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January 24, 2008

Dr. Bill Thomas’ Transformative ‘Green House’ Featured on the Newshour

Kavan Peterson
Office: 410-455-1896

BALTIMORE – Dr. Bill Thomas, outspoken nursing home reformer and professor of aging at the Erickson School at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, was featured on the Newshour on PBS Jan. 23 in a special report on his innovative Green House project to transform nursing home care.

Click here to watch on streaming video.

Thomas’ Green House project is a radically new approach to long term care where nursing homes are torn down and replaced with small, home-like environments where people can live a full and interactive life. Launched as a pilot project in 2003, there are now 35 Green Houses up and running on 13 campuses across the country. In partnership with a nonprofit, NCB Capital Impact, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is spending nearly $10 million to replicate the model nationwide.

Thomas, an internationally-recognized authority on eldercare, was interviewed by Newshour health correspondent Susan Dentzer while visiting one of his ‘Green Houses’ in Lincoln, Neb. The twelve-minute story highlights innovative characteristics of the Green House concept, which is intended to de-institutionalize long-term care by eliminating large nursing facilities and creating close-knit communities of patients and caregivers.

The Green House model is designed to be a home for nine to 12 elders. It blends architecturally with neighboring homes, includes vibrant outdoor space, and utilizes aesthetically appealing interior features. Each elder has a private room or unit with a private bathroom. Elders' rooms receive high levels of sunlight and are situated around an open kitchen and dining area. There are no nursing stations

“We've always insisted in the Green House that there be one big table, because that makes a meal into a community experience, where food and companionship come together,” Dr. Thomas told the Newshour.

The Green House model has been endorsed by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. In June 2007, researchers at the University of Minnesota released a longitudinal study of the first group of Green Houses, built in Tupelo, Miss. It showed residents received equal or better quality of care than in traditional nursing homes and they reported a higher quality of life. The average charge for residents at Green Houses is comparable to the cost of traditional nursing homes.

Click here to learn more about the Green House Replication Initiative.

About Dr. Thomas

William H. Thomas, M.D. is a geriatrician and a visionary with an international reputation as one of the leading authorities on the future of aging and longevity. He is founder of the Eden Alternative, a global nonprofit organization, and a professor at the Erickson School at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, where is teaching his innovative concepts on reforming long term care. He lives in Ithaca, NY, with his wife, Judith Meyers-Thomas, and their five children.

Dr. Thomas has published a half a dozen books, the most recent of which is What Are Old People For? How Elders Will Save the World. The book, which American Medical Writers Association named it the “Book of the Year” in 2005, explores the virtues concealed within the necessity of aging.

In conjunction with his books and research projects and advocacy, Dr. Thomas has been interviewed by a broad range of television, radio and print media including CNN, 48 Hours, Talk of the Nation, All Things Considered, Morning Edition, Fast Company ,The New York Times, Washington Post and Newsweek Magazine Time Magazine, The CBS Early Show, and was chosen by US News World Report Magazine as one of "America's best leaders."

About the Erickson School

The Erickson School at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County was created with a $5 million commitment from John Erickson, CEO and founder Erickson Retirement Communities, and matching state funds. The School integrates aging, management, and policy in each of its programs, with a strong emphasis on preparing leaders for the 21st century. The School offers credit and non-credit educational programs at the undergraduate, masters, and executive levels.

Posted by kavan at January 24, 2008 10:25 AM