Concordia expands

Concordia expands

Concordia of the South Hills — formerly, the B’nai B’rith-sponsored Covenant at South Hills — broke ground last week on a 3,000 square feet expansion to its Health Center.

Concordia Lutheran Ministries, the parent company of Concordia of the South Hills, purchased the Mt. Lebanon senior living facility for $15 million in 2009, after the Covenant filed for bankruptcy.

“Our mission is to serve people, and God has blessed us with the opportunity to expand,” said Keith Frndak, president and CEO of Concordia Lutheran Ministries. “We continue to work to serve more and to serve better.”

The expansion will add a therapy gym to enhance the care provided to the skilled nursing patients, according to Concordia of the South Hill’s CEO, Brian Hortert.

“We will have all new equipment, including flat screens TVs on the walls in the gyms,” Hortert said. “We will also be updating the nurses’ stations, and providing touch screens for the nurses to access the electronic records.”

The two-level therapy gym will allow for improved communication between therapists and nurses, and will provide more convenient access for short-term rehab patients, he said.

New bedroom furniture and other general upgrades for the 46 skilled nursing units are also in the works.

The goal is to have the addition completed by the end of April 2012.

In addition to the skilled nursing component, the facility consists of 126 one- and two-bedroom independent living apartments, 48 personal care and 12 memory-support units. The facility serves about 30 short-term rehab patients per day in its health center.

“The expansion is a great testament to the staff, and the way we’ve been seen in the community,” Hortert said.

In just two years, Concordia Lutheran Ministries has transformed the previously bankrupt facility into a thriving, senior community, with only one vacancy among its independent living units; it was operating at less than 40 percent occupancy in 2009 when it was sponsored by B’nai B’rith.

Hortert believes a change in the facility’s rate structure contributed to its turnaround.

“We did it with a lot of prayer, and a lot of hard work by our staff,” Hortert said. “We had a lot of open houses, and our rate structure is a little bit different, so we can market to another segment of the population. And we’ve had a lot of support from area churches, and local synagogues and temples.”

Although the facility is no longer sponsored by a Jewish organization, and its Lutheran ownership is marked by a large cross on its sign facing Bower Hill Road, several new Jewish residents have nonetheless moved in since it was acquired by Concordia, according to Hortert.

“We have been able to demonstrate to the community that we’re able to work together very well,” he said. “That has been a blessing,”

While the facility no longer has a kosher kitchen, it “still continues to have meals on the menu that respect the dietary laws,” he said, noting that Concordia ensures there is always something available to residents who do not wish to eat nonkosher meat.

Jewish holidays are still observed at the facility, and Shabbat services are held every Friday night.

“It’s been a great two years,” Hortert said. “Concordia Lutheran Ministries is a 130 year-old company. We’re looking forward to being here for a long time. It’s been a blessing that the whole community has embraced us.”

(Toby Tabachnick can be reached at

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