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Danvers welcomes arrival of new rehab health facility

The rehab gym at the new Hathorne Hill Rehabilitation and Care Center in Danvers.

Genesis HealthCare

The rehab gym at the new Hathorne Hill Rehabilitation and Care Center in Danvers.

Six years after Beverly Hospital at Danvers opened near the bottom of Hathorne Hill, it has a new health care neighbor.

The Hathorne Hill Rehabilitation and Care Center, located on the nine-acre lowlands section of the former Danvers State Hospital campus off Route 62, began accepting patients in February. The $14 million center offers 40 skilled nursing beds and 80 beds for patients needing short-term rehabilitation.

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The 113-year-old mental hospital was closed by the state in 1991. The 72,000-square-foot Hathorne Hill center on Kirkbride Drive was built on the last section of hospital land set aside for redevelopment.

The new center is being warmly received by town officials.

“It’s a very impressive facility, very well thought out,” said Bill Clark, chairman of the Board of Selectmen, who got an early glimpse of the center during construction several months ago.

Clark said the town had originally intended the lowlands to be used for offices and recreation, but he believes both Hathorne Hill and Beverly Hospital’s medical and day surgery center will be “great assets for the community.”

The plan to build offices was scrapped due to limited demand. In place of recreational facilities at the site, Avalon Bay Communities, the master developer of the campus, helped fund the cost of rebuilding athletic fields at the Thorpe School.

The new center will help Genesis embrace the industry-wide shift away from the ‘institutionalized model to a model that is more home-based, or community-based.’

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Clark said the Hathorne Hill center will bring new tax revenues for the town. As an undeveloped parcel in fiscal 2012, the site generated $32,000 in taxes. This year, the figure rose to $121,052, and next year the fully developed parcel will bring in $158,000, according to Marlene Locke, the town’s chief assessor.

“I think it’s an appropriate development for the area,” said Selectman Daniel Bennett. “I look forward to seeing how it operates.”

To date, about 100, or 80 percent, of Hathorne Hill’s beds are occupied, according to Genesis HealthCare, the center’s operator.

The new center replaces the 100-bed Cedar Glen Care and Rehabilitation Center on Summer Street, which closed in mid-Februry. All 64 patients were relocated to the new facility.

Pennsylvania-based Genesis last December acquired the parent company of SunBridge Healthcare, which operated Cedar Glen and would have run the Hathorne Hill facility. Genesis also took over SunBridge’s 101-bed Twin Oaks Care and Rehabilitation Center on Locust Street.

With its recent acquisiton, Genesis now operates 429 skilled nursing centers in 30 states, and offers rehabilitation services in those and other facilities.

The Hathorne Hill center is being operated by Genesis under a long-term lease with College Street Partners, a Beverly-based firm that served as the project developer.

Genesis officials say that the 30,000-square-foot Cedar Glen facility, built as a hotel in 1968, was outdated.

“This project is really for us a flagship project,” said Peter Middlemass, vice president of sales and marketing for Genesis’ northeast division.

He said the new center would help Genesis embrace the industry-wide shift away from the “institutionalized model to a model that is more home-based, or community-based. . . . The design concept is vastly different in approach than at an other buildings we have got on the market.”

Rather than long hallways, the building features patient “neighborhoods” with such amenities as fireplaces, small dining rooms, and courtyards. Patient rooms and common areas are also more spacious.

Although it has skilled nursing beds, “the crown jewel of the facility is our rehabilitation department,” Middlemass said.

The first-floor rehab gym is one of the company’s largest and is fully equipped for patients undergoing physical, occupational, and speech therapies, he said.

Middlemass, who was vice president for business development for SunBridge, said the company chose the location in part because of its longtime ties to the town.

“We have been serving the members of the Danvers community for decades,’’ he said. “We have intimate relationships with the folks at the senior center, the housing authority, and in local government at town hall.”

He said the company also felt a commitment to its employees, some of whom are longtime town residents. The relocation within the town enabled many who had been working at Cedar Glen to find jobs in the new center.

Hathorne Hill’s natural beauty and its close proximity to area highways and hospitals were also factors.

Genesis has no plans to replace its Twin Oaks facility, but intends to gradually shift its focus to caring for patients with Alzheimer’s and dementia, Middlemass said.

Middlemass said no decisions have been made on the future of the Cedar Glen building.

“We have a number of options that have been presented to us and those options are under review,” he said.

John Laidler can be reached at laidler@globe.com.
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