Michael McRae believes the reason for St. Ann’s longevity has a lot to do with its founders.
St. Ann’s — which was established in 1873 as The Home of Industry on Edinburgh Street in Rochester — was founded by the Sisters of St. Joseph to provide shelter and to teach a trade to young immigrant women who had no families, so they could support themselves.
The name was changed to St. Ann’s Home for the Aged in 1904, when it became a residential care facility for the elderly on Lake Avenue.
While St. Ann’s — now a senior housing and health services provider — has transformed over its 150-year history, it continues to serve the community, expanding its services and adjusting to the changing times.
“The stronger the foundation, the better the building stands,” said McRae, president and CEO of St. Ann’s Community.
St. Ann’s offers a continuum of care that includes independent living, assisted living, memory care, skilled nursing, transitional care/rehab, hospice/palliative care and adult day programs.
It operates campuses in Irondequoit, Webster and LeRoy, Genesee County.
The operation, with some 1,100 employees, is a market leader in senior services in the Greater Rochester area and among the region’s top employers.
McRae — who was named to the most recent RBJ Power 30 Health Care list — became president and CEO in 2014, following a role as vice president and chief operating officer. He is the third person named to the leadership role there in the past 50 years.
Under McRae’s leadership, St. Ann’s has increased the number of seniors served through independent housing, guided the organization’s strategic repositioning of services on two campuses and partnered with Rochester Regional Health to open the only Advanced Wound Healing Center in a skilled nursing facility in the state.
Additionally, St. Ann’s Home launched a nearly $40 million renovation project in 2019, which was completed in 2022.
It was the first major renovation to St. Ann’s Home since 2001 and included creating additional places to gather, larger resident living areas and private rooms, enhanced heating and cooling systems and updated finishes.
What sets the senior care organization apart is the commitment of its volunteer board and its employees, McRae said.
“They are the St. Ann’s brand,” he said.
In turn, the organization has taken steps to support its employees.
St. Ann’s has substantially increased pay, raising salaries across the organization by some $4 million over the past 3 1/2 years, McRae noted.
St. Ann’s also provides tuition assistance, scholarships and flexible hours, as well as stipends for needs ranging from transportation and food delivery to diapers.
In addition, the community operates St. Ann’s Academy, an eight-month training program for those looking to advance their careers.
As the age of the population continues to grow, so does the need for health care, McRae said, noting that there will be a large influx of Baby Boomers needing care over the next few years.
Following that trajectory, the number of elderly is on pace to exceed the number of direct care workers who would be available to care for them.
To stay ahead of this, health care employers need to build up their skilled workforce by attracting new segments of the working population with a model that values both retention and growth to create lifelong careers, McRae explained.
St. Ann’s is looking at short-, mid- and long-term goals to address this, from adjusting salaries to continuing to improve on recruitment and retention efforts and exploring how the organization can help get more young people interested in careers in senior care.
In addition to workforce challenges, the senior health care industry is grappling with lower than requested state reimbursement rates for Medicaid, which don’t adequately cover the cost of care.
McRae, however, remains optimistic, noting St. Ann’s strong financial position and longstanding commitment to continue to find ways to best serve the community.
For example, collaborations with other health service organizations – from health systems to home health care providers – is something St. Ann’s will continue to assess.
“There are a lot of ways we will continue to expand and increase our reach,” he said.
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