When the Leonard Florence Center for Living opened its doors in 2010, it was the first urban model Green House® skilled nursing facility in the country. It was also the only nursing home to dedicate residences to individuals living with ALS and MS. On Feb. 24, the Center celebrated its 10th anniversary with heartfelt tributes to the residents and staff who have turned a building into a warm and welcoming home.

“From the very beginning, our goal was to provide the best possible care to seniors and those living with debilitating conditions,” said Barry Berman, CEO of Chelsea Jewish Lifecare, the nonprofit organization that operates the Leonard Florence Center. He further explained, “Living in a residence that offers all the amenities of a real home, supported by a caring and compassionate staff, greatly enhances one’s quality of life.”

Not Your Typical Nursing Home

The Center features state-of the-art kitchens, spacious dining rooms and fireplace living rooms for every 10 rooms. While traditional nursing homes rely upon one central kitchen to prepare food for the entire facility, the aroma of freshly cooked food reinforces the home concept. Each of the 100 spacious private rooms sport floor-to-ceiling windows and baths with showers. Residents have choices of what they eat and when they eat it. Gathering spaces include a New York-style deli, salon, spa, chapel, café, bakery, library and beautifully landscaped outdoor patio.

What’s also unique: This revolutionary residence includes 30 rooms devoted to individuals diagnosed with ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) and MS (multiple sclerosis). Many of the residents are completely immobilized, but through cutting-edge technology are able to control lights, turn on the TV, call for the elevator, open doors and raise window shades, all with help from a computer and sensor that tracks head and eye movements for instruction. Today, the award-winning Center cares for more individuals living with ALS than any place else in the world.

Six ALS and MS residents who moved into the building in 2010 continue to call the Center their home. One example is Steve Saling, an architect who helped design the Center after he was diagnosed with ALS. Steve was originally given a life span of two to five years. Twelve years later, Steve is able to spend time with his family, travel, go skiing, sailing and even skydiving. “There is a tremendous need for these homes,” said Barry Berman. “We get calls from families all over the world whose loved ones have been diagnosed with ALS or MS. Our vision is to open more homes to help individuals living with these debilitating diseases.”

Notably, 40 employees have worked at the Leonard Florence Center since it opened in 2010. The group was honored at the anniversary celebration, with each employee receiving a special plaque. Additionally, they will be treated to an all-day outing in the coming month.

“This is an extraordinary milestone,” said Adam Berman, president of Chelsea Jewish Lifecare. “Continuity of care is an important factor in creating a nurturing and compassionate environment. In reality, our employees are the very essence of the Leonard Florence Center. They make a huge difference in the day-to-day lives of our residents.”

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