Maplewood CEO: We’re Pushing the Envelope with Health Systems, Co-Developments Possible

Maplewood Senior Living’s in-progress community on the campus of Penn Medicine Princeton Campus in Plainsboro, New Jersey stands out as another entry in the growing trend of tying senior housing to health care systems.

This is something that Maplewood has embraced throughout its history and long before health care providers embraced the concept, founder and CEO Gregory Smith told Senior Housing News. Today, Maplewood continues to be a leader in this area, and is even pursuing a potential co-development deal with a health system on the West Coast as it expands into that market.

When the Westport, Connecticut-based owner and operator built its first community in Danbury, Connecticut in 2005, it stood out because it was located adjacent to a medical campus, and the company has always looked at the integration of senior housing and health care in its development pipeline.

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“At the time, we believed that having access to a hospital was a good thing for residents. There is a sense of comfort knowing that health care was next door and as we matured, [our strategy] was about finding markets where supply was not as abundant,” he said.

Today, the company operates 15 communities in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Ohio.

Princeton HealthCare — the predecessor to Penn Medicine — approached Maplewood about building senior housing on its campus a few years ago, Smith told SHN. The company was looking for an assisted living provider to build on campus and, after developing a relationship where the two parties found common ground, Maplewood made an offer.

“It was nice to be able to have someone come back to us after hearing about our organization and how we focus on health care and wellness and say, ‘Hey, would you guys be interested in putting a shingle up here on the medical campus,” he said.

Penn Medicine, which acquired Princeton HealthCare System in 2018, will provide a range of services for the community’s residents when the Plainsboro development opens in spring 2021.

This, Smith believes, can replicate the same effect as being next door, and will be a key element of Maplewood’s future development strategy.

The Plainsboro development — a 98,000-square-foot facility with 105 units of assisted living and memory care — will be adjacent to the hospital and a 65,000-square-foot wellness center serving multiple age demographics.

Health systems providing services in its communities marks a progression in Maplewood’s development strategy. As the health care industry continues its shift from centralized campuses to more localized care, providers are exploring and entering affiliations and partnerships with health care systems to bring services to residents.

Health systems and payers are recognizing that senior living providers can play a valuable role in population health efforts, by helping keep their resident populations well and out of expensive settings such as hospitals.

The Plainsboro development is only one area where Maplewood is looking for deeper integration of health care in its communities. The company is looking at ways to incorporate home health and care services into Inspir Carnegie Hill, its $300 million luxury community in Manhattan.

The company also partnered with Norwalk Hospital and its parent company, Western Connecticut Medical Group, on a $100 million health center on the site of a former YMCA campus in Norwalk, Connecticut. The development will feature an assisted living facility, medical office space and a fitness center.

And Maplewood is in talks with health systems on the West Coast about opportunities there, including the possibility of a co-development partnership, although it is too early to share further details, Smith said.

“That’s where we’re driving our attention. We want to be cutting edge in the space and we are pushing the envelope of what we can do,” he said.
Maplewood first teased a West Coast expansion to Senior Housing News in November 2018. Should it strike a co-development partnership with a health system there, it would be one of the first examples of such an arrangement.

Houston-based Belmont Village led the way, forging a co-development deal with Baptist Health South Florida for a pipeline of communities in the Sunshine State.

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