September 2014

In This Issue
Tomah VA Medical Center Opens Two New Green House Homes
"Gaming the 5 Star System"
Living the Life You Love in The Green House Home
Dr. Bill Thomas and Beth Baker Discuss 7th Annual Green House Conference
The Historic Peabody Memphis Hotel
Thought Leaders in Aging Gather at the 2014 Pioneer Network Conference: THE GREEN HOUSE® Project Leadership Among those Presenting
Green House Homes 
"In the News"


Upcoming Events


THE GREEN HOUSE®  Project Workshop: Chelsea, MA



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The Green House Project is proud to say that two new Green House homes have opened in Tomah, Wisconsin at The Tomah VA Medical Center. On August, 13th The  Tomah VA celebrated their home openings with a Ribbon Cutting Ceremony.

 Mario V. DeSanctis, the Medical Director at Tomah VA Medical Center remarked, "This is the future of skilled nursing care and we are proud to join the Danville VA (Ill.), Lovell Federal Health Center (Ill.) and Milwaukee, Wis., in providing this new concept of care for Veterans.  We believe this transformation of care will dramatically enrich our Veterans lives and the lives of the next generation of Veterans."


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It was disheartening to read the NY Times story this week about the CMS 5 Star rating system. Such reporting leaves both the providers and the consumers

 asking, "If a 5 Star nursing home isn't a 5 Star nursing home ... then does that mean that a 1 Star nursing home isn't a 1 Star nursing home?" "Hip, hip hooray," saythe 1 Star homes. "I told you that those 5 Star homes weren't better than us. They just game the system." Wow!


The article asserts that nursing home leaders game the 5 Star system in two ways - 1) By falsely documenting better clinical outcomes via the Quality Measures; and 2) By staffing up during the survey and then reducing staff after the inspectors are gone. I would like to address both.


Cheryl Van Bemdem is the guide at Porter Hills in Grand Rapids, MI.  She is speaking atThe Green House Annual Meeting, a gathering exclusive to Green House adopters, on the value of The Peer Network.  The Green House Project is comprised of organizations around the country who are leaders in long term care.  Being a part of The Peer Network means becoming a part of something that is bigger than yourself. Not only are you investing in a proven brand known for clinical quality

satisfaction and a strong business case, but also in a national platform that will amplify your mission.  See below for a blog post that Cheryl wrote in 2012 about an elder who lived a meaningul life in The Green House homes:

When Helen moved into The Green House homes, we found out that she has always been a hostess, and that she loved to plan parties. Her favorite party to plan was on the 4th of July so when she moved here, she asked if she could have the party here. Of course we said yes!

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The theme of the 7th Annual Green House Meeting and Celebration this November in Memphis is Leading with Heart and Soul. We are excited to have both 

Dr. Bill Thomas and freelance journalist and author Beth Baker as our opening and closing plenary speakers, respectively. We caught up with Bill and Beth at The  Pioneer Network's 14th Annual Conference  in Kansas City, Missouri to hear more about what Leading with Heart and Soul means to them.

"It means bringing passion into what you do, believing in it..." Dr. Thomas began, going on to say that we all have a moral imperative to help people find new ways to live in the community, including those living with frailty and dementia.


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We are excited that  The Peabody Memphis Hotel is the host site of our 7th Annual Green House Meeting and Celebration this November for adopters of the Green House model!  What is so special about this hotel? The Peabody, a AAA Four-Diamond, Forbes Four-Star hotel, has served its guests with Southern hospitality since 1869. The hotel was built in theheart of downtown Memphis making it an ideal location for exploring historic sites and immersing yourself in the barbecue, blues and rock 'n' roll that define Memphis culture.


And then there's the ducks.


Legend of The Peabody Ducks


In the 1930s, Frank Schutt, General Manager of The Peabody, and a friend, Chip Barwick, came back from an Arkansas hunting trip. hey had a bit too much to drink and thought it would be funny to put their live duck decoys in the beautiful Peabody fountain. Three small English call ducks were used and the reaction was enthusiastic. Soon, five North American Mallard ducks 


In 1940, Bellman Edward Pembroke, a former circus animal trainer, offered to assist with delivering the ducks to the fountain each day, teaching them the now-famous Peabody Duck March. Mr. Pembroke became the Peabody Duckmaster and held that role for 50 years.  


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"Journey to the Heartland" was the theme for the 2014 Pioneer Network Conference held last month, and many indeed made the journey!  Over 1,200 people made the trip to Kansas City for a chance to network and learn with others who are deeply committed to the cultural transformation of long term care.  The Green House  Project is a true trailblazer in this movement and we are strong supporters of the conference.  Green House team members, David Farrell and Susan Frazier were presenters at two different sessions during this national event. 

Nurses have a critical role to play in supporting deep transformation within aging services. "Nurses Building Relationships for Organizational Transformation" was a session co-led by Susan and former Green House team member, Anna Ortigara who is now with PHI. 


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Mary Hopfner-Thomas
Rachel Scher McLean

Tara Cugelman-McMahon

Published monthly to share information with providers, elders and others about THE GREEN HOUSE® Project, a new and innovative approach to long-term, skilled nursing care. To learn more, visit

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