Under the leadership of Cathleen Stewart,
Pine Run Community’s renaissance —
and its commitment to enhance Villagers’
quality of life — continues
Allure West Studios
In 2010, the future of Pine Run Community in Doylestown did not look promising. The infrastructure had become dated and occupancy was in decline, leading the Village Improvement Association and Doylestown Hospital, the governor and owner of the community, respectively, to consider shutting down Pine Run altogether. Yet today, just five short years later, Pine Run Community is thriving.
How did this happen? There are a number of factors, not the least of which is the expert leadership of Cathleen Stewart. Stewart, who began her tenure as executive director of Pine Run in 2010, came into the position with a plan to turn the community around.
“What I found was a group of associates who had been here for a long time and who really loved Pine Run,” Stewart says of her first impression of the community in 2010. “They were sad to have seen it become tired, and wanted to be part of bringing it back to life. They were somewhat disheartened but not ready to give up on Pine Run.”
Spurred forward by the dedication of these associates, as well as her own passion for high quality senior living honed over 30 years of professional experience with senior living facilities, Stewart went to work reinventing and revitalizing Pine Run.
“When I first met Cathleen we were interviewing for the executive director position,” says Carolyn Della-Rodolfa, chairman of the board at Doylestown Hospital and a VIA member. “Pine Run at that time was in sad straits and we were not sure what, if anything, could be done to improve it. Cathleen not only saw its potential, but she had a clear, positive vision for what it could be.”
“One of the first things I did was get together with the team and look at developing a master plan,” Stewart says. “We needed to put an investment in the community, so we created a plan and that has been our guide going forward. After re-envisioning the independent living campus, the first major component of the plan was to renovate our health center.”
Pine Run invested $11 million in facilities upgrades across all five floors of its health center. Improvements included revitalization of the secured dementia neighborhood and the dining café and chapel. Additionally, the number of skilled nursing beds in the community rose from 74 to 90, with the new beds being added to the second floor, which Stewart notes had been vacant for seven years prior to her arrival.
The improvements to the overall campus came as a direct result of Pine Run listening to what residents—or “Villagers,” in the Pine Run lexicon—wanted and then responding. At present, gardens throughout the 43-acre campus are getting a facelift. Each cluster of homes has a courtyard that is being renovated, with updated plantings, pathways to seating areas and pavilions. “[Villagers] like each other, and they like being together,” Stewart says, explaining that this was enough of an impetus to renovate communal spaces where residents can enjoy one another’s company.
Stewart’s vision, Della-Rodolfa says, has come to fruition. “The cottages are beautiful and homey with wonderful enhancements,” Della-Rodolfa asserts. “The health center has been transformed into a wonderful, modern facility with upscale dining service, modern baths, private rooms and a spacious rehab gym.
“Pine Run has a new life,” she continues, “one we are proud to show off.”
As further evidence of Pine Run’s modern, service-oriented philosophy, Stewart is conducting a series of “fireside chats” to assure Villagers that the renovations touch every corner of the campus. These discussions also provide a forum for asking questions ranging from, “When is the dust going to settle?” to “Will the newly planted flowers be as beautiful as the ones that are already here?” “This goes back to the passion I have for the seniors in this community,” Stewart says, adding that she is driven by the desire to form genuine connections with Villagers to ensure that each person at Pine Run has the best experience possible.
Not surprisingly, Stewart says there are big plans for the future of Pine Run as well. For example, the community center portion of the campus, referred to as “the hub,” will expand—doubling its current size, in fact. Although exact dates aren’t yet set, plans are already in the works to add to the architecture of the community by upgrading the center to include a pool, fitness center and state-of-the-art auditorium, as well as more dining venues, including an outdoor dining area.
Pine Run’s enrollment numbers prove just how effective its renaissance has been. Occupancy for independent living was at 77 percent capacity when Stewart started; today occupancy is at 95 percent capacity. There has been similar growth in the occupancy of personal care areas, including Lakeview and the secured dementia care neighborhood, which rose from 88 percent in 2010 to 99 percent in 2015.
In addition to facilities, Pine Run places a strong emphasis on holistic wellness, taking into account not only physical health but also emotional and spiritual wellness. Pine Run boasts clubs and activities dedicated to the arts and aquatics as well as exercise classes, meditation, tai chi and continuing education through Pine Run’s “Keep on Learning” initiative. There is also a spectrum of mental health and support services for individuals who, for example, have spouses in declining health.
Service is a central tenet of the Pine Run philosophy. Stewart’s “Make Their Day!” initiative is one example of the service oriented mindset that drives Pine Run and all its associates to go above and beyond for residents. This also inspired the annual “Make a Wish Day,” a holiday of sorts wherein residents can ask for a service beyond the normal scope of what Pine Run offers. “Whether it’s getting their car washed, having their refrigerator cleaned out or having their dog groomed—it can be a variety of things that are above and beyond— we have associates who will come out to make that wish happen,” Stewart says.
The Villagers of Pine Run also do their part to make wishes happen in the community, through two community-wide events each year. The first is an art show held each May for Bucks County residents ages 55 and older, and the second is the Fall Festival, held annually in early October. This event draws hundreds of people from Bucks County and beyond to Pine Run to enjoy face painting, pumpkin painting, raffles, baked goods and hearty chowder. New for this year was a “rain gutter regatta” organized by the Boy Scouts, wherein miniature sailboats were raced in rain gutters.
From activities to hospitality to facilities, Pine Run’s commitment to excellence can be traced back to the VIA. This group of women, which organized in 1895 and funded the construction of Doylestown Hospital in 1923, remains in a leadership position to this day.
“We are, one cottage at a time, one cluster at a time, trying to enhance [Villagers’] lives,” Stewart says. “They deserve it.”