, Salem, MA

May 8, 2013

Image rehab

Hathorne Hill designed to make patients feel at home


---- — The newest set of Danvers “neighborhoods” are called Orchard, Putnam and Endicott.

These neighborhoods are really areas within the new $14 million, 72,000-square-foot Hathorne Hill rehabilitation care center, which aims to create a homelike setting for its guests rehabbing from an injury, illness or surgery or in need of long-term care.

“Welcome to the neighborhood of three neighborhoods of 40 beds each,” said Christine Baldini, the administrator and project manager for Hathorne Hill, describing the layout of the facility.

Hathorne Hill opened in February, replacing the former Cedar Glen Nursing Home on Summer Street, and employs 140. The skilled nursing facility is one of the last projects to be developed as part of the redevelopment of the former Danvers State Hospital site, though a senior condominium project farther up the hill is still ongoing.

From the outside, Hathorne Hill looks like a ranch home. The building is built into the side of a hill, so one side has a single floor, while another has two floors, giving it a low profile to the ground.

The facility has 120 beds, 36 of which are private rooms. The rest are called “semiprivate shared suites,” two beds that share a bathroom but are separated by a wall to give one a sense of privacy. Rooms are set in neighborhoods and pods instead of on floors of long corridors. Comfy couches, large-screen TVs, fireplaces, upholstered furniture, bookshelves and artwork help guests feel at home.

There are wood floors throughout and enclosed outdoor courtyards. At the large rehab gym, patients can gain strength and mobility and learn how to do laundry again using real washers and dryers. There’s even a salon where patients can get a manicure and a facial.

“Our concept was to design something that had a hotel-like concept and feel,” said Peter Middlemass, a vice president of sales and marketing for Genesis HealthCare. He said baby boomers demand hotel amenities like Wi-Fi throughout the facility.

If the place has the feel of a Disney hotel, it’s not by accident. Developers embraced a “front of the house, back of the house” concept, Middlemass said.

“Have you ever seen a smoking Cinderella?” Middlemass asked. The operations of a Disney theme park are hidden from view, and that’s the case at Hathorne Hill, where there are separate service and guest elevators. The kitchen is also hidden from view. Residents can get their meals at common dining areas called “bistros” that have the look of a household kitchen with granite countertops and wooden cabinets.

“Many more people are eating in the dining room than in their rooms than in the past,” Baldini said.

“I think they absolutely love it,” said nurse practitioner Matthew Halverson, who came over from Cedar Glen. “I think the rehab patients have embraced the culture,” meaning fewer residents are staying in their rooms, even those in short-term care.

“I love it, even the food’s good,” said Philip Littlefield Evans, 87, of Danvers, who wrote a letter calling Hathorne Hill a “gem.”

The former Peabody resident is a veteran of World War II and Korea, the former owner of Evans Flowers in Peabody, and a former trustee of the old J.B. Thomas Hospital in Peabody. The West Roxbury VA hospital sent him to Hathorne Hill after surgery.

“The personnel were sensitive, caring and pleasant in every respect,” Evans wrote. He plans to write the VA to have veterans in need of rehab sent to Hathorne Hill whenever possible.

With all these amenities, Baldini said the private daily rate is higher, but that’s not the case for those covered by insurance.

Although costs are higher, especially when rent is factored in, the building is more energy-efficient to operate than the smaller, 100-bed Cedar Glen nursing home it replaced. Lights in the corridors dim when no one is in them, for example.

Cedar Glen has operated in town since 1965 in a building that was built as a hotel. When it closed in February, 63 residents came over to the new facility at 15 Kirkbride Drive.

Middlemass said the facility took 31/2 years to develop from concept to opening.

The Beverly-based health care real estate company College Street Partners developed Hathorne Hill, and it was built by Nauset Construction, Middlemass said.

College Street Partners also helped develop the former Northeast Health System’s Beverly Hospital at Danvers ambulatory care facility next door, which is now part of Lahey Health. Genesis HealthCare is a tenant in its new facility.

Middlemass said Hathorne Hill will serve as a blueprint for other Genesis HealthCare facilities. The organization has more than 400 skilled nursing homes and assisted-living facilities in 28 states.

The development of Hathorne Hill on 9 acres of the Lowlands of the former Danvers State Hospital was not without some issues when it was first proposed. In 2010, developers won a variance to requirements that limited the density of development on the site.

“The Planning Board made a change,” said Town Manager Wayne Marquis, who said it’s exciting that the nursing home is finally complete.


Staff writer Ethan Forman can be reached at 978-338-2673, by email at or on Twitter at @DanverSalemNews.