Harrisburg nursing home looks back on 150 years while keeping an eye on the next 150

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – A Harrisburg institution is celebrating a major milestone this weekend, but as the Homeland Center celebrates a birthday, its leaders are keeping an eye on what’s to come.

Homeland in midtown is the oldest nursing home in the area. Now they’re preparing themselves to tackle the changing face of senior care for decades to come.

“This is an album that they did for my 90th birthday,” Doris Coyne said, flipping open a blue bound binder full of pages friends and family made for her.

When you approach a century of life, you pick up a lot of memories. Such is the case with Coyne, pronounced “like nickels and dimes only spelled different. That’s been my standard reply,” she said with a laugh.

Her 90th was seven years ago; the birthday balloon in her room is from a fresher memory.

“And it’s very difficult when you get to be 97,” she said, “because the friends that shared the memories have all passed away.”

Coyne has lived at Homeland for four years. She’s part of a long, long midtown tradition. Homeland started in 1867 with a charter as the Home for the Friendless, a place for Civil War widows and orphans.

“No one was stepping forward,” Barry Ramper II, the facility’s CEO and president said. A century and a half later, Homeland is different, but Ramper said the mission is not.

The center started home care last year, hospice care in the last decade, and more changes will come.

“We have more individuals on a daily basis now than ever before in our history reaching retirement age,” Ramper said.

As baby boomers age, the challenge becomes how to care for everyone in decades to come during the impending senior boom. Not only that, Ramper said, but developments in technology and health science likely mean longer lifespans.

Combine that with decreasing reimbursements from Medicare and Medicaid, and the senior care industry will have no choice but to continue to evolve.

Coyne sees her time at Homeland as a natural part of a wonderful life.

“Not that there weren’t a lot of troubles in the meantime. Husband with a bad heart, I had rheumatic fever for two years. In spite of the odds, I’m still here,” she said with a laugh.

And she’s happy here. That’s what Homeland wants to provide people for the next 150 years.

“People,” Coyne said, “that’s what life is really all about.”

Homeland will celebrate its 150 year anniversary on Sunday.

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