Gulfport: Amazing Story

Sep 3rd 2014

Rarely in our lifetimes do we get the chance to bring something back to life.

We may ‘add to’ life as we contribute to our divine purpose. Maybe a few times we ‘co-create life,’ as parents. But to bring it back or restore it like Elijah, the great prophet, did in the Old Testament when he resurrected the young boy of the widow, is a miracle to truly celebrate.

Several years back, our lender called to inform us that a good long-term care organization had closed down due to regulatory problems. This is every operator’s nightmare and something we have never experienced, knock on wood. The REIT that holds the mortgage was concerned whether it could ever be licensed again because to reopening a center requires so much red tape, life safety upgrades, new ADA standards, intense capital, etc.
I rode around most of the morning trying to understand this three dimensional historical city. There are the heritage-based Gulfport citizens who built this community in its heyday, the new tourists and seasonal visitors who are being lured in by the beach and surrounding investments, and the vibrant young professionals finding the area a cost-effective place to have a true Florida coastal experience.
The St. Petersburg market has many generic long-term care centers and very few top performers – but this service area really needs it. After the morning tour scouting out St. Pete at a level I have never done previously, I remember finally pulling up and parking my rental car on the side of the dated, locked-up facility that was falling apart, and just plain dead thinking, “Oh, God, can we really do this?”
Personally, I was reluctant and a touch scared, but my discernment made me see hope and visions of a busy quality-of-life center with diversity and intergenerational learning throughout the campus. Then I looked across the street and saw a thriving hospital, knowing the Revolution was needed right there.
With temporary access, I made it inside the dreary, dark and empty center that was eerily silent except for the sound of my footsteps echoing wings away. But my heart knew this campus could be transformed with a new vision and new leadership, and this could be a star for the entire community to be proud of again. Don’t get me wrong, I have the luxury of having the best long-care leaders and warriors anywhere in the country, so my piece may be the easiest of all.
When the Signature Revolution has been called upon, I have watched my partners save centers and turn them ‘from worst into first’, rebuild dilapidated facilities, expand services, take risks no one else would and make diamonds out of the rough every time!
We first worked through some complicated negotiations with our lender, who gave us great flexibility and funded our full vision. We started with a mustard seed, a fired-up leadership team and a lender’s trust to fight through permits, city ordinances, state visits and phase one life safety renovations. We moved over some revolutionary leaders who we already trusted, and over thousands of hours, with amazing teamwork and unwavering faith, the center opened again.
Except this time it was twice as strong and twice as beautiful, with bigger plans under way and only halfway complete, but the team is killing it. Rooms are refilling with happy customers and families, community support for real quality-of-life is rocking, and when the master plan is complete, it will be the best of the best!
Thanks to our lenders, our leaders, and Sean O’Malley and his amazing team, including SHC veterans like DON Stephanie Lee and Rehab Director Denise Holland. And thanks to the entire community for the support and the deep belief in the Revolution!

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