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Keswick Multi-Care Center CEO to retire at end of year

This is Libby Bowerman's legacy after 13 years as chief executive officer of Keswick Multi-Care Center in Hampden.

"I've spent a lot of money," she said.

Bowerman will retire Jan. 3, after shepherding along at least $50 million worth of construction projects at one of the largest continuing care retirement centers in Maryland.

"That's a conservative (cost) estimate," she said.

Bowerman gave Keswick's board of directors plenty of notice that she intended to retire at age 70 and the board, after a national search, has already named her successor to run the 286-bed facility, at 700 W. 40th St., opposite the Rotunda.

The new CEO is Carmel Roques, the chief operating officer of Virginia United Methodist Homes, which operates three facilities similar to Keswick.

Originally a women's health care center in downtown Baltimore, Keswick purchased the old Egerton estate in north Baltimore in 1921.

Bauerschmidt was built in 1939 as Keswick began to accept male patients.

Today, Keswick offers long-term and short-term care as well as memory care and assisted living. The vast majority of its patients are short-term

Bowerman, of Ellicott City, came to Keswick from a similar job at the Brightwood retirement community in Lutherville, where she was executive director.

At Keswick, she has overseen the construction of a covered entrance to Keswick's Coggins Building.

Under Bowerman's watch, Keswick has razed the old Singley Building, where the main parking lot is now. She keeps an old brick from Singley in her office.

Much of the office space in Coggins, Keswick's main building, has been reconfigured, and the gift shop has nearly doubled in size.

Keswick has razed Casey House and built the Baker Building, a $13 million nursing center for short-term patients.

A memory care unit for residents with dementia and Alzheimer's disease is located in what used to be the Bauerschmidt Building for long-term nursing care. A covered walkway connects Coggins to the new unit.

Residents' rooms in Coggins, as well as the living and dining rooms and nurses' station, have been upgraded and renovated.

Keswick started an asbestos abatement project, which is expected to be finished in March, on the third floor of Coggins, Bowerman said.

And as she posed for photos outside Coggins on Dec. 1, workers on top of the building were wrapping up a $300,000 replacement of the original 1973 roof.

Keswick was prepared to spend another $12.5 million to buy about 17 acres of Baltimore Country Club land for use as a retirement center. But in the face of fierce opposition from Roland Park residents, Keswick gave up the plan in 2009.

Bowerman remembers that time as "the dark days."

But she leaves with overall pride and said she thinks the building boom is her biggest accomplishment.

"I think this campus is well-positioned to move into whatever health care is going to become," she said.

What that will be exactly is still "murky," Bowerman said, because aging baby boomers might shake up the health care industry as they did education.

She sees a trend of short-term, specialty care, and a move toward community-based satellite offices. She also thinks health care reimbursement policies could drive a lot of trends.

Long-term care is on the wane and will survive only if there is "a lot more choice of services" for seniors, Bowerman said.

"It's the end of an era as I know it, and the future is just not clear," she said.

But then she added with a grin, "It's clear for me. I'm clearing out."

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