Under new leadership and with a plan for the future, Pine Run Community enjoys a renaissance
by Leigh Stuart

Doylestown’s Pine Run Community was at a crossroads in 2010. It was built in 1976 and required investment in infrastructure that the wear and tear of the years requires. There was—and continues to be—fierce competition in the senior housing market.

Today, Pine Run is thriving and the future is bright. Many factors contributed to the reinvestment and rejuvenation of the community and the health care services it offers, beginning with the 2010 arrival of Cathleen Stewart as executive director.

When Stewart first arrived at Pine Run, she discovered a group of Associates with years of dedicated service to the community.

“Some of them were anxious about the future of a place they loved so well,” Stewart says. “The first thing we did was create a team to begin developing a master plan. We needed to make investments in the community, both financially and programmatically. The master plan became our guide, and we continue to coordinate our actions by referencing it.”

The plan encompassed the modernization of the Pine Run Health Center, renovations to cottages and common areas on the 43-acre campus, and construction of new cottages. Planning for the replacement and expansion of the community center—“The Hub”—is ongoing.

Among the first members of the master planning team was Carolyn Della-Rodolfa, a member of the Village Improvement Association (VIA) and chairman of Doylestown Hospital, the flagship of Doylestown Health. Pine Run Community is an integral part of Doylestown Health, a nonprofit, community health system. The VIA, a women’s organization, was formed in 1895 to improve the quality of life in Doylestown.

“After re-envisioning the independent living campus and beginning work on the cottages and landscaping, the first major component of the master plan was to renovate our health center,” Stewart says. Doylestown Health committed $11 million over three years to the Pine Run Health Center project.

The work at the Health Center involved all five floors. Enhancements ranged from upgrades and accents in the secure dementia “neighborhood,” dining café and chapel. Perhaps most significantly, the skilled nursing floors were renovated, the number of beds rose from 74 to 90, and advances in electronic medical records and collaboration with other partners in Doylestown Health improved—and continues to improve—the outcomes of care.

While renovations at the Health Center were underway, the next phase of the master plan for the cottages and apartments on the Pine Run campus was phased in.

The improvements to the overall campus came as a direct result of Pine Run listening to what residents—or “Villagers” in the Pine Run lexicon—wanted and then responding. At present, gardens throughout the 43-acre campus are getting a facelift. Each cluster of homes has a courtyard that is being renovated, with updated plantings, pathways to seating areas and pavilions. “[Villagers] like each other, and they like being together,” Stewart says, explaining that this was enough of an impetus to renovate communal spaces where residents can enjoy one another’s company.

Stewart’s vision, Della-Rodolfa says, has come to fruition. “The cottages are beautiful and homey with wonderful enhancements,” Della-Rodolfa asserts. “The Health Center has been transformed into a wonderful, modern facility with upscale dining service, modern baths, private rooms and a spacious rehab gym.

“Pine Run has a new life,” she continues, “one we are proud to show off.”

In addition to the physical changes, Stewart encouraged the service-oriented culture that was already present at Pine Run. She is conducting a series of “fireside chats” to assure Villagers that the renovations touch every corner of the campus. These discussions also provide a forum for asking questions ranging from, “When is the dust going to settle?” to “Will the newly planted flowers be as beautiful as the ones that are already here?”

“This goes back to the passion I have for the seniors in this community,” Stewart says, adding that she is driven by the desire to form genuine connections with Villagers to ensure that each person at Pine Run has the best experience possible.

Pine Run’s enrollment numbers prove just how effective its renaissance has been. Occupancy for independent living was at 77 percent capacity when Stewart arrived; today occupancy is at 95 percent capacity. There has been similar growth in the occupancy of personal care areas, including The Garden, a secured dementia care neighborhood, and Lakeview (on a separate campus in Doylestown), which rose from 88 percent in 2010 to 99 percent in 2015.

Pine Run also places a strong emphasis on holistic wellness, taking into account not only physical health but also emotional and spiritual wellness. Pine Run boasts clubs and activities dedicated to the arts and aquatics, as well as exercise classes, meditation, tai chi and continuing education through Pine Run’s “Keep on Learning” initiative. There is also a spectrum of mental health and support services for individuals who, for example, have spouses in declining health.

Pine Run’s critical role as a member of Doylestown Health sets it apart from other retirement communities. The Health Center and retirement community are connected to and integrated with a nationally recognized hospital and health system.

Service is a central tenet of the Pine Run philosophy. Stewart’s “Make Their Day!” initiative is one example of the service-oriented mindset that drives Pine Run and all its associates to go above and beyond for residents. This also inspired the annual “Make a Wish Day,” a holiday of sorts, wherein residents can ask for a service beyond the normal scope of what Pine Run offers.

“Whether it’s getting their car washed, having their refrigerator cleaned out or having their dog groomed—it can be a variety of things that are above and beyond—we have associates who will come out to make that wish happen,” Stewart says.

The Villagers of Pine Run also do their part to make wishes happen in the community, through two communitywide events each year. The first is an art show held each May for Bucks County residents ages 55 and older, and the second is the Fall Festival, held annually in early October. This event draws hundreds of people from Bucks County and beyond to Pine Run to enjoy face painting, pumpkin painting, raffles, baked goods and hearty chowder. New to the 2015 event festival was a “rain gutter regatta” organized by the Boy Scouts, wherein miniature sailboats were raced in rain gutters.

From activities to hospitality to facilities, Pine Run’s commitment to excellence can be traced back to the VIA.

“We are, one cottage at a time, one cluster at a time, trying to enhance [Villagers’] lives,” Stewart says. “They deserve it.”

Pine Run Retirement Community
777 Ferry Road
Doylestown, PA 18901-2119

Photograph by Allure West Studios