Susan Shea is President and CEO of the Presbyterian Home of Maryland, a faith-based, not-for-profit organization in the process of developing the first continuing care retirement community (CCRC) in Harford County. Founded in 1883, for more than 130 years the Presbyterian Home of Maryland has been providing Christian-based retirement living and healthcare through a continuum of life in a warm and caring environment at its Towson facility. The Home is known for the excellent quality of care it provides to its residents as well as their families and caregivers.
Born and raised in Towson, Shea began her career in the dietary department of the Presbyterian Home when she was 16 years old. Her goal was to save enough money to buy a car. Shea soon transitioned to an administrative assistant position and has held many different positions in her long career with the Home while attending and graduating from Towson University. In 1994 Shea was named President and CEO – quite a long way from the young girl who “just wanted to buy a car!”
Shea is responsible for the community 24 hours a day, seven days a week. She oversees every aspect of the business, from full-time operations at the Towson facility (including managing a staff of 80) to planning the new community in Harford County. “You name it, I do it,” she laughs. On average the Home supports 75 residents, providing everything from nutritional support to individual and group activities, wellness programs, transportation services, healthcare and more.
Shea’s passion and commitment to her work is evident and her enthusiasm is contagious. Thirty-seven years after beginning her career with the Presbyterian Home of Maryland, she is more committed to the Home’s mission than ever. “I really like working with the senior population, especially in a community like ours that allows all of our independent and assisted living residents to live life to the fullest and our healthcare residents to live their life with dignity. A rich and full retirement life has been earned and we’re here to make sure it’s enjoyed.”
|About the New CCRC
Fast Facts • For residents 60 and up
• Single-family villas and apart-ments for independent living
• Licensed assisted living services
• Common areas and community room open to public Amenities
• Multiple dining facilities and pub
• Net fiscal benefit approaching $800K/year
This commitment is why she and her staff are dedicated to do whatever it takes to meet the physical and psychological needs of every resident while also providing support to their families and caregivers. Shea points out, “The adult children of our residents are struggling with a total role reversal in which they basically become the parent. We try to do whatever we can to make the process easier for them as well as providing excellent care to their parents.”
Shea is committed to expanding the reach of the Home’s mission to serve a greater population. After overseeing six expansion projects and several smaller renovations at the Towson location, in 2002 the Board of Directors under Shea’s leadership and guidance began to pursue other opportunities for growth. Harford County seemed to be a natural fit – with a senior population expected to expand significantly over the next decade, it does not currently have a CCRC. Seniors looking to age in place – progressing from independent living to full nursing or dementia care – are forced to leave the county.
With property secured for the new CCRC, Shea is optimistic Harford County seniors will soon be able to enjoy the same quality of care and excellent reputation the Presbyterian Home of Maryland has provided its residents for more than 130 years. “We look forward to the chance to spread our mission farther and touch more people’s lives,” she says.
According to independent analysis from the Sage Policy Group, the new CCRC is projected to generate a net fiscal benefit for Harford County of nearly $800,000 per year. The project will add 160 permanent jobs in the county resulting in additional tax revenue and up to $15 million in annual sales for area business. Perhaps that’s why Director of Harford County Economic Development Jim Richardson is such an enthusiastic supporter of the project, saying, “Presbyterian Home is an outstanding organization that has been working for several years to bring their first class faculty to Harford County. I couldn’t be more pleased that our citizens will have the opportunity to stay near their family and friends as they move into retirement, and know that Presbyterian Home will provide a quality and caring venue.” I95