Methodist Manor House under a new management structure

By Lynn R. Parks

A Pennsylvania-based not-for-profit company has taken over control of the three continuing care retirement facilities in Delaware that were operated by Peninsula United Methodist Homes. Those facilities include the Methodist Manor House in Seaford. ACTS has assumed management and operation of the facilities as well as of Heron Point of Chestertown (Md.), also part of Peninsula United Methodist Homes (PUMH). The new affiliation was effective May 1. Both ACTS and PUMH are not-for-profit entities. No money changed hands in the deal and PUMH remains a separate legal entity from ACTS. PUMH has its own board of directors, which answers to the ACTS board. Whether the group of retirement facilities will keep the name Peninsula United Methodist Homes is still under discussion, said Marvin Mashner, president and CEO of ACTS. "We would like to keep the name because of its history," he added. "But the Peninsula United Methodist Conference may feel differently." Mashner spoke to residents of the Manor House Tuesday afternoon. He told them that things at the retirement facility will remain pretty much as they are. "In many ways, you won't see much of a change," he told the residents. All contracts with current residents will be honored and the current staff of about 200, including executive director Linda Messersmith, will remain, he added. But Mashner said following his remarks that ACTS will look for new ways that the Manor House can reach out to the Seaford community, perhaps providing home-health care, something other ACTS facilities do. Other possibilities include providing hospice care and admitting people in all stages of health. Before this affiliation, the Manor House only admitted people in reasonably good health, and promised to care for them throughout their lives. "We will be looking at the community at large to see what its challenges are and how we can best serve it," Mashner said. Mashner praised the wellness center at the Manor House, calling it one of the best he has seen.

"It is an excellent program and we hope to be able to learn from it and apply those lessons to our other facilities," he said. William Holloway, past president of the PUMH board, told the Manor House residents that the affiliation with ACTS evolved after PUMH reached out to other organizations for advice in weathering economic hard times. Talks with ACTS started in early 2009. "As we looked for ways to make our economies more successful, we turned to others to share their efforts," he said. As a result, PUMH received several offers for mergers, Holloway said. "We realized that we could be stronger if we were part of a bigger group," he said. ACTS was one of five organizations that the PUMH board selected to have discussions with. "And we came to the conclusion that the organization we most wanted to talk to was ACTS," Holloway said. Like PUMH, it is a not-for-profit operator. "And it also had a religious background," he added. ACTS' first facility, Fort Washington Estates in suburban Philadelphia, was founded by a non-denominational church. Holloway said that it was difficult for the board to decide to give up its autonomy. "But we realized that our duty as trustees is not to the corporation, but to all of you," he told the residents. "We wanted to make sure that that promise that we made to you will be upheld." The Methodist Manor House, the second facility constructed by Peninsula United Methodist Homes, was built in 1966. It has about 190 residents in three levels of care, independent, assisted living and skilled care. With its affiliation with PUMH, ACTS, founded in 1972 in suburban Philadelphia, has 23 retirement facilities, in Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama and Florida. In total, its facilities have about 9,000 residents and 6,000 staff members. It is the largest not-for-profit owner, operator and developer of continuing care retirement communities in the U.S.

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