It's a whole new ballgame

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It's a whole new ballgame
It's a whole new ballgame
Baltimore's brand new Green House Residences at Stadium Place is built on hallowed ground. The $12.6 million nursing home sits on the parcel of land that used to be home to Memorial Stadium, the former home for the Baltimore Ravens and the Baltimore Orioles.

Completed in April of 2012, The Residences provide skilled nursing care for up to 49 elders, under the Green House model of care. And, in fulfilling the mission of the community's operator and developer, 60% of the residents are low-income Medicaid recipients.

The Residences is Maryland's first Green House home. Operated by Associated Catholic Charities, it was developed by Govans Ecumenical Development Corporation (GEDCO), which shares Catholic Charities' mission of providing housing for low-income seniors.

The Residences are the skilled nursing arm of a mixed income retirement community that also shares land with a YMCA.

The community's property is a nostalgic spot for long-time Baltimore residents, says Robert Keenan, Catholic Charities' director of media relations.

The building that houses the skilled nursing residents has four floors, each with 12 residents. Each floor is referred to as a “home” or cottage. The homes are 7,000 square  feet, with a communal kitchen, hearth and dining room area, but each resident has his or her own bedroom. As with other urban Green Houses, the challenge for developers was to meet all the Green House certification requirements in such a tight, urban space.

“We're actually the third urban, multi-story Green House in the country,” says Ted Gross, GEDCO's director of senior services, the lead project manager for four years. “The way we were able to configure the building within an existing campus represents the nature of our community.”

 To memorialize the former stadium, which has been torn down, the YMCA built new baseball playing fields directly on top of where the old playing field used to be. Dining room windows overlook home plate, and the community collects baseball memorabilia that residents can use to decorate their rooms and other spaces.

“We have a walking path around the ballpark, so it's very integrated into our community. Having the ‘Y' here is amazing for the connectedness it offers. And many residents and staff have memories of coming to the stadium to see games,” Keenan said.

Nate Sweeney, administrator at The Residences, says he tried to hire a mix of people who had worked in traditional nursing homes and people who hadn't since caregivers steeped in the traditional model might not be as comfortable with the Green House way of doing things. For instance, caregivers, which are referred to as “shahbazim,” do cooking and cleaning and other tasks that traditional nursing home CNAs and RNs don't do.

“I wouldn't want to work anywhere else. I can see a difference and I can see a difference it's making in the lives of staff,” Sweeney said.

Lessons Learned

1. Reach out to people who have Green House homes up and running — it's good for moral support.

2. It's important to have financial and operational partners lined up.

3. The state can be your strongest partner if it's included right from the start.

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