The Madlyn and Leonard Abramson Center for Jewish Life, Abramson Senior Care’s 72-acre Horsham campus, is set to be sold in the coming weeks.
The expected buyers, Imperial Healthcare Group, plan to rename the 324-bed campus as the Horsham Center for Jewish Life. (Imperial was unable to be reached for comment by press time.)
Carol Irvine, president and CEO of Abramson Senior Care, said other changes planned by Imperial won’t represent a significant divergence from ACJL’s status quo. No resident will need to leave the Horsham campus. The majority of the direct care staff will be retained, and the on-site commitment to Jewish life — in the form of kosher meals, rabbinical services and other comforts that residents are accustomed to — will remain as is.
“Please know that our nearly 160-year mission of serving the frailest and neediest seniors in our community wherever and however they need us is unchanged,” Irvine wrote in a letter posted to the Abramson website. “Our commitment to the families we serve remains at the very core of this mission, and we look forward to continuing to be here for you as you navigate the aging journey with your loved ones.”
Abramson Senior Care encompasses much more than the newly named Horsham Center for Jewish Life. The umbrella organization provides services to roughly 5,000 older Philadelphians, with additional locations in Bryn Mawr, Bustleton and Wynnewood, at Lankenau Medical Center. There are options for geriatric rehabilitation, hospice programs, at-home care, palliative care and other programs. None of that will change, and no location besides Horsham will be affected by the sale.
Adjustments made in the last few years within the commonwealth’s policies on long-term care and Medicaid managed care were a major impetus for the decision to sell.
The changes meant that Abramson lost the flexibility it once enjoyed in determining who would be admitted to the ACJL, based on factors like family support, income level, clinical background and Medicaid eligibility.
“We realized that the ability for us to make that determination really changed,” Irvine said, “because now, we have a managed care company that says, ‘Oh no, that individual that you think should move into the nursing home, we can take care of that individual in the community, we’ll add a little more home care dollars, we’ll do this, we’ll do that.’ But we lost the ability to make that decision.”
The Abramson board’s research confirmed the fears — Arizona, Irvine said, had implemented such policies 20 years ago, and has seen more than a 50% reduction in total nursing home beds. The combination of that research, the reality of a long-flat rate of Medicaid reimbursement for nursing homes, and growing consumer preference for at-home care led to one conclusion: It would be prudent to sell the ACJL facility. On Oct. 30, the strategic planning committee at Abramson voted to explore a sale, and the campus was listed in January.
Criteria for potential buyers included a commitment to maintaining Jewish care, a willingness to allow Abramson to retain a role as the preferred provider for certain services for residents, and a pledge to keep “the vast majority,” Irvine said, of the direct care workers.
Susan Barker, director of nursing for Abramson Senior Care, has overseen those workers for 15 years, and has worked at Abramson for 17 years total. From the first time she heard about Abramson, its mission — to honor thy father and thy mother — has meant a lot to her. She has longstanding relationships with residents and nurses, and wants Abramson to continue to provide the same care that it always has. There will be changes for her staff; not every direct care employee will be hired by the new owner, and those who do will have a new human resources handbook to learn. Yet she and those who remain are committed to making sure that ACJL remains ACJL, new name or not, pending completion of the sale.
“I understand the financial piece, and the business that health care has become,” Barker said. “And certainly, that mission statement — the world was a very different place when I started.”