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Nursing Home Aims for Happy Residents

Though Allen Brown has served as executive director at Nathaniel Witherell only since last fall, he's made great efforts to ensure his residents have fulfilling experiences.

"You get to know them and soon you have many families, the family of residents, family of staff," Brown said. "We are principally their medical provider, but we also participate in their social needs and daily living."

Brown was chosen by the town in 2009 to lead Project Renew, a $37 million renovation project, because of his longtime experience with health-care facilities.

Brown, who grew up outside Philadelphia, graduated from Temple University with an advanced business degree in health and hospitals. He went on to administration work hospitals in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and New York City before moving to Stamford in 1988. He served as the vice president for operations at Danbury Hospital and executive vice president/chief of personnel at St. Luke's Hospital. But it wasn't until he was named CEO of the APT Inc. Foundation in New Haven that he became interested in long-term health care.

"What I like about nursing facilities versus hospital environments is it's a more personal and connected job," Brown said. "It's much more about the people here rather than technological advances."

Brown wants his residents to have fun and assists in planning frequent special events.

"Becoming part of somebody's life network is what makes it rewarding; we're their support system," Brown said. "A few weeks ago we had a woman whose granddaughter was getting married out-of-state, and we arranged for her to go, and she had a great time."

Occasionally there are people who are nearly impossible to satisfy even with all Nathaniel Witherell provides. "They're challenging, but we're in the service business, and we do what we can to make our residents lives as rich as possible," Brown said.

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