Expanded Peabody campus will consolidate Aviv care facilities

Groundbreaking planned for March

By John Laidler
Globe Correspondent / December 30, 2010

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The operator of Woodbridge Assisted Living is preparing to break ground this March on a $35 million expansion at its Peabody campus.

Aviv Centers for Living plans to construct a 144-bed skilled nursing facility that will be attached to its 130-unit assisted living building on Lynnfield Street.

Through the project, the 65-year-old nonprofit intends to consolidate its facilities at the Peabody site, which will mean closing its existing 176-bed Jewish Rehabilitation Center, on Paradise Road in Swampscott, and relocating its Shapiro-Rudolph Adult Day Center from the Swampscott site to the new Peabody building.

Aviv has secured all its needed local permits, and a critical certificate from the state Department of Public Health. The company is still awaiting the agency’s final approval of its overall building plans, but is confident of receiving it, said Stephen H. Neff, Aviv’s president and CEO.

“The fastest-growing demographic on the North Shore are people 75 and over, and to deliver the type of care we need to deliver, we need a state-of-the-art, mostly private-room facility to do it in,’’ Neff said, noting that the new building will meet those criteria.

He said the project will enable Aviv to respond better to the shift in senior care, which he said has moved increasingly from hospitals to skilled nursing sites, and now to assisted living facilities.

“This facility will be competitive with services that are now done in hospitals, but at $600 a day less than the cost of a hospital,’’ Neff said.

He said the 19-acre Peabody campus is also an ideal location for a skilled nursing facility, given its ready highway access and the area’s expanding number of other health care facilities.

Neff said another major benefit of the project is consolidation, observing: “This puts our expertise on one campus for a true continuum of care.’’

In addition to housing the assisted living, skilled nursing, and adult day center, the consolidated site will serve as home base for Aviv’s new geriatric care management service — which is mostly based now at the Swampscott site — and its home health care unit, now based at Woodbridge.

Peabody Mayor Michael J. Bonfanti said he is supportive of Woodbridge and of the project.

“They’ve been good neighbors . . . and they are providing a quality and needed service. We work very well together. . . . And we are extremely pleased that they are going to be doing $35 million in construction,’’ he said, noting that that would bring new jobs and revenues to the city.

Neff said the project is expected to create 300 temporary construction jobs. No new permanent jobs will be added, but Neff said Peabody would benefit because about 200 jobs now in Swampscott would move to the Peabody site, which already has about 100 jobs.

As a nonprofit, Aviv does not pay local taxes. But Neff said the company provides the city with $80,000 in annual payments in lieu of taxes, and plans to increase that amount with the expansion — by how much is the subject of negotiations. He said the company also plans to expand in-kind services to the city, such as providing health fairs and screenings.

Aviv began in 1945 as the Jewish Convalescent Home, in Lynn. In 1951, the organization was renamed the Jewish Home for the Aged. Needing a new facility, the group in 1972 opened the Jewish Rehabilitation Center, in Swampscott.

Woodbridge was opened in 1998 by a separate nonprofit. In 2007, the two organizations merged to form the Jewish Rehabilitation Centers for Living. The new organization in 2009 took its current name from the Hebrew word “aviv,’’ which means “spring’’ and “rebirth,’’ said Neff.

Expected to open in the fall of 2012, the new 115,000-square-foot facility will be named the Waldfogel Health Center, in recognition of a $1 million donation from the Morton and Lillian Waldfogel Foundation.

The 144 beds will include 48 beds for long-term-care patients on the fourth floor; 48 beds for patients undergoing rehabilitation on the third floor; and 48 beds for patients with Alzheimer’s and other memory disorders on the second floor.

The first floor will house the adult day center, as well as a kosher bistro, a learning center, an intergenerational child-care program, and a chapel — amenities that will also be available to residents of the assisted living facility.

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