Golden Slipper Home Sold to For-Profit Organization

Twenty-six years ago, Golden Slipper Club & Charities was called upon to bail out a Jewish nursing home in Northeast Philadelphia that was in serious financial debt.

Golden Slipper, which also runs a senior center, a camp for underprivileged children and a scholarship program out of its headquarters in Bala Cynwyd, accomplished that feat — and has managed the 240-bed health and rehabilitation center ever since.

Until last week, that is, when the philanthropic organization handed the reigns to a for-profit company.

Ironically enough, the $7.5 million sale to GS Operator, L.P. — a Marlton, N.J.-based group specializing in long-term-care facilities — was motivated by none other than budgetary concerns.

"If we kept going, we wouldn't be able to give the same excellent care that we've given over the years," explained David Horowitz, the charity's president. "We thought it was the smartest thing on behalf of the care and the patients."

Norman Zarwin, chair of the eight-member, ad-hoc sale committee and the home's first president after Golden Slipper's takeover, elaborated further. Recent statewide cuts in medicaid have hurt the home, he said, where about 65 percent to 70 percent of the residents qualify for some type of reimbursement, but far fewer — only the very sickest — actually receive it.

"We still had to provide the services" for all medicaid-qualified residents, he said. But given the home's limited budget, it became "imperative to find out how to more economically run a nursing home."

After eight months of deliberation, Zarwin's committee decided that a team of trained health-care-management professionals would be better equipped to deal with such industry pitfalls.

Out of 10 prospective buyers, the committee selected GS Operator, L.P., for its "history of operations, financial strength and willingness to continue as a kosher Jewish facility," said Zarwin.

He also mentioned the committee's hope that as one of several holdings under GS Operator, L.P., the home — now renamed the Glendale Uptown Home — would fare better.

Barry Feldscher, co-president of GS Operator, L.P., echoed these sentiments.

"We're professionals in the nursing-home industry. Golden Slipper is a professional in charity," he said. "A single-entity organization that has a president and a board that serves at its disposal will have to know how to deal with" the changing reimbursement systems and governmental regulations.

Feldscher said that he fully intends to keep the home "in the Jewish tradition," and retain the kosher food-service company.

But already there have been signs of change; Rabbi Sandra Katz, the home's only full-time rabbi, has left the facility.

"The rabbi was the one and only staff member of Golden Slipper whose relationship with my mother was of a spiritual and very personal nature," said Stacia Friedman, whose 90-year-old mother has been a resident at Golden Slipper for 21/2 years. "I don't see how any health-care professional — and especially one who isn't Jewish — can possibly provide to residents what this wonderful rabbi presented."

Friedman also voiced concern that "to save money and to increase profits, they might cut back on staff," or at least pare down the salaries and benefits of Golden Slipper's approximately 200 full-time and 100 part-time employees.

"Many members of staff are nervous about the changeover, and I am nervous with them," she said. "The quality of care at any nursing home is directly related to their salary and benefits."

Friedman added that her mother's continued care at the home will be contingent upon the quality of care she receives, as well as the home's ongoing ability to provide a Jewish environment.



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