Health Care

Senior living communities join forces

United Methodist and Porter Hills will keep branding separate.

March 8, 2019
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Two Michigan senior living organizations have joined forces.

Chelsea-based United Methodist Retirement Communities is now the sole shareholder of Grand Rapids-based Porter Hills Presbyterian Village after the organizations signed an affiliation agreement, effective March 1, according to the organizations. Porter Hills previously was linked with Grand Rapids-based Westminster Presbyterian Church.

The organizations are maintaining separate boards, with representatives of both organizations serving on each board. Staff leadership has combined into a single joint team. Overall, UMRC and Porter Hills will continue to operate with existing branding.

Stephen Fetyko, formerly UMRC chief financial officer, is the merged organization’s interim CEO. John Thorhauer, formerly UMRC president and CEO, now is the merged organization’s president and chief strategy officer. Both will serve UMRC and Porter Hills until a president and CEO is chosen by both boards.

Thorhauer said he planned to retire in October 2019 after the deal was completed.

He said the plan is to select a top leader in August, for which Fetyko is a candidate. Leadership is finalizing the titles and responsibilities for the top position and for the role now called chief strategy officer, he said.

Because executive roles were not filled as people left Porter Hills since its partnership exploration, the remaining executives had a place in the combined team, according to Thorhauer.

Karen Lehman was the interim president and CEO for Porter Hills until May 2018, when she took the CEO role for Indiana-based Mennonite Health Services.

Kim Hoppe is the merged organization’s CFO. Lori Potter is the COO.

There are no planned staffing changes at the direct care or individual location level. The organization staffs 1,300 people.

The organizations’ foundations will remain branded as separate entities, with Wendy Brightman serving as the president.

The revenue of the combined organizations and its affiliates totals $150 million annually, Thorhauer said.

The organizations serve 6,700 clients annually across 22 counties in the Lower Peninsula, stretching from Grand Rapids to Detroit.

Together, the organizations can share best practices, knowledge and financial resources, according to John Nixon III, chair of the UMRC governing board.

“This is important, as the latest demographics show Michigan as the fastest-aging state in the nation,” Nixon said.

The decision follows a six-month due diligence process that began in August 2018.

“We worked thoughtfully to ensure not just the right financial and operational fit but the right culture and ethos for a truly strong partnership,” said Mary Wagner, chair of the Porter Hills governing board.

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