Going up the driveway toward the Tudor building and flower gardens, one might expect to be entering a charming assisted living or nursing home campus. While that would be correct, it is only part of the many facets in the story of McGregor and its services for seniors.
Nestled in a 32-acre enclave bordering East Cleveland and Cleveland Heights, this is not your typical nursing home. McGregor operates a grant-making foundation that allocates approximately a half million dollars annually. It runs an innovative home health care program, hosts community education panels and provides traditional assisted living, skilled nursing, rehab, hospice and respite care — all on a hilltop estate overlooking Lake Erie, adjacent to Forest Hills Park and just minutes away from the main campuses of Cleveland Clinic and University Hospitals.
The McGregor story began like many of Cleveland’s nonprofit organizations — with a great philanthropist. In this case, Amasa Stone, the legendary capitalist (mainly in railroads) and Cleveland philanthropist, and his wife, Julia, built and endowed the Home for Aged Women in 1877. It was renamed the Amasa Stone House, on what is now East 46th Street and Cedar Avenue.
Over the next century, McGregor evolved into a leader in senior care. Today, the campus includes 30 assisted-living units and a 148-room skilled nursing building, which includes one floor dedicated to short-term rehabilitation. The 50-room rehab offers therapy and skilled care for those recovering from a hospital stay. There also are 39 affordable independent-living apartments.
“There will never be enough funding to care for all the increasing numbers of seniors in the coming years,” says Ann Conn, chief operating officer of the McGregor Foundation.
Indeed, a dramatic demographic shift is coming. The nation’s elder care system is facing a “silver tsunami” — referring to the baby boomers, 76 million of them born in the U.S. between 1946 and the mid-1960s and now reaching retirement age.
According to the Center for Community Solutions, 21.3 percent of Cuyahoga County residents were 60 and older in 2010. That number is projected to reach 31 percent in 2030 — a 10 percent increase over 20 years.
At the same time, the average monthly cost for a one-bedroom unit in a private, assisted-living facility is $3,500, according to a 2014 study by Genworth Financial Inc., and many can run much higher.
Providing Care at home
Enter the PACE program. McGregor PACE, or Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly, provides middle-class use resources, as well as care to low-income seniors in their homes and at three community centers throughout the county. Each center has a full clinic. Participants can receive all the services they would need at a traditional nursing home, while staying within the comfort of their own homes. An interdisciplinary team (including doctors, social workers, nurses, physical therapists, aides and transportation providers) helps seniors and their caregivers develop a personal plan for care. Medicare and/or Medicaid covers all medically necessary costs.
Heading up the PACE program is Dr. Peter DeGolia, a former family physician and geriatrician with University Hospitals. He reports that about 400 people are served annually throughout Cuyahoga County. The seniors he treats typically suffer from dementia and/or other chronic diseases.
“Many of our patients are used to using the emergency room as their primary care source,” says DeGolia. “Our costs are far less than having the same person in a nursing home, and our team can get patients quick access to care.”
PACE’s care model operated in 75 cities as of 2010, and McGregor’s program is the only one in Ohio.
Supporting seniors in need
Conn is in charge of McGregor’s foundation arm, which last year allocated $850,000 to community organizations that support seniors in need and those who serve them. The foundation’s three priorities: affordable housing; education and staff development for people who work with seniors in the home-care setting; and total quality-of-life programming for seniors.
Under Conn’s supervision, McGregor also is planning to build two new facilities on its campus to increase options for the growing senior population. First, preliminary plans are under way to develop affordable independent-living units in conjunction with Cleveland Housing Network. In addition, McGregor is building a facility for 90 new affordable assisted-living units. Its 30 assisted-living residents will move into the new facility upon completion. This project is slated to open in June 2019.
Investing in education
McGregor also cares for the elderly by creating awareness and establishing business relationships and partnerships within the community. As part of that, McGregor presents educational programs and panel discussions throughout the year, such as “Ask our Experts,” an annual community-based program that encourages participants to ask questions about senior care to a multi-disciplinary panel of experts. Another program, “Knowledge Empowers You,” is a continuing education program for health care professionals.
Finding and training good people to work in the senior care field also is a priority at McGregor. To that end, it is starting a social worker training collaborative to provide valuable experience for students and professionals who want to build or enhance their skills.