Homeland Center again receives a perfect score in U.S. News & World Report Best Nursing Homes


Homeland CenterFor the second year straight, Homeland Center received a perfect score from U.S News and World Report, receiving a 5.0 rating in the publication’s Best Nursing Homes 2017-18 released today and available at https://health.usnews.com/best-nursing-homes/area/pa/homeland-center-395475

The recognition comes as Homeland this year celebrates its 150th anniversary. Established after the Civil War to shelter the area’s women and children whose husbands and fathers had died in the Civil War, Homeland is the region’s longest continuously operating healthcare facility.

“Receiving this designation from U.S. News & World Report for two years in a row is a testament to the dedication of our staff and all involved, who truly care about our residents and have a commitment to our mission,’’ said Barry S. Ramper II, Homeland’s President and CEO. “Homeland Center remains committed to providing the highest quality of care to the Central Pennsylvania community for all services we provide.’’

According to U.S. News, only 15 percent of the more than 15,000 nursing homes evaluated nationwide achieved “Best” status by earning a rating of at least 4.5. Homeland also received a perfect rating.

Earlier this year, a poll of Harrisburg Magazine’s more than 50,000 readers resulted in Homeland Center receiving the Readers’ Choice Award for Best Long-Term Care Facility for the sixth straight year.

Homeland is one of the few skilled nursing care facilities in the Central Pennsylvania region to earn the CMS Five-Star rating repeatedly. In judging facilities, U.S. News said it looks at CMS data as part of its overall assessment. More information about U.S. News’ process is available here.

In keeping with its goal to meet the community’s needs, in 2016 Homeland unveiled two new services to help seniors remain in their home while receiving the quality care they require. Homeland HomeCare assists seniors with daily tasks such as meal preparation and transportation, while Homeland HomeHealth provides doctor-ordered medical assistance, ranging from providing intravenous therapy and other medications to physical therapy.

No resident in financial distress has ever been asked to leave, and Homeland’s commitment to charitable, uncompensated care stands as a resource for the community. A nonprofit, 501(c)(3) organization, Homeland relies on the generous support of our friends and neighbors to continue helping the less fortunate. To find out how you can make a difference, call 717-221-7900 or go to www.homelandcenter.org/donate .

“Our mission has changed since our founding in 1867, but our commitment to providing quality care has never wavered,’’ Ramper said. “In keeping with the spirit of our founders, Homeland continues to expand services providing the highest level of individualized quality outcomes.’’

Employee Spotlight: CNA quality supervisor Dawn Mason fills her job with love


Dawn Mason in sunroomCNA quality supervisor fills her job with love!

Dawn Mason was hurrying through her day when a Homeland resident’s advice made her pause.

“You’re going to be more than what you think you are if you just stop and look,” the resident said. Did that mean Mason wasn’t doing her job properly? The resident laughed and said, “Stop moving so fast and just take a breath and look. Life will still be there, but you won’t be if you never pay attention.”

That was a turning point for Mason.

“Everything I do throughout my day, make it meaningful,” she says. “I may not do everything right, but at least I tried, and I’ve taken in the world and what it has to offer.”

Mason is Homeland Center’s CNA QA, sharing quality assurance responsibilities with Sharria Floyd. She supervises Homeland’s CNA staff, assuring that the staffers who provide hands-on care comply with regulations, Homeland procedures, and resident care plans, all to uphold Homeland’s commitment to excellence.

Just as importantly, Mason imparts the vital roles staffers play in maintaining Homeland’s home-like feel and comfort for every resident.

“Our residents expect person-centered care. Our focus is to make sure they get that care, along with compassion, love and respect.”

Mason grew up in Harrisburg with three sisters. Her father, William Mason, worked for the state. Her mother, Dovie Mason, was a Homeland CNA. She remembers once watching her mother dressing in a white dress and white shoes for work. “One day,” she thought, “I’m going to be you.”

Still, the path to nursing care was circuitous. Jobs in the U.S. Post Office and state government left her unfulfilled. Her mother reminded her that she had always been passionate about caring for others, so she entered CNA training and immediately knew that she had found her true calling. She recalled what her mother taught her: “Don’t ever lose your faith, because you lose your faith, you lose your God, and then you can’t love.”

Dawn Mason with residentSince joining Homeland in 2003, her love for the place and the people have helped the ensuing 14 years pass quickly. When she trains staff, she sees some who immediately comprehend the value of their work. Others might struggle, but she watches them overcome their reservations with little signs, like fixing a resident’s hair or engaging them in conversation.

“They are the ones I say ‘good job’ to because those are the ones that never thought they could get it,” said Mason. “You’re never going to get the best work out of anyone if they don’t take pride in what they do.”

Outside Homeland, Mason’s life revolves around family – going to church or watching football with her parents, sisters, and daughters, 23 and 18, and 19-year-old son. One Saturday a month, she watches her five great-nieces and nephews, ages 6 months to 9 years.

“It’s the most fun thing I do,” she says. “I’ll be so worn out the next day, but they keep you going.”

Resident Spotlight: Joanna Kasian found a new life in America


Joanna Kasian found a new life in America!

From working on a family farm in Poland to finding love and raising a family in America, Joanna Kasian has lived a rich life.

“I always have a story to tell,” says the current Homeland Center resident.

Joanna was born in Poland in 1940, one of nine children to a Ukrainian mother and a father who was “Polish, Polish, Polish.”

Her mother’s parents were poor farmers, owning pigs and cattle but never able to afford a horse. Her father came from a more affluent farming family. When he married her mother, they worked hard to make their farm a success, eventually owning horses of their own.

At age 19, Joanna came to America for three months, visiting an aunt in a place she knew only by name: Brooklyn, New York. Stepping off the boat after a six-day crossing, she breathed the air of the U.S. and knew where she wanted to be.

“God help me to stay here,” she prayed.

Her first letter about her arrival went to her best friend from childhood, then living in Allentown, Pennsylvania. That friend had two daughters whose godfather was a friend named Harry Kasian.

“We met and fell in love,” she says. “We got married in 1960, April 5th, to be exact. I guess God heard my prayers.”

Coming to America, she already spoke Polish, Ukrainian, and Russian. With her aptitude for languages, she learned English by continually asking the meanings of words and writing them down.

She and Harry lived in the Easton area, near Allentown. He worked in a factory making conveyor belts. She worked in factories, too — making candy cigarettes, and then “hemming and sewing and serging” for 20 years in a factory making men’s pants.

When that factory closed, she found work an hour away, providing direct care for residents at a New Jersey home for adults with developmental delays and disabilities. She worked different shifts, helping feed and bathe the residents, sometimes changing a diaper or cleaning a soiled bed.

“Believe it or not, I really enjoyed it, and they liked me, too,” she says. “When I retired, they gave me the biggest party.”

What did she like about such grueling work?

“Taking care of others,” she says. “These were people that couldn’t take care of themselves. I’m so proud I did that job.”

At Homeland, she appreciates the aid provided by staff when she needs help. From her room overlooking Homeland’s quiet courtyard and fountain, she says, “I love it here. Love it, love it! I like everything and anything.”

Joanna and her husband raised four children – his son from a previous marriage, plus their two daughters and a son. Their son and youngest daughter are both lawyers. Their older daughter is a teacher.

She remembers some hard times, including a liver condition and operation when she was 9 years old. Paintings in her room of the Last Supper and the Holy Family testify to the abiding faith that helped her endure and thrive.

“This is what helped me to live and stay here,” she says. “I was three years in the hospital when I was a 9 years old. God gave me the life to live long enough to come here, find a man, marry him, and have three wonderful children of my own.”

HSO’s Maestro Malina and friends bring Ludwig and Wolfgang to Homeland


From adagio to scherzo, residents of Homeland Center enjoyed a real treat on the first day of November – an intimate performance from renowned Harrisburg Symphony Orchestra musicians led by Maestro Stuart Malina.

The mini-concert was a sort of command performance, requested by residents as part of Homeland’s 150th anniversary celebration. In May, legendary newsman Charles Osgood, visiting as keynote speaker for the anniversary gala, sat at Homeland’s Steinway grand piano and regaled residents with quirky ditties. Seated at that same piano, Malina coaxed the intricate compositions of Ludwig van Beethoven and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart from the keys.

The program opened with Beethoven’s Piano Trio #1 in E Flat Major, played by Malina, HSO Concertmaster Peter Sirotin on violin, and cellist Daniel Pereira.

“You’re going to hear beautiful melodies, which Beethoven did very well, and wonderful shifts of energy,” Malina explained. “Beethoven was a very stormy guy and had sudden shifts of emotion, and you hear this reflected in the music, but generally, it’s a very playful piece.”

The program dispensed with many traditional concert formalities. Audience members cheered each movement and Malina would stand to explain the upcoming movement. Even a call for maintenance over the loudspeaker in the middle of the music brought a smile to the charismatic conductor’s face.

HSO Principal Violist Julius Wirth joined the group for Mozart’s Piano Quartet #1 in G minor, full of “incredibly soulful and incredibly human music,” Malina said.

“Some people have said in the course of history, among known geniuses, Mozart is one of the one or two greatest of all,’’ Malina said. “From a very young age, he was playing multiple instruments. He spoke seven languages by age 5. He wrote his first symphony when he was less than 5 years old.”

“Right!” echoed resident Isabelle Smith, the former executive director of Homeland in the 1970s.

When the musicians gently closed the quartet’s slow adagio movement, Malina told the audience, “I heard an ‘ah,’ and I have to say, that really is the only appropriate response.”

At program’s end, Homeland residents and visitors marveled at the performance.

“What a treat! What a treat,” said Carolyn Kunkel, an Honorary Life Member of Homeland’s Board of Managers, which helped organize the group’s appearance. “It was just gorgeous.”

Irene Baird had arrived at Homeland five days previously for rehab from surgery.

“It was superb,” she said. “Way back when, I was involved with the Friends of the Symphony. I’ve always been very much a fan. I’m very impressed with the fact that it has been brought to Homeland.”

Resident MJ Muro proclaimed the concert “magnificent.”

“It was spellbinding,” she said. “I can’t believe that they’re just humans doing that. Oh, my gosh, that was fabulous.”

While the audience raved about the musicians, Malina raved about the “amazing audience – attentive, quiet, respectful. It was a complete success. I’m thrilled. Many of these people don’t have many chances to hear live music, and that’s a great gift. It’s nice to be able to provide that.”

The fact that residents requested the concert “warms my heart,” Malina said. “They come in vans every time we have a concert, so we have a nice connection to Homeland.”

Smith declared the concert “awesome” and said it was probably a first for Homeland. Residents, she said, “love anything that’s going to bring happiness to their home. It’s a happy home.”