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140 Years of Caring: Concordia’s History of Service

April 27, 2021

Did you know that Concordia was first opened as the Evangelical Lutheran Concordia Orphans and Old Peoples Home in the early 1880s by a group of Lutheran pastors? Concordia was a farm as well as an orphanage and home for seniors, and in its early days, occupied only a small part of the current Concordia at Cabot campus. In the last several decades, Concordia has grown in leaps and bounds, now boasting a number of senior living facilities, retirement communities and home health care services in Western Pennsylvania, Eastern Ohio and Tampa, Florida.

Below is a timeline of how Concordia’s services have evolved since the early 1880s. (Read more for photo slideshow)

Related: Celebrating Concordia’s 140th Anniversary: Glimpses of the 1800s  

History1Orphanage: 1881 - 1958 Over the years, the demand for dedicated orphanages decreased, as well as the number of children coming to Concordia. In the 1950s, Concordia knew that the orphanage would soon be closing and hired a social worker to place the remaining children in private homes. By 1958, the last of the children were placed and Concordia no longer accepted new applications.

Operating Farm: 1881 - 1954 The farm operations at Concordia provided for the children and seniors who lived there for over 70 years with plenty of produce and room for livestock. Concordia staff and the older children tended to all the farm chores and made use of every harvest. As the children left and more stringent government regulations were passed, running the farm and using its produce for the remaining seniors who lived at Concordia became increasingly difficult. By 1954, Concordia decided to cease the farm operations, sell the livestock and farm equipment and lease the land to local farmers.

Chaplaincy Services: 1881 - Present Pastors have always been an integral part of Concordia Lutheran Ministries – it was, after all, a group of Lutheran pastors from Pittsburgh who first decided to start a mission for orphans and seniors in Cabot. From the dedication of Oertel Care Center’s All Saints Chapel in 1916 to this day, every major residential Concordia building expansion has featured a chapel where residents can gather to express and celebrate their faith. Pastors and church members consistently volunteered at Concordia, with many pastors ministering to the children and seniors who lived here on a regular schedule. In the 1970s, Concordia’s Board of Directors hired Concordia’s first dedicated chaplain, Rev. H. Earl Miller. Today, the Chaplaincy Department includes nine full-time and 12 part-time employees who provide spiritual care for Concordia’s residents and patients in our facilities and in their own homes through our home and community services.

General Care for Seniors: 1908 - Present While we served the occasional older person prior to 1908, we really started serving seniors with the construction of the Home for the Aged on the Concordia at Cabot campus that year. Concordia cared for seniors who needed various levels of medical assistance throughout the decades. This kind of care would eventually become more regulated by the government and known as assisted living or personal care.

Skilled Nursing: 1982 - Present The construction of the Charles C. Markus Hall (typically referred to as just Markus Hall) on the Concordia at Cabot campus was the beginning of our skilled nursing care services. Concordia had provided care to those with severe or long-term conditions long before this hall was built, but it was the first building at Concordia that was dedicated to what we know as skilled nursing care.

Retirement Living: 1990 - Present The construction of the Concordia at Cabot Haven I Apartment building, was the beginning of Concordia’s retirement living offerings in Western PA. Since the development of the Haven Apartments, Concordia’s retirement communities have grown exponentially, and retirement living apartments are available at several Concordia campuses in Western PA, Eastern OH and Tampa, FL.

Home Health and Home Care: 1997 - Present In the 1990s, providing care in the home became a fast growing sector of the healthcare industry, due in part to an explosion of Medicare expenditures. In 1997, ConcordiaCare was launched as our first home care service line and offered private duty services to those in need. A year later, the agency received its home health licensure and Medicare certification that allowed for medically skilled visits to be made with a physician’s order to qualifying patients. In 2003, ConcordiaCare changed its name to Concordia Visiting Nurses and the service line began experiencing exponential growth. In 2015, Concordia Private Care  was established as the sole private duty service line while Concordia Visiting Nurses delivers high-quality skilled nursing, therapy and ancillary support services to patients. Today, the two agencies, along with Concordia-IRMC VNA, which was established in 2021 and is a partnership of Concordia Community Support Services and Indiana Regional Medical Center, deliver home health and home care services in 13 western Pennsylvania counties.

Hospice Care: 2004 - Present Recognizing the need to provide compassionate end-of-life care, Concordia acquired Good Samaritan Hospice in 2005. Good Samaritan Hospice offers in-home hospice care and three inpatient units throughout western Pennsylvania: one on the Concordia at Cabot campus, one at the Good Samaritan House in Wexford, and one within Heritage Valley Beaver Hospital. In 2015, Concordia Community Support Services was established as a management company for Concordia’s home and community-based service lines. A year later, the management company partnered with Washington Health System to create Concordia Hospice of Washington. Located in Washington, PA, Concordia Hospice of Washington offers in-home hospice care to those living throughout southwestern Pennsylvania and provides inpatient hospice care through the Donnell House in Washington. With the creation of Concordia-IRMC VNA in 2021, Concordia’s in-home hospice care expanded to serve patients in Indiana County and the surrounding communities.

Medical Equipment: 2008 - Present Concordia expanded its continuum of care in 2008 with the acquisition of APEX CPAP & Respiratory Services, Inc. in Saxonburg, PA. Now named Concordia Medical Equipment, this service branch allows Concordia to offer a wide variety of medical equipment, including wheelchairs, hospital beds, crutches, CPAP machines and more.

These are only a few of the many senior and healthcare services offered at our campuses. For more information about our continuum of healthcare services in Western PA, Eastern OH and Tampa, FL. visit the locations page of our website to find a Concordia community near you.

If you’re interested in learning more about Concordia’s 140 years of history, each issue of Concordia’s Faith in Caring magazine will include additional photos and historical insight into our past. And each issue will be introduced here with housefather journal entries from every season of the year. Click here to read the March 2021 issue of Faith in Caring.

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