Mass. — which is currently among the highest in the state — is expected to rise by nearly 15% in 2018. By 2030, the older adult population will increase to more than 70 million and account for one in every five Americans. “For anyone who has an elderly family member who required a prolonged hospital stay, you want peace of mind knowing your loved ones are comfortable in a compassionate setting, receiving top medical care, and are on course to return home to lead independent lives when they are discharged,” said Dena Hall, the bank’s Western Mass. regional president and president of the United Bank Foundation Massachusetts. “Baystate has a proven record for meeting these patient-care goals and successfully addressing the unique physical and psychological needs of elderly patients. We know our $50,000 financial commitment will help Baystate continue to be a leader in transforming elder care in Western Mass.”

AIC Named to Top 10 Small Colleges in State

SPRINGFIELD — Zippia.com, a website dedicated to helping people find and pursue the right career, has named American International College (AIC) one of the top 10 small colleges in Massachusetts. Zippia sorted schools in the Bay State by enrollment, limiting their report to institutions with fewer than 2,000 students. They assessed data from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) and college scorecard data from www.ed.gov to determine what small schools offer the best career opportunities and school performance. Career considerations included mean earnings after six and 10 years, and the ratio of people working to not working after 10 years. School performance was measured in terms of admissions rate (the more selective, the better), graduation rate, average cost of attendance (the lower, the better), and debt upon graduation. Once career opportunities and school performance were calculated, Zippia examined the 32 institutions of higher learning in Massachusetts enrolling fewer than 2,000 students. American International College is one of the private schools to be recognized. AIC admits 67% of its students and is the 10th-least-expensive small college to attend in the Commonwealth.

Westfield Bank, Customers Raise Hurricane-relief Funds

WESTFIELD — Westfield Bank presented a donation for $8,000 to the Westfield Spanish American Assoc. and the Western Massachusetts United for Puerto Rico coalition to aid relief efforts in Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria. The funds were raised during the Bank’s “Casual for a Cause” event held earlier this month, in which employees could earn the privilege of dressing casually by contributing to the fund-raiser. Bank customers were also invited to drop contributions in collection boxes located at the Bank’s 21 branch offices. Together, employees and customers donated $4,000, and Westfield Bank matched their efforts with an additional $4,000. According to Ed Diaz, co-founder of the Westfield Spanish American Assoc. (WSAA) and chairman of the association’s hurricane relief fund, the bank’s donation will be sent directly to the United for Puerto Rico relief fund. Together, the WSAA and Western Massachusetts United for Puerto Rico form a coalition of community groups; civic and business leaders; volunteers from Springfield, Holyoke, Westfield, and Chicopee; and others in Western Mass. working to bring relief to the people of Puerto Rico. “Over $100,000 has been raised thus far,” said Diaz, “and we have collected other items such as batteries, water, sanitary products, canned foods, and radios at drop-off points at the Westfield Boys & Girls Club, the Westfield YMCA, and the Westfield school superintendent’s office. We have shipped over 250 boxes of goods to Puerto Rico, and we thank Westfield Bank and everyone who donated to this cause and volunteered their time and talent for this effort.” Both Westfield Bank and the WSAA plan to continue their efforts on behalf of Hurricane Maria relief. With significant support from the WSAA and the Portuguese American Club in Chicopee, a group of Westfield Bank employee volunteers is organizing a benefit dance on Saturday, Dec. 2. The dance will be held from 6 p.m. until midnight at the Portuguese American Club, 149 Exchange St., Chicopee. For more details, visit any Westfield Bank office.

State Awards HCC $229,500 for Culinary Arts Institute

HOLYOKE — The HCC MGM Culinary Arts Institute got a big boost yesterday from the governor’s office with the awarding of a $229,500 grant for the purchase of computer and kitchen equipment for the new downtown training facility, which is expected to open next month. During an appearance at Nashoba Valley Technical High School in Westford, Gov. Charlie Baker announced a total of $9.5 million in Workforce Skills Capital Grants to 32 community colleges, high schools, and educational institutions to enhance and expand career training programs like the ones Holyoke Community College (HCC) will be operating at the Cubit Building on the corner of Race and Appleton streets in the city’s Innovation District. “These Skills Capital Grants will help boost our economy and equip students with new skills, knowledge, and experience with state-of-the-art equipment across the Commonwealth,” Baker said. “We look forward to continuing our work with these 32 institutions and previous awardees to enhance their programs and develop a skilled workforce ready to meet the needs of the Commonwealth.” The HCC grant will be used to buy 32 computer workstations, networking infrastructure, and software programs unique to hospitality- and culinary-industry workplaces, as well as kitchen equipment such as refrigerators, grill and fry tables, ice machines, skillets, griddles, steamers, and dishwashers. “All the items purchased with the grant will directly support workforce training for occupations within the growing hospitality and culinary-arts industry of Western Massachusetts, including preparing workers for MGM Springfield, one of our major employer partners,” said Amy Dopp, HCC’s interim vice president of Institutional Advancement. She said the new equipment will allow the college to increase the number of seats available in its credit and non-credit programs and be able to customize instruction to meet the needs of local employers. Construction of the HCC MGM Culinary Arts Institute, which will occupy nearly 20,000 square feet on the first and second floors of the Cubit Building, is expected to be completed in late November, with non-credit workforce-training programs beginning in December. HCC’s credit programs in hospitality and culinary arts will relocate from the main campus to the new facility for the beginning of the spring 2018 semester.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — The United Bank Foundation Massachusetts recently approved a $50,000 grant designated to help Baystate Medical Center and Baystate Health Foundation establish a permanent Acute Care for Elders (ACE) unit at the hospital.

Baystate launched its ACE unit as a pilot program in September 2014, providing nationally recognized and award-winning geriatric care that has resulted in many positive clinical outcomes for elder patients at the medical center, including reducing the length of hospital stays for elderly patients, enhancing patient safety, boosting training for medical staff, and increasing the number of patients who return directly home after their hospital stay.

Due to the success of the pilot program, Baystate is seeking partners like United Bank to help establish a permanent, state-of-the-art ACE unit. This 32-bed unit would enable Baystate to provide acute care to more elderly patients in Western Mass. To date, Baystate’s ACE unit has treated approximately 500 elderly patients.

According to the Baystate Health Foundation, the elderly population in Western Mass. — which is currently among the highest in the state — is expected to rise by nearly 15% in 2018. By 2030, the older adult population will increase to more than 70 million and account for one in every five Americans.

“For anyone who has an elderly family member who required a prolonged hospital stay, you want peace of mind knowing your loved ones are comfortable in a compassionate setting, receiving top medical care, and are on course to return home to lead independent lives when they are discharged,” said Dena Hall, the bank’s Western Mass. regional president and president of the United Bank Foundation Massachusetts. “Baystate has a proven record for meeting these patient-care goals and successfully addressing the unique physical and psychological needs of elderly patients. We know our $50,000 financial commitment will help Baystate continue to be a leader in transforming elder care in Western Mass.”

Added Dr. Andrew Artenstein, chief physician executive at Baystate Health, “we’ve proven that this approach works, and the need for it will increase significantly as our population increases. It’s time to move out of the pilot stage and crease a more permanent, expanded ACE unit.”

Daily News

LONGMEADOW — JGS Lifecare will host Dr. Bill Thomas’ ChangingAging Tour on Monday, June 12 in the Gloth Family Auditorium, 770 Converse St., Longmeadow. There will be two performances: “Disrupt Dementia” from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m., and “Aging: Life’s Most Dangerous Game” from 7 to 8:30 p.m.

Many claim that aging will change us against our will, and for the worse. Thomas, a graduate of Harvard Medical School and an international authority on geriatric medicine and elder care, argues that this is false. Blending myth and science, live music and visuals, the ChangingAging Tour is barnstorming the country in a rock-and-roll tour bus to bring communities a new and highly disruptive understanding of aging.

Drawing on ancient wisdom and scientific breakthroughs, the ChangingAging Tour challenges audience members to reject ageist stereotypes and embrace the moments of life that offer the greatest risk, reward, and possibility.

“We are thrilled to bring this transformational event to our local community,” said Martin Baicker, president and CEO of JGS Lifecare. “Dr. Thomas is the creator of the small-house concept known as the Green House model of care, which is employed at our new Sosin Center for Rehabilitation, and will be coming next to our Leavitt Family Jewish Home as part of phase two of our Project Transformation.”

The ChangingAging Tour includes two non-fiction theater performances as well as an expert panel discussion and an immersive lobby experience. In the afternoon, “Disrupt Dementia” — featuring music and stories from Samite and Nate Silas Richardson, and co-hosts Dr. Jennifer Carson and Kyrié Carpenter — challenges common misconceptions and stereotypes of dementia. The evening performance, Dr. Thomas’ signature show, is “Aging: Life’s Most Dangerous Game,” featuring musician Nate Silas Richardson and Namarah McCall, which explores aging as a rich process of growth.

“Aging can be reimagined as a vivid and enlivening process that presents us with extraordinary risks and rewards,” Thomas said. “So, how are we supposed to play this most dangerous of all games? What do winning and losing look like?”

Through the performances, attendees will explore the difference between truth and illusion when it comes to aging, effective insights for better health and well-being gained from the wisdom of elders, exciting possibilities for every stage of life, illuminating insights on what elders — even those living with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease — can teach about creating kind and inclusive communities, and more.

Between the two performances, JGS Lifecare will offer a panel discussion, tours of the Sosin Center for Rehabilitation, and vendor displays. Michael’s Café will be open for refreshments.

Tickets cost $10 each, or both performances for $15. National event sponsors include AARP and Holiday Retirement. Local event sponsors including Visiting Angels, the Alzheimer’s Assoc., Dr. Fred Brownstein, and Health New England. Event supporters include Carr Property Management, Glenmeadow, HealthPro Rehabilitation, Healthcare Services Group, Jewish Family Services, and Springfield Jewish Community Center. Tickets can be purchased online at changingaging.com using discount code JGS50, or in person at JGS Lifecare, 770 Converse St., Longmeadow, in the Development Office.

Business of Aging Sections

The Write Stuff

By Gina Barry, Esq.

Gina Barry

By Gina M. Barry, Esq.

It should come as no surprise that the general population of the U.S. is aging. According to the Administration for Community Living, which was created by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, people who were age 65 or older represented 14.5% of the population in 2014, and that number is expected to grow to 21.7% of the population by 2040.

When aging, most people would prefer to have a plan in place to ensure that their needs and goals will be met, even if they are incapacitated or pass away. While many people believe they do not have enough money to need an estate plan, the need for an estate plan is not solely related to the amount of one’s wealth.

As explained below, a basic estate plan is comprised of four legal documents and is quite simple to establish.

Last Will and Testament

A will directs the disposition of the probate estate. The probate estate consists of assets held in the decedent’s name alone that do not have a beneficiary designated. When a person passes away without a will, their estate will be distributed as directed by the Commonwealth’s intestacy law, which may not be as they would have desired.

A common misconception is that a will is not needed if every asset is jointly owned or has a designated beneficiary. Of course, there must be a surviving joint owner for this plan to work. If both owners pass away simultaneously in a common accident, the estate will need to be probated, as there will be no surviving joint owner.

A will is also necessary in order to designate a personal representative, who will carry out the estate. The personal representative will gather the probate assets, pay valid debts, and make distribution of the estate to the beneficiaries as set forth in the will. Further, if the decedent leaves behind minor children, a guardian can be designated in the will to take custody of these children.

Likewise, a trust can be established in a will that would provide ongoing protection for minor children — or possibly for other beneficiaries who should not receive their inheritance outright, usually due to spendthrift concerns. When there is no will in place, the power and ability to make these designations and to direct the disposition of property is forfeited.

Healthcare Proxy

A healthcare proxy is a document that designates a healthcare agent, who would make healthcare decisions in the event of incapacity of the principal (person signing the proxy). The healthcare agent would step into the shoes of the principal and make decisions as they would if they were able. For example, they may decide whether a certain medication should be taken, whether a certain medical procedure should be done, or whether there should be an admission or discharge from a medical facility.

 

While many people believe they do not have enough money to need an estate plan, the need for an estate plan is not solely related to the amount of one’s wealth.”

 

‘Living will’ language is normally included within the healthcare proxy. The living-will language addresses end-of-life decisions and generally sets forth that the principal does not want extraordinary medical procedures used to keep them alive when there is no likelihood of recovery. This can be a difficult decision to carry out; therefore, care should be taken to name someone who would be able to honor that decision. Individuals who have an advanced illness may choose to establish medical orders for life-sustaining treatment (MOLST) in addition to a healthcare proxy.

A MOLST is a medical order form completed by a patient and their physician that relays instructions about a patient’s care, including stating which treatment should be given or otherwise withheld. A MOLST would eliminate the need for living-will language in a proxy, but the best practice would be to reference it in the proxy.

Durable Power of Attorney

A durable power of attorney is a document that designates someone to make financial decisions. This document is usually in full force and effect when it is signed, but it is expected that it will not be used unless you are unable to handle your own financial affairs. It is also possible to grant a springing power that does not take effect until incapacity arises.


Rehabilitation Facilities in Western Mass.


The power of attorney is a very powerful document that is as broad as the powers granted within it. It gives authority to the designated person to handle all financial decisions, not just pay bills. In most cases, the person named will be authorized to handle real estate, life insurance, retirement accounts, other investment accounts, bank accounts, and any other matters involving money.  As such, the person chosen to serve in this capacity should be someone with financial savvy who can be trusted without reservation.

Homestead Declaration

The homestead declaration, once properly recorded in the Registry of Deeds, declares a principal residence to be a homestead. The homestead declaration protects the equity in the primary residence up to $500,000 from attachment, seizure, execution on judgment, levy, or sale for the payment of debts.

In some cases, such as advanced age or disability, the equity protection can be up to $1 million. If a homestead declaration is not recorded, there is an automatic $125,000 of equity protection.  In addition to some other specific exceptions, a homestead declaration will not protect the real estate from nursing-home costs or tax liens.

Conclusion

With these four documents, most people can help their family members or trusted companions avoid expensive and painful legal hassles related to their ongoing care and their estate.

Individuals with more complicated estates may require different or additional documents to fully protect their interests and their beneficiaries, but for the majority of people, an estate plan is only four documents away.

Gina M. Barry is a partner with the law firm Bacon Wilson, P.C. She is a member of the National Assoc. of Elder Law Attorneys, the Estate Planning Council, and the Western Mass. Elder Care Professionals Assoc. She concentrates her practice in the areas of estate and asset protection planning, probate administration and litigation, guardianships, conservatorships, and residential real estate; (413) 781-0560; [email protected]

Departments People on the Move
Christopher Visser

Christopher Visser

Christopher Visser, formerly an associate attorney with the firm, was elected Partner at Bulkley, Richardson and Gelinas, LLP effective Jan. 1. He joined Bulkley Richardson in 2011 and works principally in its Springfield office, where he is a member of the firm’s Litigation/ADR Department and Health Law Practice Group. Visser’s practice consists primarily of handling complex litigation with a focus in professional malpractice defense. He has represented physicians, mid-levels, nurses, and healthcare organizations in all types of medical-malpractice cases, ranging from labor and delivery cases to cancer cases. He has also successfully represented physicians before the Board of Registration in Medicine, and other healthcare providers before their licensing boards. He also has experience representing clients in insurance-coverage litigation, insurance subrogation, products liability, personal injury, trust litigation, and other civil-litigation matters. He has handled all aspects of prosecuting and defending civil-litigation actions and has represented clients in housing, district, and superior courts, as well as in federal and appellate courts. He has also represented clients in administrative proceedings, arbitrations, and mediations. Visser is a 2003 graduate of Brock University in St. Catharines, Ontario. He attended Western New England University School of Law, where he was a member of the National Moot Court team, and earned his juris doctor in 2009, cum laude. He returns annually to Western New England University School of Law to mentor first-year students in the Introduction to the Legal Profession course. After graduating, he worked for an immigration firm in Hartford and a civil-litigation firm in Springfield prior to joining Bulkley Richardson. He is admitted to practice in Massachusetts and New York.

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The Gaudreau Group Insurance and Financial Services Agency recently welcomed back to its team Kate Roy, Director of Marketing. In her new role, Roy helps communicate the firm’s mission: “we help our clients discover, protect, and enhance the people, places, and things that are important to them.” Working closely with the Gaudreau Group’s strategy advisors, account managers, and President Jules Gaudreau, Roy delivers communications that help current and prospective clients understand the benefits of working with the Gaudreau Group. As a certified insurance counselor, she has a deep understanding of the insurance industry and worked for several years in the personal-insurance business, both for a large national carrier and for several agencies. “We’re excited to have Kate back on our team. Her combination of marketing expertise and in-depth insurance experience is rare, resulting in a greater ability to communicate the Gaudreau Group’s mission to a broad audience in a unique and effective way,” Gaudreau said. A graduate of Springfield Technical Community College’s teleproduction technology program, Roy has experience in several different media channels. She was featured on roughnotes.com, the online presence of Rough Notes magazine, for her expertise on digital marketing in the insurance-agency world. She is also a graduate of the Springfield Leadership Institute, has volunteered with the East of the River Five Town Chamber of Commerce (ERC5) and Minnechaug Regional High School’s Career Readiness collaboration, and is a current contributor to the Westfield Education to Business Alliance. Roy was with the Gaudreau Group previously from 2008 to 2014 in customer-service and administrative roles. Prior to her years in the insurance industry, she was a videographer and editor for a local NBC TV affiliate.

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Whittlesey & Hadley announced Lisa Wills, CPA has been elected to partner, effective Jan. 1. Wills has been working primarily with nonprofits over her 25-year career, growing her practice and navigating ever-changing regulation. Her progressive approach to complex audits has helped her build a reputation as an industry thought leader. Wills is an active member of the AICPA as well as the CTCPA. “Lisa is a talented auditor and trusted advisor to nonprofits throughout Connecticut and Massachusetts,” said Managing Partner Drew Andrews. “Nonprofits are one of Whittlesey & Hadley’s largest practice areas, so expanding our leadership team with a professional of Lisa’s caliber demonstrates our ongoing commitment to providing exceptional service to the nonprofit community.”

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HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital of Western Massachusetts recently welcomed Susan Barone to its senior leadership team as director of Marketing Operations. She brings extensive healthcare experience to HealthSouth, as she has worked in the Western Mass. community for 25 years as a registered nurse and has held roles in hospital operations and medical practice leadership. Barone’s area of expertise includes healthcare business development and marketing, with a vast knowledge of the area’s healthcare community. She received her nursing education from Baystate Medical Center School of Nursing, a bachelor’s degree from Bay Path University, and an MBA in healthcare leadership from Elms College.

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Jill McCarthy Payne

Jill McCarthy Payne

American International College (AIC) Professor of Criminal Justice Jill McCarthy Payne has been appointed by Gov. Charlie Baker to a two-year term on the Gaming Policy Advisory Committee, a subcommittee of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission. The committee advises the Gaming Commission on matters including annual resource agenda, public safety, addiction as it relates to gambling, mitigation, and other issues. Along with Payne, committee members include two senators, two legislators, representatives from public health and labor, and Gaming Commission Chair Stephen Crosby. Payne, who resides in Springfield and represents Region B as a Springfield member, was selected by Baker because of her previous involvement with the casino project in Springfield. Appointed by Mayor Domenic Sarno, Payne served on his five-member committee that helped select MGM as the casino of choice for Springfield. In addition, and prior to her recent appointment by the governor, Payne was tapped to be a member and chair of the local Community Mitigation Committee, thereby serving dual roles at the state and local level. “I’m excited to be part of this opportunity for Springfield. Although streets are narrowed currently due to construction, upon its completion, the casino will bring a new vibrancy to downtown,” Payne said. “The MGM project itself is unique in the gaming industry because it is considered an ‘inside-out’ model, meaning that patrons will be able to visit all amenities, including restaurants and entertainment venues, without ever entering the casino itself. In addition, the casino is being built within an urban area, using the MassMutual Center, Symphony Hall, and CityStage, to become part of the fabric of the community. It is really a first of its kind.” While initial meetings have already begun in Boston, the work of the Gaming Policy Advisory Committee will begin in earnest once all facilities are open.

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Loyalty360, the professional association for customer loyalty, tapped PeoplesBank Senior Vice President of Retail Sheila King-Goodwin to present on the bank’s approach to customer engagement at the 2016 Engagement & Experience Expo in Denver. Her presentation was titled Branch of the Future: It’s Not Just About the Building, It’s Your Brand. King-Goodwin touched on a number of aspects of customer engagement, including service, innovation, and authenticity. “When they come in a branch, we really have to nail that customer experience,” she said. “We create differentiation through authenticity.”

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Kerry Bartini

Kerry Bartini

Berkshire Design Inc. announced that Kerry Bartini, AIA, earned her architectural license in December and is now a registered architect in Massachusetts. Bartini has more than 14 years of experience in the architectural profession, and her expertise encompasses design and project administration for residential and commercial architectural design projects. Bartini has been a member of the Berkshire Design team for over five years. Her recent projects in collaboration with the Berkshire Design team include work on private residences throughout Berkshire County, as well as work on a new community building for Gould Farm in Monterey, the redevelopment of the former DeSisto School property in Stockbridge, and the Residences at Bellefontaine Canyon Ranch Condominiums in Lenox. In December, Bartini was honored as one of only 12 recently licensed architects from across the country who were selected to participate in the 2016 National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) Think Tank. Participants in the think tank are responsible for providing critical feedback to the NCARB regarding its mission, programs, and services. Bartini graduated from Roger Williams University in 2003 with a bachelor’s degree in architecture.

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Holyoke Rotary President Venus Robinson announced the selection of Helene Florio as the 2016 recipient of the William G. Dwight Distinguished Service to Holyoke Award. The selection jury, chaired by last year’s recipient, Carl Eger Jr., has chosen Florio to be the latest recipient of this coveted award. The first award was presented in 1940 by the Transcript-Telegram to Joseph Weis. Holyoke Rotary was pleased to take over presentation of the awards when the Dwight family was no longer involved in the newspaper business in the city. A native of Holyoke, Florio attended schools in Torrington and Goshen, Conn., graduating from Wamogo Regional High School in Litchfield, Conn. before coming back to this region. She attended school at the University of Miami followed by Katharine Gibbs School in Boston. Florio most recently was president of the Rotary Club of Holyoke during its centennial year. During this time, she was awarded Rotary’s highest recognition, the Paul Harris Fellowship, which acknowledges individuals who contribute, or who have contributions made in their name, to the Rotary Foundation of Rotary International. Paul Harris was the founder of Rotary in 1905, and the foundation was established in 1957. Florio joined the Holyoke Rotary Club in 2002, becoming the first third-generation Rotarian in the Club, and has a community-service classification within Rotary. She currently serves as executive director of the Holyoke Taxpayers Assoc., where she is also president of the board of directors. She is also vice president of the WestMass Elder Care board of directors. She has also served as president of the former Junior League of Holyoke, the Area Mental Health Center, the Holyoke Hospital Aid Assoc., and the former Holyoke YWCA. She has served on the boards of the United Way, the Holyoke chapter of the American Red Cross, Loomis Communities, and Holyoke Junior Achievement Foundation. She has lent her skills to Wistariahurst Museum Assoc. In addition, Florio is a trustee of the Mansir Fund, serving the needs of disabled children in the Greater Holyoke area. In 2009, she was elected as one of the nine local citizen volunteers to serve on the Charter Revision Committee. From CIT experience at Camp Maria Pratt as a Girl Scout to Brownie leader in Holyoke, to Ski Club and PTO, she has worked to serve children in and throughout the area. During Holyoke’s centennial celebration, she was honored as one of Holyoke’s top 100 volunteers. Florio follows in the footsteps of an aunt, Hortense Alderman Cooke, and her father, Wayne Alderman, previous recipients of this award. She will be honored at a celebration on Wednesday, Feb. 8 at the Delaney House in Holyoke. Call Deb Buckley at (413) 534-7355 for information about tickets to the dinner.

Daily News

HOLYOKE — Holyoke Rotary President Venus Robinson announced the selection of Helene Florio as the 2016 recipient of the William G. Dwight Distinguished Service to Holyoke Award. The selection jury, chaired by last year’s recipient, Carl Eger Jr., has chosen Florio to be the latest recipient of this coveted award.

The first award was presented in 1940 by the Transcript-Telegram to Joseph Weis. Holyoke Rotary was pleased to take over presentation of the awards when the Dwight family was no longer involved in the newspaper business in the city.

A native of Holyoke, Florio attended schools in Torrington and Goshen, Conn., graduating from Wamogo Regional High School in Litchfield, Conn. before coming back to this region. She attended school at the University of Miami followed by Katharine Gibbs School in Boston.

Florio most recently was president of the Rotary Club of Holyoke during its centennial year. During this time, she was awarded Rotary’s highest recognition, the Paul Harris Fellowship, which acknowledges individuals who contribute, or who have contributions made in their name, to the Rotary Foundation of Rotary International. Paul Harris was the founder of Rotary in 1905, and the foundation was established in 1957.

Florio joined the Holyoke Rotary Club in 2002, becoming the first third-generation Rotarian in the Club, and has a community-service classification within Rotary. She currently serves as executive director of the Holyoke Taxpayers Assoc., where she is also president of the board of directors. She is also vice president of the WestMass Elder Care board of directors. She has also served as president of the former Junior League of Holyoke, the Area Mental Health Center, the Holyoke Hospital Aid Assoc., and the former Holyoke YWCA. She has served on the boards of the United Way, the Holyoke chapter of the American Red Cross, Loomis Communities, and Holyoke Junior Achievement Foundation. She has lent her skills to Wistariahurst Museum Assoc.

In addition, Florio is a trustee of the Mansir Fund, serving the needs of disabled children in the Greater Holyoke area. In 2009, she was elected as one of the nine local citizen volunteers to serve on the Charter Revision Committee. From CIT experience at Camp Maria Pratt as a Girl Scout to Brownie leader in Holyoke, to Ski Club and PTO, she has worked to serve children in and throughout the area. During Holyoke’s centennial celebration, she was honored as one of Holyoke’s top 100 volunteers.

Florio follows in the footsteps of an aunt, Hortense Alderman Cooke, and her father, Wayne Alderman, previous recipients of this award. She will be honored at a celebration on Wednesday, Feb. 8 at the Delaney House in Holyoke. Call Deb Buckley at (413) 534-7355 for information about tickets to the dinner.

Daily News

LONGMEADOW — Paul Nicholson, chair of the board of directors for Glenmeadow, announced that Anne Thomas has accepted the position of president and CEO and will begin work with the nonprofit on Tuesday, Nov. 1.

Thomas most recently served as vice president of residential health at JGS Lifecare in Longmeadow, and she has over 25 years of experience working with seniors.

“She has strong operational, interpersonal, team-building, and financial-management skills,” Nicholson said. “Most importantly, though, her career has been devoted solely to older adults, and she is passionate about the people she serves, including the staff members she leads. She has demonstrated that she is a driven leader.”

In the brief interim until Thomas begins her new position, Glenmeadow Controller David Leslie and Assistant Administrator Anne Miller will share the responsibilities of former President and CEO Timothy Cotz, who retired on Oct. 5.

Cotz announced his retirement in March to “give our board the opportunity to seek my successor in a thoughtful, planned way.”

Witt/Kieffer, an executive search firm with a specialty in senior living, conducted a national search, which narrowed the field to three finalists. Each spent a day at Glenmeadow meeting with residents, board members, and staff.

Thomas holds a bachelor’s degree in social work from Providence College in Rhode Island and a master’s in social work from Hunter College in New York.

“I am truly excited about the opportunity to lead Glenmeadow as its next CEO,” Thomas said. “Glenmeadow has earned its stellar reputation by its deep dedication to improving the lives of older adults. As a core value, I have always believed later life should be the best part of life. This philosophy is embedded in the Glenmeadow community, so I was immediately attracted.”

Throughout the interview process, Thomas said she talked with many residents, employees, and board members, all of whom expressed their genuine love for Glenmeadow. “Having always worked in elder care, I know the difficulty of achieving this level of confidence,” she said. “My initial goal will be to develop strong relationships with residents, employees, and board members. It will be my true pleasure and honor to guide the team. I cannot wait to get started.”

Glenmeadow is a life-plan community known for its holistic mission and innovative programs and outreach to the wider community. Once offering services only to residents, the organization now provides services to people living across the Greater Springfield area. Through such innovations as Glenmeadow at Home, the Lifestyle Pass, and Glenmeadow Learning, area residents have access to services from transportation and care management to education. The organization employs a staff of 200.