By Rachel Klumpp / Posted on October 16th, 2015
What Does it Mean to Lead Meaningful and Sustainable Change?
The “Portrait of a Green House Leader” series seeks to highlight talented leaders in The Green House network. It is powerful on many levels to hear these thought leaders share their insight and wisdom. The first of these leaders is John Ponthie, founding member and managing director of Southern Administrative Services, LLC.
Southern Administrative Services is a progressive long-term care operating company with twenty-six affiliated nursing homes in Arkansas, including two Green House campuses (Green House Cottages of Wentworth Place & Southern Hills).
John’s interest in long-term care began as a teenager working at a nursing home where he developed a love and appreciation for interacting with Elders. He went on to receive a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Louisiana State University and a Master of Health Administration degree from Tulane University. John’s healthcare career of over twenty-five years includes sixteen years of hospital administration in addition to serving on the Board of Directors for the Arkansas Health Care Association and the Multi Facility CEO Council for the American Health Care Association.
Despite being a “proud owner” of several traditional long-term care facilities, John and his colleagues witnessed many of fundamental problems of high staff turnover rates and the institutional plagues of loneliness, helplessness, and boredom among Elders. “We knew there had to be a better answer, and for us it was The Green House Project” John says when describing his journey to becoming a Green House adopter.
He identifies that partnering with The Green House Project was crucial to overcoming the fear of change and breaking free from institutional barriers
“We didn’t know what we didn’t know… you know the old model and you’re comfortable with it and to take off in a new direction is difficult. We were in a dark room searching around for a light switch and The Green House Project had the flashlight.”
Working with The Green House Project provided him with the education, training, and the “stamp of approval” from a credible organization necessary to create the right culture to provide a better quality of care. To show the value of the quality of care associated with The Green House model, John successfully led the request for a differential in payment from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services through the first state plan amendment in Arkansas.
With two communities in operation, a third in development, and a fourth pending, John’s pride of association with The Green House model is spreading throughout Arkansas, proving that the model can be successful even in small markets. When discussing financial viability, John states that The Green House model creates a competitive edge that fosters the opportunity to do well through a payor mix while also providing high quality care. Specifically, maintaining a successful census of long-term care elders while incorporating 15-20% of short-term rehabilitation allows him to re-invest back into his business where is matters most; creating and sustaining the right culture to create and maintain a better quality of care.
From a value perspective, John relates that adopting The Green House model gives him the “trump card” over any other model of care. “Where there is an opportunity there needs to be a primary consideration for financial reasons, strategic reasons, and obvious reasons of care and quality.” Investing in The Green House model allows him to “plant his flag at the top as a market leader” and generates the opportunity for him contribute towards creating a better standard of life and care for future generations.
In his free time, John enjoys piloting and spending time with his wife and three children. Click here to listen to the webinar interview of John Ponthie.
“Any number of people can design or build the architecture but that doesn’t bring about the revolutionary change in culture that The Green House Project provides. For us to be able to leverage the successes and failures of so many other adopters is invaluable. The Green House Project has the expertise and structure to help manage our process in a manner that gives our project the highest possibility of success. “ -John Ponthie
By Scott Brown / Posted on July 29th, 2014
“Why would you do anything else?”
That was the question posed by John Ponthie, Member of Summit Health Resources, a for-profit skilled nursing provider in Arkansas, who has embraced The Green House model on two campuses, and is about to start development of a third. He believes that the differentiation, risk mitigation, long term financial benefits, and culture change support from The Green House Project make the decision a “marriage of passion and economics.”
I recently had the opportunity to visit John’s beautiful campus in Magnolia, Arkansas along with a for-profit group looking to develop Green House homes in Missouri. After a tour and a delicious Arkansas barbecue with Elders and the staff, we sat down to learn why a for-profit operator would build Green House homes.
John’s Green House homes are located in a rural area of Arkansas where Medicaid is the biggest payer source, and his private pay rate is $15 less per day than Medicaid. He didn’t want to have to spend “his whole life attracting residents.” The decision to build Green House homes has been rewarded with occupancy rates in the high 90% range compared to a state average of 70%.
Risk mitigation was another reason for developing Green House homes. After careful consideration, he concluded that occupancy was his most significant risk. After a big investment in this business, he didn’t want another organization with a newer building or a better concept, to “trump” him. Green House homes are the pinnacle of skilled nursing innovation, and so highly differentiated from the competition, he believed that the model and its benefits protected the business from new entrants.
But what about the costs of Green House homes versus traditional skilled nursing facilities or other models? The team at Summit Health Resources focused on ways to manage development costs without cutting corners, keeping capital costs low. The key is finding someone who really knows construction, according to John. “Most people don’t know construction. And you have to come up with a design that makes sense.” The incremental cost of Green House homes, when amortized over 20 or 30 years, and taking into account the benefits, “is a no-brainer.”
According to John, The Green House culture and organizational change are the “magic.” The Green House Project helped create a culture focused on caring for Elders, and providing them with a meaningful life. Families spend more time with their loved ones, and are extremely involved with the activities in the home.
For the staff, the benefits are enormous. They are empowered to do their best for Elders. They feel a sense of pride, and that they are a part of something special. “Their commitment goes way beyond their job description,” according to John. In addition to having very satisfied employees, he’s been rewarded with very low turnover.
It was great to see the “magic” created in Magnolia first hand, and to hear John’s story. It’s truly a case of “doing good, while doing well!”
By ghblog / Posted on July 20th, 2011
In Development: 0
Square Feet per Home: 7700
The Green House® Homes at Legacy Village in Bentonville, Arkansas, are owned and operated by Northwest Arkansas Senior Services, Inc. (NWASSI), a local non-profit organization. NWASSI was formed in 2000 to develop a campus that would meet the diverse housing and service needs of seniors in our community. The first two Green House homes at Legacy Village opened in February of 2009. A total of six Green House homes are planned on the Legacy Village campus. Each home includes 10 apartments surrounding a common area core. All apartments are licensed as Level II assisted living units; 20 of the units will serve low-income seniors through the Medicaid Waiver program. When fully occupied, a team of over 45 persons will serve the elders through a system of self-managed work teams including trained Shahbazim, nurses, and administrative staff. At The Green House® Homes at Legacy Village, elders will be provided with every opportunity for growth and self-determination in an environment that protects, sustains, and nurtures.
By ghblog / Posted on July 20th, 2011
In development: 0
Square Feet per Home: 7500
Located in Magnolia, Arkansas, Wentworth Place and its predecessor companies have continuously served the residents of Columbia County and southwest Arkansas for over fifty-years. Licensed for 113 residents, Wentworth Place is dedicated to providing quality care and improving the quality of life for all of our residents in a warm, comfortable, respectful environment. Our staff of over seventy interdisciplinary healthcare professionals is dedicated to providing real culture change in a team-oriented environment. Wentworth Place is a skilled nursing facility that provides care for geriatric and chronically ill elders as well as intensive short-term therapy for those transitioning from hospital to home.
By ghblog / Posted on July 20th, 2011
In development: 0
Square Feet per Home: 0
In February 2010, Summit Health Resources opened the second of their four planned Green House projects in Arkansas. The Green House Cottages of Southern Hills in the rural community of Rison is comprised of six 12-elder homes. Southern Hills cottages will replace a traditional, 50-year-old institution. This project has enjoyed wide community support, and Summit Health has three other Green House projects development in Arkansas.