Steven J. Horowitz, who in 1985 joined the administrative staff of St. Elizabeth Community, a nonprofit, nonsectarian organization providing care to older adults and people with physical disabilities, is today its president and CEO. Founded in Providence in 1882, the nonprofit now has 10 Rhode Island locations offering apartments for independent seniors, adult day services, affordable assisted living, skilled nursing and rehabilitation care. Since assuming his current leadership role in 1998, Horowitz has overseen construction and renovations throughout the Saint Elizabeth Community and is responsible for 550 staff members. He also started St. Elizabeth Haven, a shelter for abused elders, five years ago, one of a handful in the country. Horowitz also serves on the board of LeadingAge, a national association of 6,000 senior care nonprofit providers that advocates for the industry and its clients. Here, Horowitz discusses growth and new directions at the nonprofit.
PBN: Since coming to St. Elizabeth Community, you have overseen a number of construction and renovation projects. Why did you see this as integral to the nonprofit’s strategic development?
HOROWITZ: In my 32-year tenure at St. Elizabeth Community, I have seen an evolution of long term care and support services for seniors. Saint Elizabeth Community has changed from being a provider of residential long term nursing care, to an organization whose wide array of services meets the varied needs of seniors, providing the right care, in the right place, at the right time. We have built and renovated, and will continue to grow to meet the needs of Rhode Island seniors and aging baby boomers.
PBN: How many people does the St. Elizabeth Haven shelter for abused elders serve each year and how did you first pick up on the need for such a facility?
HOROWITZ: St. Elizabeth Haven is a program within St. Elizabeth Community that was established in 2009 in response to the growing issue of elder abuse and with the full support of R.I. Department of Elderly Affairs, R.I. Department of Human Services and the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence. My board chairwoman, Kelly Cummings, and I attended a national conference and learned of the first safe haven for elderly victims of abuse in New York, and our program is modeled after that. To date, we have sheltered 12 abused elders, providing a total of about 350 shelter days. The number of individuals we have provided shelter to is relatively small, but the impact to those individuals has been enormous.
PBN: What is the “Green House” concept of living for nursing home eligible adults and why are you pursing this project?
HOROWITZ: The “Green House” Project, created by Dr. Bill Thomas, is a model of nursing home care which is more intimate and home-like than current nursing homes. This model provides a small group of elders (10 to 12) a shared home to live in with private bedrooms and bathrooms centered around shared living space (hearth). The staff helps the elders live as independently as possible. Saint Elizabeth Community leadership and board of trustees has researched this concept across the United States, having visited many “Green Houses,” and believe it is an outstanding new model for delivering care to seniors in need of 24-hour care as they age.
Saint Elizabeth Community is responding to a R.I. Department of Health Services Request for Application due May 5, regarding the available nursing home beds currently in the state health system, and specifically responding to those requests for resident directed beds. The timetable is laid out by the state and the selection announcement will be made July 2. Once these beds are awarded, the recipients may need to apply for a certificate of need.
PBN: With short-term, long-term, adult day care and assisted living, apartments, memory and hospice* care, your organization seems to do it all. What is the area most in need of growth and how are you preparing for that?
HOROWITZ: We are in the process of undertaking a strategic plan at St. Elizabeth Community and it is becoming quite clear with the baby boomer generation coming, the face of long term care will be changing. People want to be in their home or its equivalent, and our organization will continue to evaluate our delivery of care models and the needs of those whom we serve, and try to meet those needs.
St. Elizabeth Community is solidly in the middle of strategic planning, and we are looking at all areas of care for seniors as potential areas for growth. Everything is on the table, and as we go through this very thorough process, we will evaluate areas of greatest need and how they align with our mission.
PBN: Social media seems to be the newest component of your outreach. How does the elderly respond to that and are you growing your audience?
HOROWITZ: Social media is a way to connect with people about our services and join in the national conversation about senior care. Older seniors may not be the most active on social media, but their adult children and grandchildren are likely to be. We have a robust and informative website: www.stelizabethcommunity.org, and our facebook page, www.facebook.com/SaintElizabethCommunity, has more than 550 fans. We joined Twitter @SaintElizComm and have a corporate LinkedIn St. Elizabeth Community page. People are looking to connect and be informed about the services.