This fall, Douglas A. Struyk, CPA, LNHA, will celebrate 25 years of service with Christian Health Care Center (CHCC). He joined CHCC in 1990 as the Executive Vice President of Finance. Four years later, he was named President and CEO. During the last quarter century, CHCC has grown exponentially, with the addition of numerous residences and programs including Evergreen Court and Hillcrest Residence for independent seniors, Southgate behavior-management unit, The Longview Assisted Living Residence, Christian Health Care Adult Day Services of Wayne, the David F. Bolger Post-acute Care Unit, and an addition to Ramapo Ridge Psychiatric Hospital. The next major expansion of the Center will be The Vista, a continuing care retirement community featuring beautiful, spacious apartments and a wide array of amenities.
The Center was founded in 1911 by a group of deacons in the Reformed tradition. They sought to build a hospital which would provide physical, mental, and spiritual care following Christian principles for all individuals with mental illnesses, regardless of his/her ability to pay. Today, CHCC – a non-profit organization open to anyone regardless of race, sex, or religion – focuses on health, healing, and wellness through a continuum of high-quality senior-life, short-term rehab, and mental-health services delivered in a compassionate and loving environment consistent with the Christian principles on which the institution was founded.
“We’re unique in our combination of services and the length of time that we have provided them. We respond to community needs. We determine which we can meet the best, while adhering to our mission,” Mr. Struyk says. “We are incredibly blessed that we have experienced such wonderful outcomes for so many years. Our core principles show that love and compassion are what the Center is all about.”
The first major expansion under Mr. Struyk’s leadership was the 1995 opening of Evergreen Court, an apartment complex for independent seniors. More than half of the apartments are designated as affordable housing with rent based on income; the remainder are based on fair market value.
- Southgate behavior-management unit opened in 1997. This skilled-nursing unit provides specialized care for adults who have behavioral disturbances associated with dementia and other illnesses.
- The Longview Assisted Living Residence and Hillcrest Residence both opened in 1999. Longview offers personalized care in a secure environment that supports and fosters each individual’s maximum level of independence, while also providing needed assistance with activities of daily living. Longview also includes the Courtyard, a specialized residence designed to meet the needs of those with early stages of dementia and memory loss. Hillcrest is a “pre-assisted-living” option for seniors who are in good health and want to maintain their independence, but also find comfort in knowing that assistance is close by, if needed.
- Christian Health Care Adult Day Services expanded to Wayne in 2003. This active, medical day program helps seniors maintain independence and improve their quality of life. Clients benefit from medical care, such as health monitoring and medication administration, personal-care services, nutrition services, pastoral care, social services, and planned activities.
- A 24-bed short-term rehab unit was established in 2005. The unit underwent major expansions in 2009 and 2010. Today, it is the 76-bed David F. Bolger Post-acute Care Unit. Here, a multidisciplinary team offers concentrated physical, occupational, and speech therapy; skilled nursing services; and education to help patients transition back to the place they call home following hospitalization for complex medical conditions, surgery, or other illness, such as cardiac disease, gastrointestinal illnesses, and renal disease. This fall, a 14,000-square-foot rehabilitation suite will open.
- A major addition to Ramapo Ridge Psychiatric Hospital was dedicated in 2006. The first floor of this two-story addition provides space for the Ramapo Ridge Partial-hospitalization Program on the first floor and 12 additional inpatient beds, a Nurses’ Station, and individual and group therapy rooms on the second floor.
- Two distinct residences were designated for Heritage Manor Nursing Home in 2014. Heritage Manor East provides innovative, specialized care and programming for memory support. Heritage Manor West fosters collaboration and freedom of choice for more independent seniors.
- Final local and state approvals for The Vista, a continuing care retirement community for adults 62 and older on the CHCC campus, were received in 2015. The community will feature up to 199 spacious, one-level, maintenance-free apartments and rich array of amenities and social, cultural, and wellness opportunities.
Other notable milestones of the past 25 years include the establishment of a robust service-excellence program dedicated to resident/patient and employee satisfaction, quality, financial viability, and community awareness; the installation of Sandra DeYoung, RN, EdD, as the first female Board of Trustees Chair; and significant advancements in the application of technology into the delivery of care.
“During the past 25 years, the Center has grown in capacity, in programs, in services to the community, and in professionalism. All of those start at the top with Doug,” says Garry Dykhouse, former Chair of Christian Health Care Center and Christian Health Care Center Foundation Boards of Trustees who led the President and CEO Search Committee in 1994. “There’s no question in my mind that the Center is a better place than it was 25 years ago. Individual strengths have been maximized. Education has been stressed. Involvement beyond specific job responsibilities has grown. All of these were accomplished under Doug’s leadership.”
The growth of the Center, Mr. Struyk says, is driven by community need.
“The community expects what’s become our heritage and our reputation – to be an organization which provides very high-quality care and is very mission- and vision-focused and oriented. God has blessed us with the ability to maintain a consistently high reputation for what we do well,” he says. “There’s an expectation that “Christian” in our name makes a difference in who we are, what we do, and how we do it. But we are not an inclusive or restrictive organization. We never have been. We are a multicultural staff serving a multicultural community. We are here to be the hands of Christ to anyone who comes to our door. His hands were perfect. We know that ours are not, but we strive to reach that level of perfection each and every day.”
Mr. Struyk attributes the success of the Center’s growth to the staff, trustees, and volunteers.
“I’m extremely thankful for all the individuals who have been involved with the Center’s growth over the past quarter century. Their experience, knowledge, and commitment to expanding their abilities have greatly contributed to our success. It is a privilege and a priceless opportunity to work with them,” he says.
Mr. Struyk is also thankful for the opportunity to advocate for the rights of the elderly and mentally ill individuals on local, state, and national levels. Over the past 25 years he has been a frequent visitor to Trenton and Washington, DC, where he meets with legislators and testifies to help ensure that the Center’s residents, patients, clients, consumers, and staff have the state and federal resources necessary for the delivery and accessibility of high-quality health care. He has served on the federal Medicaid Advisory Commission and on New Jersey’s Health-care Advisory Committee. Mr. Struyk is also Past Chair of the New Jersey Association of Homes and Services for the Aging, and of the Health Care Association of New Jersey’s Legislative Services Committee. He has served on the Policy Development, Economic Stimulus, and Government Relations committees of the New Jersey Hospital Association.
“Decisions in Trenton and Washington have a tremendous impact on what we do,” Mr. Struyk says. “It’s important that those decisions are made by people who have a full understanding of the issues. By testifying before state committees, meeting with state and federal legislators, and inviting government leaders to the CHCC campus, I can advocate for those that we care for and for those that provide care.”
While he has a long career ahead of him at Christian Health Care Center, Mr. Struyk has pondered the legacy that he would like to pass forward.
“When I became President and CEO, the Center was a highly respected organization delivering a high level of care, so I would like to pass on the same legacy that I was handed,” he says. “Christian Health Care Center is an exceptional organization with a devoted team that is nationally recognized at being the best at what they do. That is true to the mission that we live and to the name that we bear.”