Green House Residences almost ready

Govans Ecumenical Development Corporation (GEDCO) executive director Mitchell Posner, right, and Bob Keenan, director of media relations at Catholic Charities of Baltimore, stand near a specialized bathtub at The Green House Residences at Stadium Place, a long-term nursing facility that is under construction at the former site of Memorial Stadium, Friday, Jan. 13. The facility is scheduled to open in April. (Photo by Steve Ruark / January 13, 2012)

When the Govans Ecumenical Development Corp. opens its trend-setting Harry and Jeannette Weinberg Green House Residences at Stadium Place this spring, GEDCO won't be running the long-term elder care community.

The operator will be Catholic Charities.

GEDCO, a builder of affordable housing for seniors in north and northeast Baltimore, plans to open the new $12.6 million facility, considered a model for Maryland, officially April 19, with Gov. Martin O'Malley expected to be on hand.

A job fair, mostly for registered nurses and geriatric nurses' aides, is set for Thursday, Jan. 19, and Saturday, Jan. 21, at GEDCO's Venable II apartment complex at Stadium Place, 1030 E. 33rd St.

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But Catholic Charities, not GEDCO, is organizing the job fair and will be responsible for hiring and day-to-day management of the Green House, including paying the staff, bills, and rent to GEDCO, said GEDCO Executive Director Mitchell Posner.

Two banners will hang near the front entrance, one for Catholic Charities saying, "Cherishing the divine within," and the other saying, "GEDCO: Building caring and compassionate communities."

GEDCO operates its other housing complexes, including the Venable and Ednor apartment buildings at Stadium Place, on the site of the old Memorial Stadium. But, since the Green House will require skilled nursing care, GEDCO is handing the management reins over to Catholic Charities, which has experience in that part of the health care industry, Posner said.

Although Posner envisions the Green House Residences as "a next step" in the continuum of health care for seniors in Maryland, "we're not in the business of running a skilled nursing care facility," he said. "We're good at developing buildings."

He said Catholic Charities already manages similar facilities including the 162-bed St. Elizabeth Rehabilitation and Nursing Center in Baltimore, and that Catholic Charities would be the "most compatible" partner to run the Green House Residences.

During a tour Friday, Jan. 13, Posner and Catholic Charities director of media relations Bob Keenan showed the mostly completed Green House building with its views of the city skyline. Each of the four floors is like a 12-bedroom apartment, with its own common kitchen, dining and living room areas called "hearths," dens for watching TV and socializing, therapeutic spa rooms, and group porches overlooking a ball park between Stadium Place and the Y of Central Maryland.

The park was built by a foundation run by former Oriole Cal Ripken Jr. and his family and is run by the Y, Posner said.

The building as a whole will have a staff of about 50 working around the clock in eight-hour shifts, including geriatric aides trained to Green House standards and known as Shahbazim.

Catholic Charities is also advertising for the positions of "house" nurses, "life enrichment professional," "elder advocate" (a social worker and housekeepers.

"They're really a leader in the city," Posner said of Catholic Charities. "This is an area of expertise that we don't have. It's a medical model (and) licensed differently by the state."

Ecumenical commitment

Posner said he doesn't expect any problems stemming from the fact that Catholic Charities is faith-based and GEDCO is more ecumenical.

"We kind of leave that at the door, if you will," he said.

He noted that a division of Catholic Charities builds affordable housing.

"They don't just do it for Catholics, and they don't try to convert them," he said.

Posner also said that part of GEDCO's mission statement is to work in partnership with faith-based communities to help people in need.