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After banner year, The Overlook takes on dementia, Alzheimer’s

By Rod Lee

Nowhere is the truth of the age-old expression “the whole is the sum of its parts” more apparent than at The Overlook retirement community on Masonic Home Road in the town of Charlton.

Operated by Masonic Health System of Massachusetts, The Overlook’s strength is the various pieces that make up its operation, from independent, assisted and memory-care living arrangements to short-term senior rehab, skilled nursing, respite care and hospice: all situated on four hundred fifty hilltop acres in the heart of the Commonwealth.

These components rolled into one are what has helped The Overlook withstand industry downturns, market fluctuations and unforeseen challenges, President/CEO Tameryn Campbell told The Yankee Xpress.

Ms. Campbell, a veteran of the senior living and aging services sector, and a recognized turnaround specialist, joined The Overlook in 2014 following the resignation of David Turner. She had previously worked in Washington State.

At a time when (as the Boston Herald has reported) nearly three dozen nursing homes across the Commonwealth are at risk of closing (twenty have been shuttered in recent months and another thirty-five could cease operations by the end of 2019 if lawmakers do not act to close a $360 million funding gap, according to the Massachusetts Senior Care Association), The Overlook’s “Overlook Visiting Nurse Association” has reported nineteen consecutive months of profitability and is poised and positioned for continued success. The OVNA offers hospice and home-care services to two hundred fifteen communities in three regions in Massachusetts, with an expansion of its hospice arm in the offing.

Addressing this issue during a conversation on April 10, Robert Engell, administrator of the Health Center at The Overlook, said management there is “acutely aware of the vulnerability” of nursing homes because of the disparity of the funding that is provided at the state level and the cost of providing care--locally. The crisis “makes us all pay close attention.” The Overlook does what it can to alleviate the stress on the industry, he said.

Meanwhile, as evidence of The Overlook’s overall health in the first months of 2019, Ms. Campbell noted the following:

-In 2018, The Overlook experienced a banner year and was able to reinvest $1.3 million back into its Trust—which is helping to further support its mission.

-Moreover, The Overlook has now paid off 100% of its bank debt and has begun expanding its services.

-The Overlook continues to make unprecedented progress in its operational, financial and satisfaction ratings. The aforementioned Overlook Visiting Nurse Association, an Overlook business corporation, is integral to this exemplary performance.

-In the Fall of 2018, over 250 OVNA team members and support staff were honored and recognized for being named a Top 25% National Best Practice Agency and for receiving the 2018 Patient Satisfaction Award of Distinction by a division of Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), Fazzi’s Home Health Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers.

-In October, a new Respiratory Clinical Program opened on The Overlook campus. This program services both Overlook patients and those from the surrounding areas, discharged from chronic and acute care hospitals, typically with diagnosis of Respiratory Failure, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) or Congestive Heart Failure (CHF).

-The Overlook is also in the process of opening a new program in Charlton, known as “Overlook Vista Adult Day.” This private-pay program for adults with Alzheimer’s and dementia will be available to both existing Overlook residents and those from neighboring communities—and will offer relief to family members and caregivers, allowing them to go to work, handle personal business or just relax while knowing their loved one is well cared for and safe. Commenting on the Overlook Vista Adult Day initiative, Mr. Engell said “we are opening that up to the community this week, giving folks who are physically able to remain at home the opportunity” to come to The Overlook for the kind of attention that will ease afford both the sufferer and the caregiver a break from the strains they face.

-In both 2017 and 2018, Ms. Campbell said, Overlook was awarded Best Senior Living Community in Central Massachusetts designation as part of the annual Worcester Telegram & Gazette’s Reader’s Choice Contest. Thousands of businesses across Central Massachusetts competed against each other, vying for the top positions in a variety of categories including Food and Beverage, Entertainment and Leisure, Health and Well-Being, Local Shops and Services, Vehicles and Others.

-The Overlook employs more than 700 individuals and has frontline caregiver and clinical positions available, including in Nursing, Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, Speech Therapy and Social Work—along with opportunities in the facility’s wellness and fitness center, dining services, maintenance and housekeeping.

-The Overlook is quite selective in its recruitment process, requiring that any individual hired not only possess the appropriate talent and credentials but also that he or she closely aligns from a philosophy perspective with the facility’s clearly defined corporate culture. New hires must commit to The Overlook’s Guiding Principles and Culture of Excellence.

Ms. Campbell said that The Overlook “is somewhat immune to state and national economic cycles due to the unprecedented demographics the country is experiencing.” As evidence of this, she said, The Overlook “serves highly independent, healthy adults as well as frailer individuals—with an average age of 82.” Further, The Overlook offers a multitude of products and services, including fully-independent housing, assisted living, short-term rehab for all ages, memory support, home care, hospice and respite care.”

Because Americans are living longer, life expectancy continues to increase. This means more and more individuals are in need of services offered by The Overlook, Ms. Campbell said. This in turn equates to The Overlook’s continued need for talented and trained team members.

“Statistics substantiate that the older Americans get, the more long-term care and supportive services they need. Over 10,000 Baby Boomers a day are turning 65. Approximately 77 million Baby Boomers began retiring in 2011. We are fortunate that many of these are continuing to live vibrant and robust lifestyles at The Overlook—and those aging individuals who require more care and services are able to take advantage of our quality health care and many services; and our top-flight, caring staff!”

Contact Rod Lee at [email protected] or 774-232-2999.