A Conversation With Brian Grundusky, executive director, Bethany Village

How can senior living and care facilities best create emergency plans for events like pandemics or natural disasters? 

Part of our requirements, not only from a regulatory standpoint but also from an ethical and a preparedness standpoint, (is) to create an emergency preparedness plan that involves a lot of different scenarios. Power outages, tornadoes, flooding, they’re just some of the natural disasters we have to include. We also work in partnership with our local law enforcement agencies, fire companies. Bethany Village obviously would be a high priority area because of those we serve, so if there was an issue where we would have to evacuate, we would be first on the list. We go through tabletop exercises based upon our emergency preparedness plan, so it gives us practice. We had to add an active shooter plan as it relates to what we’re currently going through in the world. (The pandemic) is something that hit everyone out of the blue and you can’t really be 100 percent prepared for a pandemic, but you need to learn from it and we’ve learned so much, not only at Bethany Village and Asbury communities, but also throughout the world. Several key things we really look at are our supply chain; we’re serving about 650 senior living residents and highly acute, physically disabled residents, and we need to make sure we have what we need. You also have to create plans for such things as new vaccines, which we were able to do on the fly. We had great support from our clinical and corporate administrative team to make sure all our communities at Asbury were prepared. Unfortunately, you’re not going to go through these things unscathed, but the number of residents we lost to COVID was very low.  

Your emergency preparedness plan is always going to be an active document. You have to adjust and be flexible, and you’re always going to want to look at it multiple times throughout the year, in case you experience any type of emergency. 

As executive director, how do you balance decisions between best business practices and human, personal care? 

Bethany Village and Asbury communities are not-for-profit organizations, so we have to be operational and practice good business practices because that leads to resources we can reinvest back in our community, but one of our No. 1 priorities is care, and quality. You have to keep the bottom line up on the radar but it’s not our No. 1 priority. Our mission here is to do all the good we can by providing exceptional lifestyle opportunities to those that we serve. We’ve proven that through the pandemic. We did get a lot of resources from the state and federal government to help offset that, but there was never any question in our minds that our residents and their care comes first, and we did what we needed to do to make sure that we were able to provide that, even if it affected our bottom line, which in a number of cases, it did. Working in alignment with our board of directors, they knew what we needed to get done, there were no roadblocks.    

What needs do you see in your industry, as the number of adults over 65 continues to grow and thus more people need these services? 

There’s just not going to be enough communities to house the baby boomers that are now hitting our market, because it’s such a huge number that is now retiring and looking for these services. You have to think outside of the box a little bit, especially when it comes to the total industry, and I’m starting to see that as it relates to technology-driven policies and processes that can help people age in place in their homes.  

What was of interest for residents who retired 10-15 years ago is not of interest for the baby boomers coming in; (they) want to be flexible, they want to be efficient with their resources, so we have to start thinking about that. Another thing is, a lot of caregivers for our current residents are baby boomers, they’re getting older, they’re not able to provide to care for their loved ones, so establishing home healthcare options absolutely needs to be looked at. Navigating through the care system is it going to be critical, because things are changing day by day, and it’s very complex and very time-sensitive. We have to invest in technology (and) in those things that can be put in place in people’s homes so we can provide telehealth, monitoring systems and so forth. 

If you were a resident at Bethany Village, what would your favorite activity be? 

I actually would say our wellness program. I think it’s going to be critical not only for me but for everyone moving forward into their golden years. They say people who are 70 act like they’re 50, and we see that extensively here at Bethany Village. I’ve got 70- and 80-year-old residents battling it out on the pickleball court. I watch them playing and I don’t think I want to be embarrassed by them! We go snow tubing, we do kayaking trips, tubing trips, paddleboard, we have a deluxe state-of-the-art pool and a fitness center. We’re now getting into brain health, and we’re going to be developing a specific program to look at cognitive wellness. It gives the residents options for staying active for many, many years.  

About Brian Grundusky 

Brian Grundusky, 48, has spent his entire career with Bethany Village, which is located in Mechanicsburg and part of the Asbury Communities.  

Grundusky earned a bachelor’s degree in business management from Shippensburg University and a  master’s in health care administration from Penn State University. He is also a certified nursing home administrator. 

He lives in Lower Swatara Township with his wife and two stepchildren.