Mainstreet Hires Green House Founder Bill Thomas

A pioneer in new models of senior care, Dr. Bill Thomas, will be joining Mainstreet, a company known for its innovations in post-acute and transitional care services.

“Mainstreet is committed to fundamentally changing the way health care is delivered nationwide,” Mainstreet founder and CEO Zeke Turner said in a prepared statement Wednesday. “With the addition of Dr. Thomas, our intent is to do something disruptive, to reinvent the entire ‘senior care’ sector. He is a top innovative mind within health care and with his collaboration, we plan to take an intolerable product and make it something desirable.”

A Harvard-trained geriatrician, Thomas founded global non-profit The Eden Alternative and created The Green House Project. From its inception in the early 1990s, Eden Alternative was an early proponent of “person-centered care,” helping to drive the so-called “culture change” movement in nursing homes and other senior living settings. While there are several facets of culture change, a key tenet is moving away from institutional, top-down decision-making in order to empower seniors.

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The Green House Project marked another shift away from institutional care. Green Houses are small residences—typically accommodating about 10 seniors—that are staffed differently than a nursing home and emphasize residents’ autonomy. Since the first Green House homes opened in 2003, more than 100 have been built nationwide. The movement has attracted widespread media attention, including a recent New York Times article that highlighted its “more personal, homelike care.”

The innovations associated with Mainstreet have been of a different type. Founded in 2002, the company has grown to be nation’s largest developer of post-acute, transitional care properties. Rather than the homey, residential atmosphere associated with Green House homes, Mainstreet properties are known for having hotel-like amenities and design features. 

Thomas comes on board as Mainstreet is starting a new chapter, however. In 2014, the company announced that it would launch its own operating company, Mainstreet Health. It is this company that Thomas is joining, as director of innovative health care.

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In this role, he will help in the “design, development and operation” of Mainstreet’s post-acute and long-term care operations.

In addition to his willingness to disrupt the status quo, Thomas’ network of industry connections will be of assistance as Mainstreet expands into this new venture, the company noted in announcing his hiring. Thomas will help create its “NextGen” long-term care model and incorporate community-based health care services as it readies the first Mainstreet Health properties. There currently are 10 projects in the pipeline for development and operation this year.

“Senior services is entering an exciting new phase that is going to reward innovators and risk takers with sustained growth and offer consumers more choices and significantly better experiences and outcomes,” Thomas stated in the press release issued Wednesday. “Joining Mainstreet places me at the epicenter of a revolution that is transforming the field of long-term care.”

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Written by Tim Mullaney

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